Candidate: Unique or Clone?

It's not the interview questions that are the problem, it's the answers! Unfortunately many candidates become clones of one another and give clone answers.


It wouldn't take you long sitting on an oral board panel to discover even with all their qualifications how many candidates are not prepared to take a firefighter interview. It's not the interview questions that are the problem, it's the answers! Unfortunately many candidates become clones...


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They really knew their stuff and not having any oral experience myself, I was very impressed, along with the rest of my class. My question is that these guys were so well rehearsed and knew each question and answers like the back of their hand, they sounded like actors in a play-anybody could tell that everything down to expressions, and hand motions had been practiced over and over to perfection.

Is this what interviewers want when they interview you? Do they really want to see rehearsed answers? Don't get me wrong, the answers were very good, but seemed so artificial. Please let me know if it's better to answer questions to the best of your knowledge, or just to memorize good answers. Thanks, any input would be great.

Reply: What you saw was a perfect example of turning candidates into Clones. It's impressive at first. But if you felt it was too rehearsed, so will the oral board panel. When you see it over and over again it gets old and puts the panel into a daze. We could tell who the instructors were, which academy or college program they came from or what book that got their answer, word for word without personalizing it, from many of the clone candidates by the second or third question. The candidates often even looked alike right down to that narrow mustache.

This will stick out in an interview. One thing about clone candidates; they will end up with a score that will put them in the clone pack.

One of our officers was going to be on an oral board panel for our department. He had been telling people that he could tell which candidates I coached. After the interviews, he was telling us about this great candidate who nailed his interview and came out number one.

I asked him if he thought the guy had been coached? He said he was so good using his own stuff he couldn't have been. When I told him this was one of my candidates, he screamed . . . NO WAY! Yep, he's one of our guys.

Not only that, this flight medic guy had been testing for over 3 years. He scored 532 on his last test in Stockton. He came to us three weeks before his oral with our department. He had great stuff, but didn't know how to present it. The magic can often happen quicker than you think. Here's a young lad with far less credentials that learned the combination to the vault without being a clone: Captain Bob, I would just like to say thank you! I am only twenty-one, and no college degree, but thanks to your program I have received two job offers! After months of practicing with a tape recorder and rehearsing my answers, the only head-splitting decision I have to make is between a great big agency and my hometown department! Thanks again! Chris from California

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