30 Lifeguard Interview Questions (+ Sample Answers)

Stepping into the interview room can feel like diving into deep waters — the pressure is palpable, and every answer can seem like a stroke against the current. Interviews are a crucial gateway to securing that ideal job, and in an industry as critical as lifeguarding, where lives could literally depend on your skills and judgment, the importance of preparation cannot be overstated.

  • For Candidates, this article is your lifesaver, designed to help you navigate through the toughest questions with ease and confidence.
  • For Interviewers, it’s your beacon, guiding you to craft questions that will shine a light on the true potential of your applicants.
  • For Mentors and Coaches, it’s a toolbox filled with strategies and guidance to help your mentees swim smoothly through the interview tide.

We will anchor your preparation in reality with sample answers to typical interview questions. So, whether you are the one aiming to climb the lifeguard chair or the person deciding who gets to sit in it, or even the one coaching from the sidelines — this article promises to enhance your readiness for the interview waves ahead.

Table of Contents

Skill-Level Determiner Questions

1. Can you describe the steps you would take if you encounter an unconscious individual who is not breathing?

This question examines the candidate’s knowledge and proficiency in performing critical lifesaving procedures.

A good answer should include:

  • Checking the scene for safety before approaching the victim.
  • Assessment of the victim’s consciousness and breathing.
  • Execution of CPR technique according to latest guidelines, including chest compressions and rescue breathing, if certified.
Sample Answer: 

“First, I would ensure the area around the victim is safe. Then, I would check responsiveness by tapping and shouting, 'Are you okay?’ If there’s no response, I would call for help and immediately begin CPR. I’d perform chest compressions at a rate of 100-120 per minute, followed by two rescue breaths. I would continue until help arrives or the victim starts breathing.”

2. Can you describe the proper procedure for performing a water rescue?

This question assesses the candidate’s practical knowledge of rescue methods, which is a core responsibility of a lifeguard. An effective rescue operation is critical to saving a life without putting oneself in danger.

A good answer should include:

  • An understanding of the assessment of the situation for potential hazards.
  • Knowledge of various rescue techniques and when to use them.
  • Emphasis on personal safety, victim’s safety, and efficient usage of rescue equipment.
Sample Answer: 

"When performing a water rescue, the first step is to quickly assess the situation, including any potential hazards to myself or the victim. If it's safe, I would use the 'reach or throw, don’t go' technique to assist the person in trouble. 

If the person is unresponsive or the situation is critical, I would use a rescue tube for buoyancy, approach the victim with care to prevent them from grabbing me in panic, and then backstroke to the edge of the pool, supporting the victim's head and keeping it above water."

3. Describe the different strokes you are proficient in and how each technique is beneficial in a lifeguarding context.

The interviewer wants to confirm that the candidate has a breadth of swimming skills to adapt to various rescue situations.

A good answer should include:

  • Detailed description of proficient swimming strokes (freestyle, breaststroke, etc.).
  • Explanation of how each stroke is used in different rescue scenarios.
  • Understanding of the importance of stamina and strength for lifeguarding.
Sample Answer: 

"I'm proficient in freestyle and breaststroke, which are the fastest for covering long distances. I also use the sidestroke and elementary backstroke for rescues since they are stable and allow me to keep my eyes on the victim. Technique matters for efficiency and strength preservation during rescues."

4. How do you maintain effective surveillance over a crowded beach or pool area?

This question assesses the candidate’s vigilance, noting their ability to watch carefully over swimmers.

A good answer should include:

  • Mention of scanning techniques and dividing the area into manageable zones.
  • Discussing a system of regularly alternating focus between different areas.
  • Highlight the importance of staying alert and minimizing distractions.
Sample Answer: 

"I divide the area into zones and systematically scan each one, making sure not to rush and to frequently change focus. Effective scanning includes checking the bottom of the pool as well as the surface. I minimize distractions by not engaging in conversation while on duty."

5. Can you describe the different water rescue techniques that you are trained in and how you apply them?

This question assesses the candidate’s hands-on experience with various rescue methods and their ability to apply the right technique in different scenarios.

A good answer should include:

  • Mention of both passive and active rescue techniques.
  • Examples of when they’ve used specific techniques in real-life situations.
  • Recognition of the importance of adapting techniques to the environment and casualty’s condition.
Sample Answer: 

"In my previous role, I was trained in both active and passive rescue techniques. For instance, I've employed the reach or throw method in situations where a victim was close to safety and conscious. In cases where a victim was unconscious, I used the wade-in approach to secure them with the least risk to myself. 

During my last summer working at a busy beach, I had to perform a deep-water rescue using a torpedo buoy for an unconscious swimmer, which was conducted in line with the protocols we practiced during training sessions."

Other Skill-Level Determiner Questions:

  • What are the common signs of drowning or swimmer distress that you look for as a lifeguard?
  • How frequently do you inspect safety equipment, and what is your process?
  • What steps do you take in the case of a medical emergency at your facility?

Behavioral-Based Questions

1. Describe an instance when you dealt with a non-compliant visitor at the pool. How did you resolve this situation?

This question is meant to assess the candidate’s interpersonal skills and their ability to enforce rules while maintaining a professional demeanor.

A good answer should include:

  • Relate a specific example where you had to enforce rules.
  • Detail how you communicated effectively and assertively.
  • Explain the resolution, maintaining a focus on safety and customer service.
Sample Answer (STAR Method): 

"I recall a specific situation where I encountered a visitor who was endangering himself and others by repeatedly diving in a no-diving zone. My task was to enforce safety regulations and prevent potential injuries. I approached him with composure and clarity, utilizing my communication skills to explain the safety rules and the reasons behind them. 

After listening to his initial objections, I calmly reiterated the necessity of adhering to the rules for the well-being of all patrons. The conversation concluded positively when he acknowledged his understanding and agreed to comply with the regulations. His cooperation helped maintain a safe swimming environment, reflecting my ability to manage rule violations effectively."

2. Describe a time when you had to make a quick decision in a high-pressure situation as a lifeguard.

This question aims to assess the candidate’s ability to react swiftly and decisively during critical circumstances.

A good answer should include:

  • Recall a specific situation that shows your ability to assess the scene quickly and act without hesitation.
  • Explain the thought process behind your decision-making at the moment.
  • Discuss the outcome and whether your actions resolved the situation effectively.
Sample Answer (STAR Method):

"During a routine shift, I observed a distressing situation where a swimmer appeared to suddenly cease movement and begin to sink. Recognizing the urgent task at hand, I immediately signaled for an emergency and expertly entered the water. I took swift and precise action, securing the swimmer and performing a rescue tow, ensuring her airways remained unobstructed throughout. 

Upon reaching the edge of the pool, the swimmer expelled water and regained consciousness. My rapid response and situational assessment not only ensured the swimmer's safety but also contributed to a successful rescue with a positive outcome."

3. Tell us about a time when you had to handle a conflict between patrons at your facility.

This question probes the candidate’s conflict resolution skills and ability to maintain a harmonious environment.

A good answer should include:

  • Discuss a specific instance that presented a challenge in maintaining peace among patrons.
  • Outline your strategy in addressing the issue and the steps taken to de-escalate the conflict.
  • Describe the resolution and any follow-up actions you took to prevent future issues.
Sample Answer (STAR Method):

"On a particularly busy day, I was faced with a challenging situation where two patrons were involved in an escalating dispute regarding the usage of the diving boards. My task was to defuse the tension and find a resolution. By actively listening to both parties without interruption and acknowledging their feelings, I was able to maintain a neutral stance. 

Subsequently, I explained the facility rules to both patrons and proposed a fair alternative, offering them staggered times to use the boards. This approach effectively dissolved the confrontation and established a schedule to prevent similar disputes in the future."

4. Can you provide an example of a time when you had to work as part of a team during an emergency situation at the pool?

Lifeguards often work in teams, especially during emergencies, and this question assesses the ability to collaborate effectively.

A good answer should include:

  • Highlight communication and teamwork skills.
  • Explain the roles and responsibilities of team members during the emergency.
  • Demonstrate your ability to contribute to a successful outcome.
Sample Answer (STAR Method):

"I was part of a critical incident last summer when a swimmer experienced a seizure mid-swim, which required immediate and well-coordinated action. As a lifeguard team member, my task involved assisting in the safe extraction of the victim from the pool while managing the surrounding area. 

Through clear communication and teamwork, I successfully supported the primary rescuer and later participated in aftercare procedures. The swimmer made a full recovery, and by working cohesively with my team, we were able to manage the emergency smoothly and without panic."

5. Tell me about a time when you felt overwhelmed at work and how you handled it.

This question gauges the applicant’s resilience and stress management skills, which are critical in a lifesaving role.

A good answer should include:

  • Acknowledge the factors that contributed to feeling overwhelmed
  • Describe the strategies you used to manage your stress and duties
  • Outline the outcome or what you learned from the experience
Sample Answer (STAR Method):

"Facing an understaffed situation at the pool, I felt the weight of additional responsibilities on my shoulders. To manage this challenge, I took a moment to compose myself, utilized deep breathing techniques to remain calm, and prioritized the essential tasks to maintain vigilance over the swimming area. By sticking to routine procedures, I ensured comprehensive supervision. 

Subsequently, I took initiative by discussing the staffing issue with management, emphasizing the importance of sufficient lifeguard coverage. This led to a discussion that resulted in improved scheduling protocols, enhancing staff readiness for future shifts."

Other Behavioral-Based Questions:

  • Describe a time when you adapted to significant changes in the workplace.
  • Recount an instance where you provided excellent customer service in a challenging situation.
  • Tell me about a moment when you had to rely on your communication skills to get a message across clearly to a group.

Situational Questions

1. If you noticed a swimmer who appears to be unconscious in the water, what would be your immediate steps?

This looks into the candidate’s ability to respond promptly and appropriately to a potential drowning incident.

A good answer should include:

  • Highlight the importance of rapid assessment and response.
  • Detail priority actions such as activating the emergency action plan and providing immediate assistance.
  • Emphasize the procedure for involving EMS and coordination with team members.
Sample Answer: 

“I would blow my whistle to signal an emergency and to alert my fellow lifeguards. I’d then immediately enter the water using the quickest and safest method, ensuring not to cause any harm to the victim or myself. 

Once with the victim, I'd assess responsiveness and start rescue breathing or CPR, if needed, while someone else calls EMS. We would remove the victim from the water as soon as it's safe and possible.”

2. Imagine you are the only lifeguard on duty and dealing with a minor first-aid situation when you notice a second, potentially more serious incident in the water. How do you handle this?

This tests the candidate’s prioritization and multitasking skills in emergencies.

A good answer should include:

  • Explain the importance of addressing the most life-threatening situation first.
  • Discuss the need to call for backup or alert bystanders if necessary.
  • Describe quick assessment and decisive action to ensure everyone’s safety.
Sample Answer: 

“My first priority is to assess which situation poses a greater immediate risk to life. I would quickly perform first aid if it is minor, and then immediately address the more serious water incident, signaling for emergency backup. 

If both are serious, I’d signal for help and prioritize the water rescue, giving clear instructions to bystanders to aid the first aid situation, if possible.”

3. A patron is trying to persuade you to let their child swim in the deep end, but you’ve observed the child struggling in the shallow water. What do you do?

This checks the lifeguard’s adherence to safety protocols and ability to communicate effectively with patrons.

A good answer should include:

  • Affirm the importance of safety and the lifeguard’s authority in decision-making.
  • Illustrate firm yet courteous communication.
  • Suggest alternatives to satisfy the patron while maintaining safety standards.
Sample Answer: 

“I would explain to the patron that it's my responsibility to ensure all swimmers’ safety and, based on my observation, allowing their child into the deep end could be dangerous. I would suggest the child take a swim test to demonstrate their ability or offer information on swimming lessons to help improve their skills.”

4. The weather suddenly changes during your shift, and the pool must be closed immediately. However, several patrons are resistant to leaving. What steps do you take?

This evaluates problem-solving and negotiation skills in enforcing safety protocols under adverse conditions.

A good answer should include:

  • State the importance of communicating the danger clearly to patrons.
  • Discuss the use of assertiveness and professional demeanor to gain compliance.
  • Mention the steps to take should patrons continue to refuse to cooperate.
Sample Answer: 

“I’d explain the reasons for closing the pool clearly and calmly, emphasizing their safety is at risk. If they still resist, I'd reiterate the policy and warn of potential consequences. Should they still refuse, I’d proceed according to company protocol, which may involve calling for managerial or security assistance.”

5. How would you respond if while conducting a rescue, the victim begins to panic and becomes aggressive towards you?

This addresses the candidate’s ability to manage challenging rescue situations where the victim’s panic can create additional risks.

A good answer should include:

  • Discuss the importance of remaining calm and reassuring to the victim.
  • Explain maneuvering techniques to safely handle a panicking swimmer.
  • Highlight the use of de-escalation tactics to minimize the risk of injury to both parties.
Sample Answer: 

“I'd approach the victim from behind to avoid being grabbed. I’d speak to them calmly and clearly, trying to reassure them while moving them into a rescue position that reduces my risk of being harmed. If the aggression escalates, I would disengage and attempt the rescue again, ensuring my own safety as well.”

Other Situational-Based Questions:

  • How would you handle a situation where two swimmers begin to argue and physically fight in the pool area?
  • What measures would you take if you detected an unsafe chemical odor near the pool?
  • If a child goes missing on your watch, describe the steps you’d immediately take.

Organizational Fit Questions

1. How do you see yourself contributing to our facility’s mission of promoting water safety and a family-friendly atmosphere?

This question assesses the potential impact of the candidate’s personal values and lifeguard philosophy on the facility’s mission and aims to affirm alignment with the organization’s goals.

A good answer should include:

  • Demonstrate understanding of the facility’s mission.
  • Discuss how your lifeguarding skills and experience align with promoting safety and enjoyment.
  • Highlight personal traits that contribute to a supportive and engaging environment.
Sample Answer: 

"I am passionate about water safety and have always strived to create an inclusive environment where families feel secure. My vigilant oversight and preventive approach to lifeguarding directly contribute to this mission. I also enjoy engaging with patrons positively, further fostering a friendly atmosphere."

2. Describe how you maintain high ethical standards while performing your duties as a lifeguard.

This question measures the candidate’s integrity and dedication to upholding ethical practices in their professional conduct.

A good answer should include:

  • Share your commitment to core lifeguarding principles like vigilance, accountability, and confidentiality.
  • Discuss the importance of unbiased enforcement of rules and procedures.
  • Mention past experiences where you demonstrated moral judgment and professionalism.
Sample Answer: 

"I maintain high ethical standards by consistently abiding by the lifeguard's code of conduct, treating every patron equally, and enforcing rules without prejudice. I respect the privacy of individuals when dealing with sensitive situations and always report factual information regarding any incidents."

3. Describe how you would fit into a company culture that values consistent learning and improvement.

Determines if the candidate is open to continual learning and self-improvement, values that are crucial in dynamic environments such as aquatic centers.

A good answer should include:

  • Mention your commitment to professional development and any relevant ongoing training.
  • Highlight your willingness to receive feedback for personal and professional growth.
  • Reflect on past experiences where you’ve incorporated new learning into your work.
Sample Answer: 

"I'm an advocate for continuous professional development. I regularly attend training sessions to update my skills and learn new rescue techniques. I welcome constructive feedback because it’s a valuable tool for growth. 

For instance, I improved my vigilance on duty after a supervisor recommended strategy adjustments during a performance review."

Other Organizational Fit Questions:

  • Can you talk about a time when you embraced a new policy or standard at work? How did you integrate it into your daily responsibilities?
  • What is your response to constructive criticism, and how do you implement feedback into your work?
  • How do you approach working with a diverse team with different backgrounds?

Job Interview Tips

  • Refresh your lifesaving skills, including CPR and emergency response procedures. Be ready to answer technical queries and demonstrate your abilities if required.
  • Investigate the particular challenges and rules of the venue where you’ll be lifeguarding, whether it’s a pool, beach, or water park.
  • Maintain your fitness to meet the strenuous demands of lifeguarding, and be prepared for possible swim tests to showcase your rescue capabilities.
  • Bring your lifeguarding and first aid certifications, and be ready to discuss any specialized training that sets you apart.

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Brenda Calisaan is a psychology graduate who strongly desires to impact society positively. She aspires to spread awareness and knowledge about mental health, its importance, and its impact on individuals and society.

She also has a passion for working with children and hopes to dedicate her career to positively impacting their lives.

Outside of work, Brenda is an avid traveler and enjoys exploring new experiences. She is also a music enthusiast and loves to listen to a variety of genres. When she's not on the road or working, Brenda can often be found watching interesting YouTube videos, such as Ted-Ed content.