Thread: situational questions
06-29-2008, 11:16 PM #1
- Join Date
- Oct 2007
I have taken 3 tests and have avg 84 on all of them. I think that I finally narrowed my problem down to the situational questions. An example is "you notice a firefighter that takes $50 dollars and pockets it while doing overhaul." Any suggestions on these situational questions or reading comprehension as well. Thanks.
06-29-2008, 11:44 PM #2
- Join Date
- Aug 2002
- San Francisco Bay Area
Oral Board Scenario: Questions
This is a previous Firehouse.com article from the careers section here:
Do you think you have what it takes to answer situation questions correctly?....answer these following questions:
What would you do as a rookie FF? Your Captain asks you to come inside his office to review your final evaluation of probation. When you notice a smell of alcohol on his breath?
This is a perfect example how you can be fooled on a scenario question. I believe there are only 30 oral board questions. They can be disguised in hundreds of different ways. This is one of the disguises for drinking on the job, which is number 12 on our 30 plus list below.
Here is a simple way to break a disguised question down. Dissect the question down to its simplest term, one word, of what the question is really about (i.e. stealing, drugs, drinking, etc.). Once you have removed the disguise, you can place it in one of the 30 plus oral board questions you already have answers for.
This is one of the simple tools we have to uncomplicate the oral board process.
One way to help you do this is picture a piece of paper with a line drawn down the center. On the left of the line are issues dealing with ethics, such as stealing, drugs, or drinking. With ethical issues, you ask appropriate questions to determine what you suspect.
If true, you don't deviate . . you go straight up to a supervisor. On the right side of the line is anything to do with getting along with others; you will go to great lengths to work it out before going to a supervisor. If you can decide what side of the line the question belongs, you have a better chance of knowing how to answer the question.
So take off the disguise of that this is your captain. Dissect the question down to its simplest form; one word. What is this about? Right, drinking. What side of the line is this on? Right or left. If it's on the left side of the line what do we do? Drinking is not tolerated. Right again, ask questions to determine if your suspicions are correct (are you drinking?). If so, you go straight up(why don't we go to our supervisor) no matter who or what rank is on the other side of the table; and stick to your answer no matter what. YOU WILL NEVER BE WRONG! TRUST ME!
The oral interview is like fantasy land. It is not like the real world. Your answers in the oral board might not be what you would do in real life. Don't fall into the trap. The board understands the rules. You can't fool them. If you try, the board will crank up the music and let you dance your fool head off. Don't try to intellectualize and bring heavy logic to this process. If you do, someone, who understands the rules in fantasy land better will get the badge. So, please follow the yellow brick road rules in fantasy land and don't look behind the curtain.
Here's another way this question can be disguised:
You go in the locker room and see a fellow firefighter drinking something that looks like alcohol. What do you do? The clone, soap opera answer would be: I would try to get him into the day room, play cards and try to smell his breath; or I would have him go home sick, or have another firefighter come into relieve him.
hese are all soap opera answers. Unfortunately they are taught in fire academies and fire technology programs. They will make you a "Clone" candidate. Don't go on this journey. They are insulting to the oral board. You will loose valuable points here. We are intelligent beings on the other side of the table. Give us credit for that. Don't start a soap opera.
Ask a question that would verify your suspicions and give a direct answer; not a soap opera.
Understand that if the oral board fires up a question that sounds like drinking on the job, it's going to be about drinking on the job. If it's a question that sounds like taking drugs on the job, it's going to be about taking drugs on the job; It's not going to be aspirin. If the question sounds like it's about stealing on the job, it's going to be about stealing on the job. If they fire up a question that sounds like sexual harassment, that's what it's going to be about, or they wouldn't bring it up.
If they fire up these questions, take off the disguise ask questions to verify what you suspect decide what side of the line it belongs and then take action in fantasy land. Don't be like so many candidates by starting a soap opera.
Here is the list of the "Thirty Plus Oral Board Questions":
Thirty-Plus Basic Oral Board Questions
1. Tell us about yourself.
2. Why do you want to be a firefighter? When did you decide on this career?
3. What is the job of a firefighter? Are you qualified?
4. What have you done to prepare for this position?
5. What are you bringing to the job?
6. Why do you want to work for this city or agency?
7. What do you know about his city or agency?
8. What do you like to do? What are your hobbies?
9. What are your strengths? Weaknesses?
10. What would your employer say about you?
11. What are the attributes of a firefighter? What is the most important one to you?
How Would You Handle the Following Scenarios?
12. Drinking or drugs on the job?
13. Stealing on the job?
14. Conflict with another employee?
15. Irate citizen?
16. An employee crisis at an emergency?
17. Sexual harassment?
18. Racial situation?
19. Conflicting orders at an emergency?
20. An order that could place you in great danger or be morally wrong?
21. What do you say when you don't know an answer to a question?
22. Are you on any other hiring lists? What would you do if another city called you?
23. When can you start if we offered you the job?
24. How far do you want to go in the fire service? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
25. What are the quality traits of a firefighter? Which one is the most important to you?
26. Have you ever been in an emergency situation? Tell us what you did?
27. What word would best describes you in a positive way? A negative way?
28. How do you handle conflict?
29. Why would we select you over the other candidates?
30. Do you have anything to add?
It's your job to take off the disguise and find the real question and have a "Nugget" answer to satisfy the oral board, get your best score on the answer and cause the board to go onto the next question.
This "Nugget" tool is one of several that can separate you from number 40 and below on a list to between 1 and 10 where you get a shot at the badge.
You'll know the difference when the call comes in to go to the Chief's oral. It can happen quicker than you can imagine.
Absolutely nothing counts 'til you have the badge. Nothing!
Last edited by CaptBob; 06-29-2008 at 11:46 PM._____________________________________________
"Nothing counts 'til you have the badge . . . Nothing!"
More Tips on getting hired and promoted by Firehouse Contributing Author Fire “Captain Bob” Articles here:
Fire "Captain Bob"
06-30-2008, 12:51 AM #3
- Join Date
- Nov 2005
Situational questions are designed to see how a candidate will respond if faced with adversity. The following are common areas of potential conflict:
1. Moral issues
2. Ethical dilemmas
3. Legal issues
4. Societal obligations
5. Violations of established policies and procedures
6. Interpersonal conflicts
Most candidates focus too hard on what they think the board wants to hear rather than saying what’s really on their mind. Here is a typical example:
Moral issue: As you watch the engineer back up the rig, you see him accidentally strike a car. As you approach, you observe him trying to rub out a deep scratch on the vehicle that he hit. When he notices you watching, he tries to make light of it, and tells you not to worry. You tell him that you feel it’s important that he bring it to the captain’s attention. He explains that it’s an “old, junky” car. He adds that in the fire service, everyone sticks together, and asks you to “cover” his back on this one.
Most candidates misinterpret the point of this question. They are confused by the “brotherhood” of the fire service, and believe that firefighters are willing to lie for the good of a co-worker. Nothing can be further from the truth, since a true firefighter doesn’t lie, and will refuse to cover anything up.
The best way to answer a situational question like this is to determine how you would handle it in your everyday life. Let’s say you and a friend are leaving the parking lot of a restaurant, when he accidentally backs into another car. He leaves a dent, but tells you he doesn’t plan on doing anything about it. What would you do and why?
No matter how loyal a friend you are, I don’t believe you’d be willing to turn your back on the fact that he just damaged someone’s vehicle. You will most likely persuade him to try to locate the owner of the vehicle or call the police. If he refuses to do either of these things, you will probably encourage him to at least leave a note for the owner of the vehicle. You might remind your friend that leaving the scene of an accident, no matter how minor, is illegal and would be considered a hit and run.
For some reason, many candidates believe that firefighters can get away with doing something immoral, unethical and/or illegal.
There are some common rules of thumb when dealing with moral issues. In every situation, it’s imperative to do the right thing. In this situation, the right thing would be to step up and take a stand against the action. Remember, even though an action may be legal, it can still be immoral. It’s a firefighter’s duty to make a moral decision whether it is for himself or a co-worker. A candidate would be expected to know this and respond accordingly.
Firefighters do not operate in “gray” areas. If something is wrong, it is wrong. Even if there’s only a perception that it may be wrong, it is usually wrong. Perception often ends up being reality. It is important to maintain the dignity of the fire service. Firefighters are a rare minority of people who the public allows into their homes without a second thought. It is incumbent on all firefighters to protect and honor this privilege.
Ethical questions deal with something that may not be illegal, but either go against society’s rules or the cultural rules of the fire department. Ethical dilemmas are often related to violations of departmental policies and procedures. Policies and procedures are often written as a result of either personal injury to a firefighter or civilian or damage to equipment. In almost all cases, they stem from a monetary loss that the fire agency has suffered in the past.
An astute rater will ask a candidate if organizational policies are important. A savvy candidate will undoubtedly nod his or her head yes, and assure him that a firefighter should not, under any circumstances, violate the rules.
If, on the other hand, a candidate believes it’s acceptable for a firefighter to violate a policy because it seemed insignificant, it stands to reason that he will violate similar policies once he or she becomes a firefighter.
Departmental policies and procedures are meant to be followed. Let’s say a rookie firefighter decides that a policy is insignificant and elects to ignore it. Now let’s say an injury or accident occurs as a result of the broken policy. The probationary firefighter will be expected to outline a memo to the chief about the circumstances surrounding the incident. Predictably, the fire chief will want to know why a departmental policy was violated. He will be expected to provide the city manager or board of fire commissioners with an explanation. Imagine the frustration of the fire chief having to explain why a new firefighter violated a policy, and what the consequence of his action will be. Since a probationary employee has no civil service protection and no union representation, a serious infraction could result in his termination.
From an organizational standpoint, you cannot have members follow only the policies and procedures that they feel are important. This would result in an organization that lacks discipline and would eventually collapse. The fire service has adopted many of the military’s policies and procedures. This is why the fire department is considered a paramilitary organization. If it’s assumed that a soldier would never violate a policy or procedure, why not assume the same with a firefighter?
In most situations, the moral or ethical dilemma wouldn’t personally involve you. The dilemma would be for the firefighter who is either asking or implying that you should look the other way. You know what you would do if you were in your fellow firefighter’s shoes. You would take the high road and do the right thing. Your challenge will be to convince your comrade to do the right thing. Doing the right thing isn’t always easy, but it’s the only way to go.
Legal issues are usually pretty clear-cut. Most candidates understand the importance of taking action when a situation is illegal. Candidates who don’t understand this will not usually fare well during the interview.
Societal obligations, however, are usually in the “gray area.” It can be much more difficult to decide between right and wrong when it involves an action that comes close to crossing the line of good judgment.
In this situation it’s important to investigate and gather the facts. If it appears that there has been some type of wrongdoing, you need to make it clear that you would step in and address the situation. The panel does not expect you to suggest there be an in-depth investigation. Your response could simply be that you would address the fact that something was wrong, and would refer the situation to your captain.
Interpersonal conflicts not only create an uncomfortable working environment, but also erode crew unity. There are numerous situational questions that are designed to determine how a candidate deals with these conflicts. While people deal with interpersonal conflicts every day, conflicts in a fire station can be magnified because firefighters live, eat and sleep in close quarters for extended periods of time.
The purpose of these questions is to determine which candidates will get along with others. Candidates who grew up in large families and those who played team sports have an advantage in this area since they are used to dealing with many types of personalities.
When confronted with an interpersonal conflict, it is important to approach the individual and attempt to clear the air. A savvy candidate will suggest asking the other firefighter if he or she is doing something that needs to be changed. Instead of assuming that the other firefighter is off base, it is important to ask (and listen) and then do what you can to improve the situation.
Whatever the cause of the irritation, it is important for the candidate to be humble. As you root your way down to the source of the conflict, it may be that you are not meeting the standard. It may also be that you are not perceived as being a team player.
You see a senior FF put what looks like a department handheld radio in his car. Later the captain reports that a radio is missing. What do you do?
If you fundamentally believe that firefighters don’t steal, this is an easy question. Let me paint a picture for you. I leave my wallet, day runner and all of my valuables on my desk. I don’t even have a key to my locker. In any other work environment people would think I was crazy, but in a fire station it is commonplace.
In 20 years of living in a fire station I have never had anything disappear. I have left things in another station and had them arrive in departmental mail (shampoo, toiletry kit and towel). Why would someone take the time to send the shampoo that I left in the shower? It’s because the men and women of the fire department are extremely honest.
I trust my life to my co-workers. Everyone who is a firefighter shares the same code of honor. FIREFIGHTERS DON”T STEAL.
The question states that I saw (at least I think I saw) the senior firefighter put a portable radio in his car. It is imperative to gather the facts. The “radio” may have been his or her child’s walkie-talkie or a hand held VHF radio that he was charging for an upcoming fishing trip. You just cannot be certain without gathering more information.
I would approach the senior firefighter, already knowing there is a reasonable explanation, because FIREFIGHTERS DON’T STEAL). I would expect him or her to provide me with a legitimate reason. When I get that answer, I would do nothing further. If I can trust him or her with my life, I can certainly trust that same person to tell me the truth about a radio.
If you accuse the firefighter, you are done for. This is the same firefighter who is going to take time out of his or her busy life to make sure that you pass probation, to mentor you and to show you the ropes. You don’t want to alienate him or her.
There are a lot of reasons that the crew’s portable radio could be missing. These things break on a regular basis. Remember, radios are electronic devices that are carried into harsh environments. They are exposed to heat and water, which are both instant death for a radio. They get dropped on a regular basis. There is a good chance that the engineer tagged the radio and sent it to the shop, and simply forgot to tell the captain. Ironically, you saw the firefighter putting his or her personal VHF radio into the car. OUCH. Imagine how strained your relationship would be after accusing your senior firefighter.
I keep stating that firefighters don’t steal. I truly believe this to be true. Is there a one in a million chance that the firefighter stole the radio? Yes, there is. That’s why I gathered the facts. I approached (not confronted, as this implies a fight) and asked the senior firefighter about the radio. When he or she gave me a reasonable explanation, I was done with the matter.
If the firefighter had told me to mind my own business, take a hike or keep my mouth shut, we would now have a problem. I am not saying the firefighter is stealing, but I am suspicious.
I would explain that I was not sure what was going on here (you still don’t want to accuse him or her of stealing) but I was really uncomfortable with the situation. I would state that we need to take this matter to the captain.
The firefighter tells you to mind your own business.
I would explain to him or her that I have an obligation to the department, the citizens and myself to bring this to the captain.
The firefighter tells you that if you bring this to the captain’s attention, everyone will think you are a snitch.
Unfortunately that is a chance I will have to take. Again, I have an obligation.
I would then explain to the firefighter that he or she would look better in the eyes of the captain by coming forward on his or her own. If the firefighter is unwilling to go to the captain, I will offer to accompany him or her, or go to the captain on my own if necessary.
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