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  1. #1
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    Default "What's your biggest fault/weakness" interview question

    So, I've never been good at answering this one. Anyone have any advice??

    "What is your biggest fault or weakness??"


  2. #2
    Forum Member jlcooke3's Avatar
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    Ask a good friend or family member to tell you what they think your biggest fault/weakness is, ask them to be honest and truthful. Be prepared not to be happy with their answer and remember you asked.

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    Your answer to this question should ALWAYS be something that can still shed a positive light on you. I've talked to HR people, current firefighters, chiefs, and I've been in management myself and the consensus answer is to answer this question with something that you can turn into a strength (ie. I'm a hard worker and sometimes I devote too much time to work. I'm loyal to a fault. Once I get my teeth into something I never give up...) Remember, you are selling yourself in the oral board. People don't sell cars by saying, "Yeah, it's a good car, but the interior is cramped and the engine is sluggish." They say, "It's a great car with a nice interior and an efficient motor." Always highlight your strengths. It's a good idea to write down a list of attributes that you or others see in yourself (both positive and negative). Take this list and look up synonyms in a thesaurus and find ways to turn the bad words into positive ones.

  4. #4
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    My biggest weakness is time management. I find that being a husband, a father of two daughters, a business owner and completing 18 classes in the last 2 /12 years while earning my Bachelors degree, I find it difficult to manage my time.

    I do, however, find it easier with my Blackberry. My wife and I get together once a week and review our calendars. I am proud to say that I never miss an appointment and I am never late.

    Do I really have trouble managing my time? Absolutely not. In fact, as you an imagine, I am pretty good at it. The message I am sending to the board is that, no wonder he has trouble managing his time - he gets alot accomplished.
    Customize it for your own answer.
    Good luck,

    Paul Lepore
    Battalion Chief
    www.aspiringfirefighters.com
    Paul Lepore
    Battalion Chief
    www.aspiringfirefighters.com

  5. #5
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    just ask someone close to you and ask them to answer honestly...

  6. #6
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    Default Strengths and Weaknesses

    Quote Originally Posted by mrivers09 View Post
    just ask someone close to you and ask them to answer honestly...
    Might not be your best example.

    I was going over some questions for interviews, and I was hoping someone could help me with an answer. What are good answers for the question; what are your strengths and weaknesses? What are some bad answers? ó John

    Reply: Letís start with what your answers are first.

    O.K. If asked those questions I would probably respond with something like; My strengths are education, willingness to start from the bottom, my diverse background in fields other than fire fighting, and the fact that I have experience but am very adaptable to my current surroundings. My weaknesses are occasional tunnel vision, excitability, and no full-time experience. There are probably a thousand faults but you get the point. Where do I go from here? John

    First understand that if we start giving answers, everyone would clone them and they would lose their value. I encourage candidates do use their own answers, reflecting their personal life experience.

    This question can be asked in many ways, i.e.: What attributes do you think a firefighter should possess, or what qualities, what strengths etc. I think you can come up with better strengths. Education, starting at the bottom and a diverse background are not really strengths. They are what youíve done to prepare for the position. Areas relating to loyalty, honesty, and being dependable etc. are strengths.

    When youíre deciding a weakness, use something that might have been a weakness, but you have already done something to correct it i.e., you had a problem speaking in front of groups. You have improved this situation by taking a public speaking class or joining Toastmasters.

    Since firefighters are in a living environment, we would not be looking for someone with occasional tunnel vision and excitability. No full-time experience is probably not a good choice for a weakness either.

    Got a call from a candidate. He lives in Washington now and his oral was in 4 days. He got his Firefighter1 from an academy in Southern California. He said it hasnít helped much trying to get a job. He has now been a medic for 8 months with no luck in testing. In the most pathetic monotone voice he said this is the department he really wants to work for and (with absolutely no enthusiasm) he will be one of the 15 hired.

    He asked if he could run one of his answers on what a negative is for him that his firefighter buddies and other friends helped him work out. Sure, shoot. Joel said a negative for me is my past. Even though I got a DUI and some other minor stuff, thatís not who I really am.

    I couldnít believe my ears. Uh, Joel that answer would only open a can of worms. Donít use it.

    Joel said, OK how about this one. Another negative for me is my paramedic skills. This job will help me improve them. Again, I couldnít believe my ears. Yep, thatís the guy we want to hire, the one with the poor medic skills. Canít use this one either.

    As already mentioned, everyone becomes an expert when they get hired. The answers Joel worked out with some firefighters and friends were definitely not helping but hurting him. The bigger problem is he didnít even have a clue. This was just one answer. How bad were the others?

    I would like to say this was an isolated incident. We encounter these bad answers on a regular basis. It is especially painful in an actual oral board where we see the candidates die a slow death one question after another. Then the candidates wonder why they donít get hired. This is an area where we try to keep candidates from stepping on the land mines.

    After a little probing, we did find a negative Joel could use that he was working on to improve.
    ______________________________ _______________

    "Nothing counts 'til you have the badge . . . Nothing!"

    Fire "Captain Bob"

    www.eatstress.com

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    Bob,
    I have read your post several times and I still do not know what YOUR answer would be.

    As one who frequently sits as an oral board rater, I would have been left with big fat zero next to this question. You did a great job of telling candidates what NOT to say, but you failed to answer the question.

    As you know, the first rule in ANY interview is to ANSWER THE QUESTION!
    Paul Lepore
    Battalion Chief
    www.aspiringfirefighters.com

  8. #8
    Forum Member coachleather's Avatar
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    Default Biggest weakness

    having had that exact question asked to me several times, and having used Bob's program, BC's program and every other one under the sun, you and I both know there are 100 ways to answer that question. First off, in any oral board, no one really wants to hear a candidate say something bad about themselves I think everyone can agree on that. They are giving you 20minutes to sell yourself and why would anyone sell themselves as anything other than great. So in this answer you need to find, something that you have improved on (or used to be a weakness, but is now a strength) or actually look at one of your strengths that not too many people can see because it is one of your deeper layers. And work on that for an answer. EX: I worked with a guy who was quiet. Some would say that is a weakness but we turned it around as a strength. He described himself as a thinker who thinks before he acts, (IE he is safe and doesn't do anything rash) also he described himself as one who listens well to others and doesn't always force his opinion on others, and some would see that as quiet, again all positive things in actuality. This actually ended up being one of his best answers. So find something positive to use as the base for your answer, then go from there. Hope this helps
    Last edited by coachleather; 01-29-2009 at 12:05 AM.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by BigBLV82 View Post
    Your answer to this question should ALWAYS be something that can still shed a positive light on you.
    Great answer, although I haven't snag the brass ring of a position yet when this question comes up in an oral board I usually nail it with the same line of thinking. I always am prepared with a few options to go with prior to my interview but pick something that you have struggled with and tell them how you have improved upon it or are improving on it. Example..on one oral board I mentioned that I was a horrible in reading comprehension but I enrolled in college, taking college level courses this put me in an environment to challenge myself and improve which I was successful in as reflected by my transcripts (i had a copy and asked if they would like to see it during this question) and by the fact that I was successful on thier written exam to get me to the interview. It's really not that hard once you look at yourself and know what you personally work on, you'll be able to think of something fast. Don't be scared to tell them something that might sound bad but only if you can turn it into a positive. Remember they want an assertive person who is not gonna wait for somelse to tell you what to do, if you have a weakness fix it. This is just my opinion and from my own experience..I know others have other methods but this has worked for me. Good Luck

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