Being nervous is normal. Being so nervous that it inhibits one's ability to communicate is detrimental. Are there ways to improve? You bet, but it takes time, patience and a whole bunch of work on your part.
Some candidates learn the interview skills easily while others struggle. One thing is certain, if you struggle speaking in public, you will have difficulty in the interview process. We understand that you are nervous and we make allowances for this, but if a candidate is so nervous how do you think he or she will do with the pressures encountered on the fire ground.
The best way to calm your nerves is to be proficient with your subject material. People who have prepared are ready for the task at hand. A candidate who has not prepared is apprehensive of the unknown. What if the oral board asks me...
A candidate who has taken the time to do his or homework and research the department will not be caught off guard when asked specifics about the department. The strong candidates do a wealth of research about each department in which they are seeking employment.
A candidate who has done his or her due diligence in knowing the answers to the twenty basic facts about the department will do well when asked why he wants to work for the department or when asked what he knows about the department. On the other hand, the candidate who has not learned the answer to the twenty basic questions will be unveiled and score poorly in the interview.
Another way for a candidate to calm his or her nerves is by knowing that the information that he or she is giving the board is what we are looking for. Oftentimes candidates take interviews like they cook spaghetti. They throw it against the wall and see if it sticks. Many times a candidate throws out an answer and tries to read the board to see if they like the answer. They get so nervous trying to read the poker faces of the interviewers that they completely lose sight of the question.
Candidates who know what the board is looking for don't have to try to read the oral board. They know their information is strong and are able to sit back, relax and enjoy the interview. It also doesn't hurt that they are sitting up high on several other hiring lists and know they will be hired. It's just a matter of time. These candidates do not have the fear of the unknown as does the unprepared candidate.
We all know when we have done our due diligence. The candidate who has not prepared has every reason to be nervous. Our candidates know what they need to do and execute their plan BEFORE each and every interview.