After several years we went to the circus with our four grandsons. It was a new, fresh, exciting experience. In several ways it reminded me of an oral board.
If you got to the circus early now you could go down on the main floor where the three rings greeted visitors with several performing acts of elephants, jugglers, clowns, acrobats, and much, much more. This reminded me of the meet and greet when you first walk into the oral board room and answer the icebreaker question "Tell us a little about yourself".
The opening act was a large canon that shot a husband and wife at high speed half way down the auditorium. Even though you knew it was coming, everyone including my four- year-old grandson sitting in my lap jumped. I related this to your first question of "Why do you want to be a firefighter" or "What have you done to prepare for the position." Even though the panel knows your answer is coming they can be jump started in their minds by your answer; after hearing clone after clone that has put them to into a stupor la la land. A unique signature story about you they have never heard before. You hit them with bam, bam like the canon, you take them on the journey and you're on a roll. This is critical during these first few seconds of the interview.
The circus is fast moving. As a balancing act is performing in ring one, in the shadows over in ring three the crews dressed in dark clothes work stealth-like to prepare for the next stunning act of Olympic class gymnasts on high steel poles defying gravity. Think of this as you're answering a question but in your mind you are scanning your script anticipating that next question. You grin inside when the next question and the one after that you have drop down killer answers laced with your golden nugget signature stories. You're having a seamless no surprises interview.
Jugglers appeared, reminding me of being at Pier 39 on Fisherman's Warf in San Francisco where street artists perform. This particular Sunday a juggler began his performance by juggling three oranges. Then, he said throw me something, give me something. Out of the crowd came a purse with a long strap. It was immediately suspended with the 3 oranges. He yelled again throw me something, give me something. Being San Francisco a butcher knife came out of the crowd. It too was suspended with the purse with the long strap and the long oranges. Again, he called out throw me something, give me something. From the crowd appeared a black bowling ball. Effortlessly it was in the air being juggled with the butcher knife, the purse with the long strap and the three oranges. I want to invite you as the juggler in your oral boards so when you go in, sit down, and they start giving you questions you will be able to field them like the juggler returning them with your gold nugget answers to get your best score.
Returning to the Circus
Then, the announcer yells, ladies and gentlemen and children of all ages I want to call your attention to the center ring. Spotlights scan from all corners of the auditorium where the center ring is shrouded with high sheer drapes. As the drapes fall there are elephants, zebras and horses performing to the ooohs and ahaaa of the audience. It's like waiting for those questions where you are loaded for bear. As the panel turns their spotlight to you in the center ring, you pause then deliver your super nova "nugget" answers that create the thought in the panel member's minds; I have been waiting for this all week.
The announcer calls your attention high about the big top where trapeze artists perform the most difficult triple spins side by side. This is you nailing it! You know it! The feeling that builds its own energy and confidence. You're seeing the rare little smile on the faces of the oral board members. They're feeding your answers with tips and drawing you into enhance your presentation build your confidence as the circus trainers give treats to an animal that has done a great job. You've never felt this way before in an interview. You know you're coming back for the next performance that will be the chief's interview and a real shot at a badge.