In most fire departments, the oral interview score usually accounts for 100% of your overall score and ranking on the hiring list. Therefore, it is extremely important and critical that you properly prepare yourself for the oral interview. Many people can just "wing-it" on a written examination...
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In most fire departments, the oral interview score usually accounts for 100% of your overall score and ranking on the hiring list. Therefore, it is extremely important and critical that you properly prepare yourself for the oral interview. Many people can just "wing-it" on a written examination or physical ability test. However, it can be very difficult to "wing-it" during your oral interview, especially if you have not completely prepared yourself. If you have not completely put the time and effort into the process, than you are only wasting their time and yours. Based on my experiences and observations, here are some tips to help you successfully prepare for the oral interview:
1. Know where you are going before you get there.
I ended up driving by a fire station (which was coincidentally located by the community center, otherwise I would have been in trouble since I had not brought a map with me) and the crew did not know where the oral interview was going to be occurring (I realize that seems odd, but many departments do not inform their members of information relating to the testing process). I was basically out of luck since the time for the test had already come and gone. What is the moral of the story? I should have taken the letter the city had sent me with the location of the testing site with me that day. I should have also looked at that letter more closely well in advance. I would have still had plenty of time to get a map from AAA or download one from a site such as yahoo maps or mapquest.com - don't do the same mistake as I did!
2. Have your attire already prepared and ready to use on the day of the interview.
There is nothing worse than getting dressed for an interview and finding out that your dress shirt is still at the cleaners, or actually needs to go to the cleaners because it is wrinkled or dirty. The same goes with the rest of your dress attire. As soon as you get the notice in the mail for the interview, get your clothes ready. I also suggest having more than one dress shirt and tie so that if you damage one or get one dirty, you always have at least one backup. Also, if you are really putting some time and effort into testing, you are going to find yourself at times having more than one interview in a week (sometimes in a day)! Don't wear the same dirty shirt to the next interview; take it to the cleaners and wear your backup shirt!
3. Leave plenty of time to get to the location of the interview.
This ties into tip number one above, know where you are going before you get there. When I was testing, I was not the best at leaving plenty of time to get somewhere (for that matter, I really am that way in a lot of things in life; I do make it to work on time though). Because of my last minute leaving, I was late for a couple of written tests, and they did not let me in. For one of those, I drove an hour and a half for nothing. Could I have prevented that? Of course I could have. If possible, drive to the testing site in advance, to see how long it will take you. Once you have determined your estimated time of travel, double that time just to leave yourself some "flex-time" in case of car trouble, auto accidents, traffic delays, etc.
4. Do as much homework / research on the position as you can, well in advance of the interview.
If it is worth your time and effort to drive to the test and participate in the hiring process, than it is worth your time and effort to actually spend some time doing your homework on the agency you are testing for. The last oral interview I proctored was when my Department was hiring Volunteer / Reserve Firefighters. When they were asked questions relating to how they would be utilized as a Volunteer / Reserve Firefighter, the majority of candidates answered the questions without any knowledge of how we would be utilizing them.