20 FEMA Interview Questions and Answers

Prepare for the types of questions you are likely to be asked when interviewing for a position at FEMA.

When it comes to interviews, every company has their own unique set of questions that they like to ask. And FEMA is no different.

If you’re interviewing for a job with FEMA, you can expect to be asked questions about your experience with emergency management, your ability to handle stress, and your knowledge of the agency’s policies and procedures.

To help you prepare for your interview, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most common FEMA interview questions, along with sample answers to help you craft your own responses.

FEMA Interview Process

The interview process at FEMA can vary depending on the position you are applying for. However, most interviews will be conducted over the phone or via Zoom, and will usually involve a panel of interviewers asking questions about your experience and qualifications. The length of the hiring process can also vary, but is typically around 2-3 weeks.

Common FEMA Interview Questions

1. Tell me about a time that you had to coordinate among multiple federal agencies. How did you accomplish your goals?

This question can help the interviewer understand your ability to work with other agencies and how you accomplished your goals. Use examples from previous experience that highlight your communication skills, problem-solving abilities and leadership qualities.

Example: “In my current role as a disaster relief specialist, I often have to coordinate with multiple federal agencies. For example, when responding to Hurricane Harvey last year, I had to communicate with FEMA, the Department of Transportation, the National Guard and many others. I used my strong interpersonal skills to build relationships with these agencies so they would be more willing to share information with me. This helped me make informed decisions about where our team should go for rescue missions.”

2. What is the biggest challenge in the emergency management industry today?

This question can help an interviewer get a better sense of your knowledge and experience in the industry. FEMA is looking for candidates who have a passion for emergency management, so it’s important to show that you understand what challenges are currently facing the industry.

Example: “The biggest challenge in the emergency management industry today is the lack of funding. In my last role as an emergency manager, I had to make some tough decisions about which areas we could afford to focus on during natural disasters. It was difficult having to decide between helping people with food or water versus those who needed medical attention. If elected to this position, I would work hard to ensure FEMA has the funds necessary to provide assistance to all citizens.”

3. Why do you want to work at FEMA?

This question can help the interviewer get to know you better and understand why you are interested in working for FEMA. It is important to show your passion for this role by explaining what attracted you to it, how you found out about it or any other details that may be relevant.

Example: “I want to work at FEMA because I am passionate about helping people during times of crisis. When I was younger, my family experienced a flood, and we were evacuated to a shelter. The staff there made us feel safe and comfortable, and they provided us with food and entertainment. Ever since then, I have wanted to do something similar to give back to others.”

4. Describe a time when you worked with someone who was not performing up to expectations, how did you handle it?

This question can help the interviewer determine how you handle conflict and whether you have experience working with a team. When answering this question, it can be helpful to mention a specific example of when you helped someone improve their performance or behavior.

Example: “In my current role as an emergency management specialist, I work closely with many different people from various departments within our organization. In one instance, I noticed that one of my colleagues was not responding to emails in a timely manner. I approached them privately and asked if everything was okay. They told me they were having some personal issues but would try to respond more quickly. I offered to help them out by taking on some of their responsibilities until they felt better.”

5. Have you ever been involved in any public speaking engagements?

Public speaking is a skill that many FEMA employees need to have. The interviewer wants to know if you are comfortable in front of an audience and how much experience you have with public speaking. If you do not have any public speaking experience, you can talk about other types of presentations or speeches you’ve given.

Example: “I have never been involved in any public speaking engagements, however I am very comfortable in front of large groups. In my last position as a disaster relief coordinator, I was responsible for giving weekly updates on the status of our team’s work. I always felt confident when presenting these updates and received positive feedback from my colleagues.”

6. Give an example of a time you were able to help someone else achieve their goal.

This question is an opportunity to show your leadership skills and ability to work with others. When answering this question, it can be helpful to mention a time you helped someone else succeed in their goals or career path.

Example: “When I was working as a teacher’s aide at my high school, one of the teachers had to leave for medical reasons. The principal asked me if I would be willing to take over teaching that class until they found a replacement. I agreed, and I ended up being able to teach that class for two months before finding a permanent replacement. During those two months, I was able to help students learn more about the subject matter and improve their grades.”

7. Do you have experience working for a governmental organization?

This question is an opportunity to show the interviewer that you have experience working for a government agency. If you do, share your experiences and how they prepared you for this role. If you don’t, explain why you’re interested in working for a governmental organization.

Example: “I worked as a volunteer firefighter for five years before I moved here. Working with my team taught me how to work together toward a common goal while also supporting each other. It’s important to me to be part of a team where everyone supports one another and works hard to achieve their goals.”

8. Explain what you think are the differences between disasters and emergencies.

This question is a great way to test your knowledge of FEMA and its operations. It also allows you to show the interviewer that you understand how important it is to know the difference between these two terms.

Example: “I think there are several differences between disasters and emergencies, but I believe the most significant one is time. When an event occurs, it’s considered an emergency because it needs immediate attention. However, when the event has passed, it becomes a disaster. Another major difference is location. An emergency can occur anywhere in the country, while a disaster only happens in specific locations.”

9. Can you give an example of a time where you used interpersonal skills to solve a problem?

FEMA employees must be able to work well with others, so interviewers may ask this question to learn more about your teamwork skills. When answering this question, try to describe a time when you used your communication and problem-solving skills to help resolve a conflict or challenge.

Example: “In my last position as an emergency management specialist, I worked on a team that was responsible for developing disaster preparedness plans for several counties in the state. One county had a unique situation where they were unable to build a new shelter because of zoning laws. Instead, we decided to create a plan that would allow them to use their current building during a natural disaster. The county officials were very happy with our solution.”

10. What would be your approach to planning an event for National Preparedness Month?

This question is an opportunity to show your creativity and problem-solving skills. You can answer this question by describing how you would plan a fun event that encourages people to prepare for emergencies.

Example: “I think it’s important to have fun while also encouraging preparedness. I would start by identifying the target audience, which in this case would be families with children. Then, I would create a theme based on something kids love, like superheroes or dinosaurs. Next, I would find sponsors who are willing to donate prizes for games and activities at the event. Finally, I would work with local emergency management agencies to ensure they have enough volunteers to staff the event.”

11. When communicating with the public during times of crisis, how can you make sure that people get accurate information?

The interviewer may ask you a question like this to assess your communication skills and how you can use them to help the public during emergencies. In your answer, demonstrate that you have strong interpersonal skills and are able to communicate clearly with others in stressful situations.

Example: “I believe it’s important to always be honest when communicating with the public about emergency situations. I would make sure that all information I shared was accurate and up-to-date so people could make informed decisions about their safety. If I needed to provide bad news or share information that might cause concern, I would do my best to soften the delivery by using calm and reassuring language.”

12. What would you consider to be the most important function of an Emergency Management Specialist?

This question is an opportunity to show your knowledge of FEMA and the role of an Emergency Management Specialist. You can use this question as a way to explain what you know about FEMA, but also how you would apply that knowledge in your work with the agency.

Example: “I believe the most important function of an Emergency Management Specialist is to be prepared for any emergency situation. As someone who has worked in emergency management for several years now, I understand the importance of having a plan in place before disaster strikes. I am always looking for ways to improve our department’s response plans so we are ready for whatever comes our way.”

13. If hired as an Emergency Management Specialist, what qualities would you bring to our team?

This question is an opportunity to show your knowledge of FEMA and the skills you have that would be beneficial to the agency. When answering this question, it can be helpful to mention a specific skill or two that you possess and how they could help you succeed in this role.

Example: “I am highly organized and detail-oriented, which I think are important qualities for emergency management specialists. In my previous roles, I’ve had to manage large amounts of information and data, so I’m used to keeping track of many details at once. This skill has helped me stay on top of deadlines and meet expectations.”

14. How do you feel about traveling?

FEMA employees often travel to disaster areas. The interviewer wants to know if you’re willing to relocate and how much you enjoy traveling. Your answer should show that you are excited about the opportunity to see new places and help people in need.

Example: “I love traveling, especially when it’s for work. I find it so rewarding to be able to help others who have lost everything. I’m always eager to learn more about different cultures and ways of life. I think my experiences as a traveler make me a better person and FEMA employee.”

15. Are you familiar with disaster assistance programs?

FEMA offers a variety of programs to help communities recover from natural disasters. The interviewer may ask this question to see if you have experience with these programs and how they can benefit the community. Use your answer to highlight any relevant skills or knowledge that will help you succeed in this role.

Example: “I am familiar with FEMA’s disaster assistance programs, including Individual Assistance, which provides grants for temporary housing, home repairs, replacement vehicles and other essential needs. I also know about FEMA’s Public Assistance program, which helps state and local governments cover emergency response costs and long-term recovery efforts. In my previous position, I helped develop an outreach plan to educate residents on these programs so they could apply for assistance after a hurricane.”

16. What do you think is the best way to engage youth in emergency preparedness education?

The FEMA interviewer may ask this question to learn more about your background in teaching and how you can help the agency reach out to youth. Use examples from your experience that show you know what methods work best for engaging young people.

Example: “I think it’s important to make emergency preparedness education fun and interactive, so I would try to find ways to engage students with hands-on activities. For example, when I taught a class on disaster preparedness at my previous job, I created an activity where students had to use their knowledge of first aid to treat a pretend injury. This helped them remember the information better because they were actively engaged.”

17. Which type of hazard poses the greatest threat to your community?

This question is an opportunity to show your knowledge of FEMA’s mission and the types of hazards that can affect communities. You should be able to identify a specific hazard, its causes and how you would respond to it if hired.

Example: “I believe tornadoes pose the greatest threat to my community because they are unpredictable and can cause significant damage in a short amount of time. Tornadoes have been known to destroy entire neighborhoods, so I would work with local officials to develop a plan for responding to these events. My first step would be to make sure everyone was aware of the tornado warning system and what to do when one is issued.”

18. What types of hazards do you regularly encounter in your daily life?

This question is an opportunity to show the interviewer that you are aware of potential hazards in your community and how you would respond to them. You can also use this question as a chance to demonstrate your problem-solving skills by describing how you handled these situations in the past.

Example: “I live in Florida, so hurricanes are always a concern for me. I have been through several hurricanes in my life, including Hurricane Irma last year. During these storms, I make sure to stay informed about evacuation orders and emergency procedures. If I am at home during a storm, I will gather supplies like food, water and flashlights. I also keep important documents such as birth certificates and social security cards in a safe place.”

19. How do you stay updated on current events?

FEMA employees need to be aware of current events and natural disasters. This question helps the interviewer learn about your news-reading habits and how you stay informed. In your answer, share what sources you read or subscribe to and why they’re important to you.

Example: “I have a few subscriptions to online publications that cover national and international news. I also follow several FEMA social media accounts for updates on emergency situations. I find these resources helpful because they provide me with information as it happens so I can respond quickly if there’s an issue.”

20. How would you describe your leadership style?

FEMA employees often need to lead teams of other FEMA employees and contractors. The agency needs leaders who can motivate their team members, delegate tasks effectively and make decisions that benefit the entire organization. When answering this question, describe your leadership style in detail and explain how it helps you succeed as a FEMA employee.

Example: “I believe my leadership style is collaborative. I like to involve all team members in decision-making processes so they feel invested in the outcome. I also think it’s important for leaders to be approachable, so I try to make myself available to answer questions or address concerns. In my last role, these strategies helped me build strong relationships with my team and achieve excellent results.”


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