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Pre-Employment Process & Appointment

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The City of Costa Mesa’s pre-employment process is intended to ensure that the highest quality candidates are selected for employment. Prior to appointment, all candidates must pass a polygraph examination, background investigation, post-offer psychological evaluation and medical evaluation. Due to the extremely sensitive nature and related responsibilities of the Firefighter position, an extensive and comprehensive background investigation is conducted.

The polygraph examination consists of 3 phases: the pre-test, in-test (examination), and the post-test.   The in-test (examination) phase consists of the polygraph components being placed on, or attached to, the examinee, and a series of polygrams or charts being completed. 

The background investigation includes (but is not limited to) the following components:

  • Candidates must complete a 24 page personal history statement
  • Candidates must complete a Pre-Investigative Questionnaire (275 questions)
  • Mandatory meetings with the City’s background investigator
  • Review and verification of all high school and college transcripts
  • In depth background investigator interviews (in person, by phone or by questionnaire) with:
    • Family members (Parents, siblings, adult children, etc.)
    • Current and former spouses, partners, significant others
    • Acquaintances
    • Current and former supervisors, co-workers and subordinates
    • Current and former landlords, tenants, neighbors
  • Comprehensive, physical reviews of personnel files from current and former employers
  • Review and verification of DMV records
  • Thorough review of financial records and credit history
  • Livescan fingerprinting for purposes of local, state and national criminal records
  • Local police department/agency records check

The psychological evaluation consists of comprehensive questionnaires and an interview with a trained psychologist.

The medical evaluation consists of a medical history questionnaire, blood work, a drug test, physical exam, pulmonary function test, hearing test, and stress EKG.

The pre-employment process requires a significant amount of time and effort from both the candidate and the City. Candidates are strongly encouraged to carefully consider the above information regarding the pre-employment process prior to participation in the selection process. The pre-employment process ranges from 4-7 weeks.


Once a candidate has successfully passed all of the above elements, a job confirmation will be issued. At the beginning of employment, all new Firefighters will attend an in-house academy. Upon completion of the academy, the new Firefighter will be assigned to a station. 

Note: The statements on this webpage do not constitute an expressed or implied contract. Any provisions contained within may be modified or revoked without notice.