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EMS Interview Questions

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Interview season has begun in Ontario for many services so I thought it might be good to have some sample interview questions posted (not just for Ontarians, but anyone applying to EMS). There were two other threads relating to interviewing that I found, but neither focused on questions you should be ready for (see the other threads for what not to do and how to talk about your weakness). I will start if off with a few but please add more.

Why do you want to be a paramedic?

Why do you want to work for our service?

What do you have to offer our service?

What is your best quality?

What is your worst quality?

Your partner comes to work drunk, what do you do?

What are some of the challenges facing the health system in _______?

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If I were to interview medics and emt's (im an emt) I would not ask generic questions as most people answer safe or answer what you want to hear. I would strictly ask scenario based questions and see if they fit in with my specific department's protocols or philosophy.

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As a comedian once said :

I like to bring a book a read during the interview. When he asks me what the hell are you doing, I say this.

If you are in a vehicle traveling at the speed of light, and you turn the headlights on, would anything happen?

When his reply was "I don't know..", I said "Then I don't think I can work for you."

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we use a mix of scenario and the generic questions.

throwing in "what are the indications of using glucose?" gets people thinking and i generally get more honest answers when they use their skills.

however, if you have to prompt them on the basic skills, you have to consider if this person will be a liability, how well can they perform there other skills, and will they be able to follow state and organizational protocols. also, skill assessment can give you an idea of how much training this person will need to perform at the level of quality you company expects out of your employees. ( 1 week, 2 weeks, or even a month)

also, during the hiring process you need to ask opinion questions were there is no right or wrong answer. this should give you an idea of a persons social skills, bed side manners, and fellow employee compatibility. no matter how good an EMT-B or EMT-P at there assessment skills they still need to get along with facility representatives, their patients, and especially their co-workers( no one wants to work with someone with a god complex. it is detrimental to company moral.)

my last tip is to ask them about there future. most will get there certifications or license and stop with furthering there education. but the others that continue to educate them selves to benefit there patient care or to benefit the company (leadership/management classes) or other college to benefit themselves.

do they plan on enrolling in a retirement program with or with out the company?

are they willing to handle more responsibility in a few months?

all these will help indicate to you weather or not they will stay or use the company as a stepping stone in there careerer

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This got me thinking. I use to come up with some great interview type of questions, now I'm more or less drawing a blank. Guess it's been so long since I've even though about it I forgot how to think.

Give me a little while, maybe I can help.

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Be aware of the behavioral based interview that is becoming more popular with EMS agencies. Don't be afraid of it. If you know what to expect it's actually easier than a standard interview. Use the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) technique and you'll be golden.

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Now are these for entry level, not yet EMT's or EMT's just trying to get on? Some of your questions kinda reflects either.

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Ask them for a situation where they had to "Think outside the box"

If they can't answer it tell them to go work industrial.

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I don't really have any paramedic specific questions. All the questions I use are designed to give me insight into the applicant's experience, character, intelligence, social skills, and critical thinking abilities.

I am particularly into the questions that jbullfrog09 mentioned in his last paragraph. I too want to know about their plans for the future. I won't hire anybody who is just waiting for a call from the FD. I won't hire anybody who is giving their services away elsewhere. I won't hire anybody who does not have a specific plan for furthering their medical education. I won't hire anybody who is not yet sure if EMS is what they want for a career.

One question I always ask is the scenario about rolling up on an MVA with unknown injuries while responding to an emergency scene, or while transporting. They don't have to get the question right, but they do have to both present an intelligent argument for their choice, and they have to "get it" when I explain to them the correct answer. I believe AMR is using that one in some places too.

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I don't know about everywhere but around here we don't get alot of new medics. So if you have been in the system more than a couple of years chances are the person interviewing you knows you already. The interview is more of a formality at that point.

I always like the question "Tell me about yourself?" I always wanna list my turn ons and turn offs.

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I've been seeing this one question coming up more often over the past years.

Describe a situation when you have gone above and beyond your call of duty.

How would you answer this question? Even if you have some pretty nifty war story's, they're still a sense part of our job description. What "amazing" feat might you describe? Not everyone has run out of a burning building with a baby... I'm curious as to what interviewers are looking for.

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Well, it doesn't have to be something heroic. Above and beyond the call of duty could be showing up to fill a sudden gap in a schedule or holding over to cover a gap (by staying late, I don't mean for like a call. I would mean something like staying on for 6 hours and then showing up the next days shift on time).

Heck, last summer one of the backboards from the waterpark I worked at ended up half way across the county (kid had an open fracture and ended up being transfered to the local ped hospital. The kid ended up being transported on the back board for positional/pain reasons [not c-spine precaution], but they never told us. I ended up coming across it one day while working on the ambulance, and ended up taking the backboard home. It cost the ambulance company and me nothing (ok, less than a dollar because I took some time to wipe it down) since I was already there and I ended up bringing it to the park on my next shift. Heroic? Not really. Above the call of duty and helpful? Sure.

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The one time I interviewed applicants for a job I asked "why are manhole covers round?" It was more to see how the applicant approached an abstract problem than to obtain a correct answer. The answers ranged from logical to asinine.

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I remember that answer from Mr. Wizard growing up.

[spoil:f5c4c105be]it prevents the cover from falling through. [/spoil:f5c4c105be]

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For those of you that have interviewed...

How much weight do you give to good, though obviously well prepared answers?

Before I applied with AMR in CA as a basic I looked up all of the standard questions that others had mentioned here in threads past. I found amazing answers, certainly better than the answers I would have come up with if asked on the spot.

I know, because I was asked most of the questions I expected, but chose not to prepare with someone else's answers. And judging from the responses I received from the panel, ended up looking like a complete idiot because of it.

Normally I make every attempt to learn from history...but that is the same tact I plan to use next time. To prepare with proven answers simply feels dishonest to me.

I can see it both ways. Perhaps they see this as a lack of planning/preparation on my part when applying.

Or perhaps they see it as an attempt to be honest during the interview process.

What do those of you that have hired medics think?

Dwayne

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Tell us about yourself

Where do you see yourself in 5 years

What are your short term/long term goals

What do you know about us

Why did you apply to our department

What would you do if you got in an argument with your partner

What would you do if your partner did X wrong and wouldn't report it

What are your strengths and weaknessess

Tell us about your best/worst call

Any questions for us...

This has pretty much been the norm in what I've seen in recent interviews

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What do those of you that have hired medics think?

Well remember, you are the only one who knows that your answers are rehearsed. I know that we personally feel like others can tell -- just like young girls feel like everybody knows when they are menstruating -- but they can't. Sure, some people give short answers because they're regurgitating canned answers. But most people give short answers simply because they're not articulate conversationalists. Some people give long, explanatory answers because they are trying to BS the interviewer. But some give long, explanatory answers because they are speaking honestly and off the cuff. And there just aren't that many interviewers out there with the body language skills to reliably tell the difference. I think the overwhelming number of nimrods hired in our industry is proof of that.

It seems to me that a lot of people give answers to some questions that are neither a lie nor the truth. They just pop off the first thing that comes in their head, or what they think sounds good. A classic example is the common, "I just really want to help people" reply to the question of why they want to be in EMS. Puhleeze. If you give me that answer, you had better follow it up with either a Mother Theresa-esque benediction, or a long list of other factors that better express your true motivations. But I don't think most people are consciously being dishonest with that answer. They just aren't being introspective enough to know what they real answer is, or they're just parroting what they heard other people say. It's just like this "BLS before ALS" nonsense. People have a real tendency to repeat the bumper sticker slogans they hear simply because they are catchy and validate them personally, without ever giving a minute of intelligent thought as to whether or not it is valid.

I suppose if you are rehearsing your answers so thoroughly that you come across as scripted -- reciting your replies mechanically, as if from a teleprompter -- then yes, you may be coming across as dishonest, even though you truly believe in your answers. So obviously, presentation is extremely important. If you are confident in your answers, then perhaps you need to focus more on the body language of your presentation than on the answers themselves.

I don't really give points for being prepared for an interview (verbally) so much as I deduct points for not being prepared, if that makes any sense to you. In other words, I expect people to be prepared, so that is a baseline norm. It is only if you are at a complete loss for words that I start considering whether or not you were prepared. I like to hear answers that seem to come spontaneously, yet have obviously been considered in advance. That means, the questions I ask are all questions that you should have asked yourself before ever entering EMS, but not necessarily have rehearsed for recitation to somebody else. Consequently, the answers may come out as a spontaneous stream of consciousness, as you attempt to explain it, but you should not be stuck going "uhhh...." for two minutes before you even start to answer.

As much as I like to hear specific answers to my questions, I don't really have specific "right" answers that I am looking for. There are a wide range of replies that I can get to most of my questions that are acceptable and impressive. And I continue to hear new and unique answers everyday that exhibit new ways of thinking that are perfectly acceptable. It's more important to avoid those obviously "wrong" answers than it is to try and search for the perfect "right" answer. And, of course, to present those answers in an intelligent and articulate manner that at least appears honest.

Tough question, Dwayne! And I'm not sure I have adequately answered it here. But I hope I have at least given some insight to my thought processes as an interviewer. And I think my thought processes are relatively reflective of those of many of the major employers. But, of course, there are a lot of different types of people running EMS agencies. You've got your MBA types who do everything from a theoretical book, and you've got your high school dropout idiots running a lot of mom & pop privates, and you've got everything in-between. What impresses the MBA is likely to come off as presumptuous and threatening to the private guy. And it's not always easy to size up your interviewer and determine which kind he is. Consequently, I think your best approach is to ask yourself all of those questions, know your true, honest answers, articulate those in a very straightforward manner without rehearsal, and hope for the best.

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Wow Dust, thanks a million for that.

I will consider the answers before I apply again, but not use the canned answers I've found in the past. I somehow got it stuck in my head that there were the 'correct EMS answers', and was unwilling to parrot those answers, nor was I sure that I wanted to work for a company that placed value on those that would do so. I see now that I misunderstood the process.

I've found everything about working in the Springs (CO) to be inspiring. The medics are terribly smart (I've worked with, or around, perhaps 25 of them during my clinicals), very proud to be smart, committed to patient care, but even more so, committed to medicine.

I'm not sure if I'm the calibur of medic that they want here, but would like to do all that I can to work in this system. I just want to earn the right to do so without pretending to be something that I'm not. Know what I mean? (I'm still not sure if I would want to be a knife, fork or spoon, in fact.)

I can see now, from your post, that there is certainly a difference between preparing via asking myself the right questions and developing my own right answers, and being dishonest by researching the 'right' answers and then burping up what I've found.

Thanks so much for taking the time to explain it so thoroughly. You're a gift.

Dwayne

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I put a lot of importance on the interview process in EMS employment. And I do so because really, the interview process is quite analogous to the practice of medicine. Just like we despise those cookbook medics who practise without intelligent critical thinking, the same thing can be said of those who go through the motions in an interview without giving me any insight into their ability to think on their feet, reach educated conclusions, and articulate them in an intelligent manner. If you think about it, the interview is much, much more than a simple question and answer session. It is a test of your abilities to reason and communicate on the fly without a safety net of protocols or a written script.

But, because so many people do research and rehearse their interview responses, I long ago began changing my approach as an interviewer. Sure, I ask the same old half a dozen questions that everybody else asks. But I ask them in a different way, so that the applicant doesn't have the opportunity to respond with a canned answer. He is going to have to formulate his response spontaneously, even though he should already know the crux of his answer. This is what separates those who truly know and understand the answers from those who have just memorised the answers. Kind of like throwing essay questions at students who are used to only getting multiple choice questions. That also helps to weed out those who are simply articulate, but not critical thinkers.

Because of that, you should take that list of common interview questions and think of alternate ways of asking the same basic question. For example, instead of, "where do you see yourself in five years", you might be asked, "what are your plans after leaving this company?"

Good answer = "I don't currently have any plans to leave this company. I am looking for a career, not just another job."

Okay answer = "I need to further my education, and at some point I am going to need to devote full-time attention to that."

Bad answer = "This is just a stepping stone for me until I get into medical (or nursing) school."

Worse answer = "I'm gonna be a fireman!"

Worst answer = "Uhhh... I dunno."

  • In both scenarios, we are able to assess the applicant's attention to his future. But in the second scenario, we are able to do so in a way that doesn't allow him to give canned answers. That is one of the best ways we can tell the rehearsed answers from the honest answers.
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1. Have you ever seen a grown man naked ?

2. Are you a Homosexual ? Answer No, but we're willing to learn. (stripes)

3. Jesus H. ..... Did your moma have any children that lived? Ans. no Sgt. just me. (FMJ)

Give me a chance i'll come up with a few more ala movie questions LOL

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I am particularly into the questions that jbullfrog09 mentioned in his last paragraph. I too want to know about their plans for the future. I won't hire anybody who is just waiting for a call from the FD. I won't hire anybody who is giving their services away elsewhere. I won't hire anybody who does not have a specific plan for furthering their medical education. I won't hire anybody who is not yet sure if EMS is what they want for a career.

You MIGHT be able to get away with that at a private company, but no way in hell would that fly at a government agency. Even at a private, depending on state law the labor board might have an issue or two with hiring practices like that.

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Hey Dust, quick question. You want to know about potential employees plans to continue their education, but you do not want that education to include medical or nursing school. Are not good medical directors an integral part of any EMS system? Wouldn't a taste of true EMS also be a good introduction prior to medical school?

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You MIGHT be able to get away with that at a private company, but no way in hell would that fly at a government agency. Even at a private, depending on state law the labor board might have an issue or two with hiring practices like that.

Can you explain that theory further? I don't see any privacy or civil rights violations in any of those criteria.

Hey Dust, quick question. You want to know about potential employees plans to continue their education, but you do not want that education to include medical or nursing school. Are not good medical directors an integral part of any EMS system? Wouldn't a taste of true EMS also be a good introduction prior to medical school?

It is not my agency's mission to prepare the next generation of medical directors or nurses. And doing so only contributes to my agency's turnover rate. It would take about twelve to fifteen years for any of those people to actually become a board certified physician, qualified to be my medical director. I'm all for long term planning, but that's a little extreme. I cannot think of any good coming from establishing my agency as a stepping stone to something else.

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QUOTE (CBEMT)You MIGHT be able to get away with that at a private company, but no way in hell would that fly at a government agency. Even at a private, depending on state law the labor board might have an issue or two with hiring practices like that.

Can you explain that theory further? I don't see any privacy or civil rights violations in any of those criteria.

QUOTE (JPINFV)Hey Dust, quick question. You want to know about potential employees plans to continue their education, but you do not want that education to include medical or nursing school. Are not good medical directors an integral part of any EMS system? Wouldn't a taste of true EMS also be a good introduction prior to medical school?

It is not my agency's mission to prepare the next generation of medical directors or nurses. And doing so only contributes to my agency's turnover rate. It would take about twelve to fifteen years for any of those people to actually become a board certified physician, qualified to be my medical director. I'm all for long term planning, but that's a little extreme. I cannot think of any good coming from establishing my agency as a stepping stone to something else.

Hi,

I agreed with you. Any way, your ideal make me thinking about some thing for my project.

Pls try to keep posting.Tks and best regards

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Hi,

I agreed with you. Any way, your ideal make me thinking about some thing for my project.

Pls try to keep posting.Tks and best regards

Apart from that, this link below may be useful: Funny interview questions

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