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  1. #1
    Forum Member Surtur's Avatar
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    Question Questions to Ask at the End of an Interview

    When a traditional interview is about to finish, I'm usually asked by the interviewer if I have any questions. What can ask at the close of a Chief's Interview with a fire department to end it on a positive note? I'm really stumped on this one and need some advice because I want to have some excellent questions. Also, how many questions should I ask?


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    Quote Originally Posted by Surtur View Post
    When a traditional interview is about to finish, I'm usually asked by the interviewer if I have any questions. What can ask at the close of a Chief's Interview with a fire department to end it on a positive note? I'm really stumped on this one and need some advice because I want to have some excellent questions. Also, how many questions should I ask?
    How about none.

    This can either be questions your want to ask the panel or an opportunity for a closing statement.

    Asking the Panel Questions?

    Candidates have been told by others that you always have to ask a question, if you're given the opportunity at the end of an interview, or you will lose points. Not True in a fire oral! In a regular or corporate interview that might be true. But not here. You never, ever, ever, have a question. We don't expect you to have any questions. I had a guy one day ask, "Since I live so far away, can I start at second step pay to help pay for my gas?"

    If that question is asked (here's the "Nugget") you can pause as if your gathering your thoughts and then say, "No, I think we covered everything." We had another candidate say, "You have probably heard about the charges against me for stealing over at the college?" No, we haven't, why don't you tell us about it.

    Here was another candidate who have done an outstanding job in his oral and he had to bring this up. His score dropped like a wounded seagull. This is not the time to bring up anything like this. You never bring up a negative item unless the panel does. They probably won't. It they do, have a simple, short (I said simple and short) answer to the situation.

    Closing Statement

    I asked a class of fire candidates last week, "What do you want to say if you're given the opportunity to give a closing statement at the end of your oral?" On candidate said, "I would ask them if they saw any reason why I wouldn't get the job." I asked why would you say that? Because that's what you would ask in a corporate interview. Good point. But, understand this is not, repeat, is not a corporate or regular interview. This is a semi-military organization. I told the class I would never, ever ask this question. Hum, do I see any reason why this candidate wouldn't get this job? I do now with that question.

    The closing and the opening question tell us a little about yourself aren't usually scored. But if you say something good or bad in your closing it could cause the panel to go back to a section that is scored and change it.

    There are those who would tell you to raise the flag and beat the drum with a lot of fanfare in your closing statement. Please spare us this part. Understand, if you haven't done it in the body of your oral presentation, you're not going to make it up in the closing. REPEATING, IF YOU HAVEN'T DONE IT IN THE BODY OF YOUR ORAL PRESENTATION, YOU'RE NOT GOING TO MAKE IT UP IN THE CLOSING! We had a candidate who tried to show us all his certificates during his closing. McFly?

    If a candidate is asked only a few questions or the questions they are asked did not cover the great answers they had for: Why do you want to be a firefighter? What have you done to prepare for the position? Why do you want to work for this department or agency? Youíre missing out here by not taking advantage of a great opportunity to deliver one or more of those answers in a condensed matter to maximize your presentation to gain a few extra points.

    Don't forget that the closing part of an interview is where you call on the emotions of the interviewers to give you the job. Don't reiterate or try to do repair work. Use only the key points not already covered in your script. Without being boring or lengthily, tell the interviews why you really want the job and, with your qualifications, hope to be considered for the position.

    Then shut up and get out of the building. Or, you will say something stupid. We had a guy one day ace his oral. After his closing, he said, "Well, if I don't get this job I can always fall back on that part time painters job." The panel couldn't believe what this guy just said after acing his oral. Did it hurt his score? Enough to keep him from getting a shot at a badge. Last time I heard, he was still painting.
    Last edited by CaptBob; 08-11-2008 at 10:17 AM.
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    Forum Member JayDudley's Avatar
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    Default easy

    I'll make it easy....Simply tell them that you want to thank them for the interview and get up and shake their hands and leave. It is at this point when the are sooooo many who say the wrong thing and they leave with the interviewers scratching their heads.
    Respectfully,
    Jay Dudley
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    Forum Member SCSmith's Avatar
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    Default Bad Advise

    Hmmm, I've always heard that a well-thought-out question from a candidate can help set that person apart from crowd and end the interview on a high note. In the white collar world, job candidates are fully expected to ask good questions at the end of their interviews. I don't see why a firefighter interview would be any different. Obviously you don't want to say anything stupid like Capt Bob pointed out, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't ask anything at all.
    Until you've been on a Harley-Davidson, you haven't been on a motorcycle

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    Forum Member JayDudley's Avatar
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    Default Ask Away

    Mr. Smith....You asked a question and some of us who have been on the other side of the table have answered. If you think that there is something you wish to know or ask......ask away. Just make sure you've thought it out and do not say something that as you walk out the door say"Why the heck did I say that". It's your interview and you need to be satisfied with what you did.

    Good Luck!!

    Respectfully,
    Jay Dudley, Retired Fire
    Respectfully,
    Jay Dudley
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    The difference is that this is not a white collar interview. We interview 12-15 candidates each day. When I am finished interviewing you, I am ready to move on to the next candidate. I don't have time for questions. Moreover, I expect a candidate to have researched my department and have ALL of the answers.

    What would you propose to ask? Here are some of the questions I have been asked by candidates in the past:

    How many do we plan on hiring? Don't know we are establishing an eligibility list.....

    When will I hear something? Don't know, ask Civil Service, it's their exam.....

    What can I expect from the academy? You're kidding me right.

    I recently moved. Can I have the results of my interview sent to my dad's station? He works as a firefighter here for the city.....

    How did I do? - Well, you will have plenty of time to refine your interview skills. We will be testing again in two years.

    Do yourself a favor and don't ask any questions.

    Paul Lepore
    Battalion Chief
    www.aspiringfirefighters.com
    Last edited by BCLepore; 08-12-2008 at 12:26 PM.
    Paul Lepore
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    I am a big fan of the "run silent, run deep" method of interviewing. I wouldn't want "Remember that whacker who asked..." attached to my name.
    PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JayDudley View Post
    Mr. Smith....You asked a question and some of us who have been on the other side of the table have answered. If you think that there is something you wish to know or ask......ask away. Just make sure you've thought it out and do not say something that as you walk out the door say"Why the heck did I say that". It's your interview and you need to be satisfied with what you did. Good Luck!!
    Respectfully, Jay Dudley, Retired Fire
    Thatís why Jay is the commish.

    Hmmm, I've always heard that a well-thought-out question from a candidate can help set that person apart from crowd and end the interview on a high note.

    It might set you apart from the crowd but not in a way you expected or hoped for.

    The firefighter interview is like no other. It's not a regular, corporate interview.

    Candidates are free agents. If you know an answer probably will not be scored, why would you want to take the chance of opening a can of worms you might not be able to close by bringing up something that might make the raters go back and change a score in area where it can make a difference?

    "Captain Bob" www.eatstress.com

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    Forum Member DeputyChiefGonzo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeWendtCFI View Post
    I am a big fan of the "run silent, run deep" method of interviewing. I wouldn't want "Remember that whacker who asked..." attached to my name.
    Great advice.. and great movie!
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
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    Forum Member DennisTheMenace's Avatar
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    I asked the three departments I applied to, why them over the other. The Chief, Capt and FF in each group all made good points about their departmetn from their point of career. Must have been the right answer since everyone made me offers of employment......
    Be for Peace, but don't be for the Enemy!
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    Learn from the mistakes of others; you won't live long enough to make them all yourself.

    Quote Originally Posted by nyckftbl View Post
    LOL....dont you people have anything else to do besides b*tch about our b*tching?

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    Dennis,
    I respectfully disagree. I do not feel the need to sell my department over another. If a candidate isn't passionate to come to my department, I don't want him. It's his or her job to make me believe they are the right person for the job, not the other way around.

    We have 100 candidates to choose from for each opening. We don't feel the need to explain why they should choose us.

    Stay safe brother,
    Paul Lepore
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    MembersZone Subscriber ffbam24's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DennisTheMenace View Post
    I asked the three departments I applied to, why them over the other. The Chief, Capt and FF in each group all made good points about their departmetn from their point of career. Must have been the right answer since everyone made me offers of employment......
    So if I read this correctly, you asked them why you should work for them? That is definitely a different take. Congratulations on all three offers from those.

    On some rating sheets I've done, even after the scoring is tallied, there was still a box: Would this individual be a good fit for the department? Yes? No?
    If I was a rater and found a candidate asking me to justify why they should work for us, I would tend to lean towards the "No" box. Unless they were stellar and didn't come across as arrogant.

    Re: Topic
    I would hold off on asking any questions. A short closing statement asking for the job and thanking them for their time. Handshakes all around then walk (don't run) towards the door. I'd swear my ears may have popped with how quickly some candidates have left the room due to how nervous they were and bolted out the door.
    Last edited by ffbam24; 08-12-2008 at 03:29 PM.

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    I think the KISS rule applies here. Keep it simple stupid.

    Always thank them for their time and efforts and if you HAVE to say something, keep it short and sweet.

    Any questions you ask about the department may just show how poorly you've researched that department. Before I go into the oral, i find out everything there is to know whether it be from their website, other websites, articles and from calling the stations or visiting them to get answers I couldn't find elsewhere.

  14. #14
    Forum Member DennisTheMenace's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BCLepore View Post
    Dennis,
    I respectfully disagree. I do not feel the need to sell my department over another. If a candidate isn't passionate to come to my department, I don't want him. It's his or her job to make me believe they are the right person for the job, not the other way around.

    We have 100 candidates to choose from for each opening. We don't feel the need to explain why they should choose us.

    Stay safe brother,
    Paul Lepore
    Oh I showed my passion, but they are all great departments that all work together on mutual aid from time to time. I had worked with each in both career and volunteer capacities in one way or another as well. So I already sort of had a one up on the competition I guess. Having gone through the process, and seen what types of other guys make it through the process, and the fact that you and others encourage folks to apply to multiple departments, I would say it is imperative that folks on the board do sell their department to the top candidates that you interview if you really want the best and not just the above average.

    I will say one thing, being on a board is not something that I see myself ever volunteering for. I applaud the guys that do step up and keep a straight face and objectivie mind for 100 candidates a year, seems as tough a job as you can do in the fire service.
    Quote Originally Posted by ffbam24 View Post
    So if I read this correctly, you asked them why you should work for them? That is definitely a different take. Congratulations on all three offers from those.

    On some rating sheets I've done, even after the scoring is tallied, there was still a box: Would this individual be a good fit for the department? Yes? No?
    If I was a rater and found a candidate asking me to justify why they should work for us, I would tend to lean towards the "No" box. Unless they were stellar and didn't come across as arrogant.

    Re: Topic
    I would hold off on asking any questions. A short closing statement asking for the job and thanking them for their time. Handshakes all around then walk (don't run) towards the door. I'd swear my ears may have popped with how quickly some candidates have left the room due to how nervous they were and bolted out the door.
    I really don't think I was arrogant, just inquisitive. Should an 18 y/o right out of HS take the same tact? Maybe not. I was going at it as a 30something Marine veteran with a wife, kid, and one on the way, a bachelors degree, 10 years of real world experience, and a pile of fire certs, who needed to make sure that if presented with the option I would have the information to take the best road for my family. It was the only point in the process for any of the departments where I could ask non-recruiter types a candid question and get an answer from the three different levels of the department. The first interview went well enough that it inspired the board to discuss it among themselves, so I went for it with the others and it seemed to work. Of course I finished with thank you's, hand shakes and smiles all around.
    Last edited by DennisTheMenace; 08-12-2008 at 04:51 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by nyckftbl View Post
    LOL....dont you people have anything else to do besides b*tch about our b*tching?

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    Forum Member DennisTheMenace's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by emmex510 View Post
    I think the KISS rule applies here. Keep it simple stupid.

    Always thank them for their time and efforts and if you HAVE to say something, keep it short and sweet.

    Any questions you ask about the department may just show how poorly you've researched that department. Before I go into the oral, i find out everything there is to know whether it be from their website, other websites, articles and from calling the stations or visiting them to get answers I couldn't find elsewhere.
    I don't know, I worked with guys as a volunteer and professionally(in a non-firefighter role) and there were questions about benefits and the departments that were just more appropriate to be asked in the interview than if I was to ask at the firehouse. For one thing as a semi-outsider there is no way they would have been truely candid in that atmosphere, and like military recruiters, the fire department recruiters have a job to give the department the best face possible, truth or not so true. The board on the other hand is made up of line guys who are judgeing you and will be honest if they want you, blow you off if they don't. At least that was how I saw it, and how it worked in my case. Maybe my years in politics just made me a more personable guy than most!
    Be for Peace, but don't be for the Enemy!
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    Learn from the mistakes of others; you won't live long enough to make them all yourself.

    Quote Originally Posted by nyckftbl View Post
    LOL....dont you people have anything else to do besides b*tch about our b*tching?

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    Dennis,
    It sounds like you missed your calling. Maybe you should be a FD recruiter.

    You do make valid points, however, I do not see it as my job to do recruiting during or sfter the interview.

    In your case, it sounds like you were extremely qualified. The qualifications you mentioned are in the top 5% of any entry level candidate. Additionally, I am sure you took a good interview.

    The top candidates usually score well on every test they take. These are the same guys that get to choose what department they want to work for.....
    Paul Lepore
    Battalion Chief
    www.aspiringfirefighters.com

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    "Which way to the bathroom?"

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    Forum Member DennisTheMenace's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitllesmertz1 View Post
    "Which way to the bathroom?"
    Well I did have to ask the question AFTER one of the interviews.
    Be for Peace, but don't be for the Enemy!
    -Big Russ

    Learn from the mistakes of others; you won't live long enough to make them all yourself.

    Quote Originally Posted by nyckftbl View Post
    LOL....dont you people have anything else to do besides b*tch about our b*tching?

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    Forum Member Surtur's Avatar
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    I'm a little confused by the feedback here. Why do the Chief's ask if you have any questions at the end of an interview if they don't want you to ask one?

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    Default Think about it

    As Chief Lepore has stated....we are moving on to the next candidate. There is the question "Do you have any questions and would you like to add anything". You would be surprised at some of the responses. It would seem to me that as stated before all of your questions would be answered by another department or from you doing research on your own. Don't waste the interviewers time by asking them questions that they have no answers to.
    On the other side of the coin though......it's your interview and if would like to ask...ask away. I'm sure the person interviewed after you would not mind.
    He'll just move up on the list.
    Respectfully,
    Jay Dudley
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