1. #1
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    Default Standing out in the Interview!?!

    Hey yall, i just wanted to start a thread and get as much advice as i possibly can for an upcoming interview that i have. This is going to be my first fire interview and it is for a department that i would absolutely love to get on. Any suggestions no matter how big or small would be greatly appreciated! Thanks everyone.

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    Ummmm, I don't have time to answer this right now, but....

    You might want to look around the site a little. There are about a zillion skillion threads on this exact topic.

    Please understand, I am not blowing you off. I have posted lots of stuff on this subject in the past. I just don't have time to do this, now. I wanted to give you something to look for in the meanwhile.
    PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

  3. #3
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    Default The Best Oral Board Secret!

    From a previous Firehouse.com article:
    http://cms.firehouse.com/web/online/...Secret/8$50155

    Many applicants like you tell me they want this job so bad they will do almost anything ethically and morally to get it. Many are not using a simple tool that could tilt things in their favor.

    A recent candidate had such a monotone voice I asked if he knew? He said yea, but thatís just my voice. I told him I didnít believe that for a second. What can I do about it? Iíve been testing where I can for four years, going to school and work as a federal firefighter.

    Trying to get on his turf, I asked him during his coaching session what do you do with your time off? What are your interest, hobbies? What really rings your bell? Nothing seemed to work to break his monotone voice.

    That was until a few days later I get a call from an energized candidate. I didnít recognize the voice. Yes, it was Mr. Monotone. He told me he didnít realize how bad it was until he listened to the tape recording of his coaching session. He said, ďMan I sounded retarded. I canít believe how much stuff I left out. How many times I said ďWhat EverĒ and other stupid pause fillers I didnít know I was using." The mystery of why this super qualified candidate could not get hired was solved by listening to a tape of what the panel had been hearing for four years.

    So, what tools can you use to practice and rehearse your oral board answers? A video camera? Sure. You need to see how you look in action. But you are trapped with a video camera. Mirror? Sure standing in front of a mirror is good. But you are missing the most valuable tool of all. A hand-held tape recorder. The closest distance between you and the badge is picking up a tape recorder and hearing what's coming out of your mouth like Mr. Monotone!

    I received a call from another candidate. He has made it to a few oral boards and one Chief's Oral without success. He has been invited to the LA City oral board. In just a few moments I was aware of something critical. Then I asked him if he was using a tape recorder to practice? He hemmed and hawed and finally said, ďWell, no. But, I'm thinking about it.Ē

    His answers were garbage. It doesnít surprise me. Ninety-nine percent of the candidates I talk to arenít using a tape recorder either. Be advised that your competition knows the value of using a tape recorder. They are catapulting past you if you're not using one too.

    Many applicants want this job so bad they will do almost anything ethically and morally to get it. I guess that doesn't include using a tape recorder to get your timing, inflection, volume, where to cut out material, get rid of the uh's and other pause fillers, or to find out if you really sound like Donald Duck. You need to get married to your hand-held tape recorder. You need to hear what the oral board is going to hear out of your mouth. It's narrows the distance between you and the badge you're looking for!

    What is the first thing a candidate says when he hears his voice on a tape recorder? Yep. That's not me. Yes, it is McFly. You need to get married to a hand held tape recorder and practice everywhere you go.

    This is usually a guy thing. Guys think about their answers in their head and write them down. Then they think their answers are going to come out of their mouths like magic in the oral. Trust me, they don't! The brain and mouth don't work that way.

    Try this. Take 3X5 cards and write down your oral board questions. You can find our 30 Sample Oral Board Questions here http://eatstress.com/thirty22.htm Practice your answers with the tape recorder. If you hear something you do not like when you play it back, turn over the 3X5 card and write it down. The next time you go after that question, turn over the card first and see what you don't want to say.

    Some will say, ďWell, if I practice it too much it will sound canned.Ē NO it won't! It sure will be planned though. Practice makes permanent. ďLuck is preparation meeting opportunity.Ē One practice session with a tape recorder is worth 10 speaking out louds. After practicing, you will get to a point where your answers will get into your subconscious. That's where the magic begins. You can't be fooled.
    ______________________________ _______________

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

    Fire "Captain Bob"

    www.eatstress.com

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    wf, I do have time to tell you one thing.

    DO NOT BUY ANY BOOKS, CD's, DVD'S, TAPES OR ANYTHING ELSE to fulfill your dream. You have the ability to do this yourself. Save your money.
    PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

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    CaptBob and GeorgeWendtCFI, i greatly appreciate the advice. I definitely know what your talking about George, i talked to one of the men who is on the department that i am trying to get on and he stressed the importance of just being yourself. I dont want to go in there and BS my way to a job, i want them to want me for who i am. Thanks again.

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    For me, one of the best things I've done to see success in interviews is to...

    bomb my first one.

    Yessir. I prepared SO much that I made it into something bigger than it was. I was visibly nervous and I tried to make the questions I was asked fit the answers I developed before-hand. I was completely unprepared for questions I hadn't heard in mock-orals, on the internet, etc. I had little more than the minimum qualifications, as well. My next interview with a different department was completely different. I was calm, composed and far more able to think on my feet in response to questions. 3/4 of the guys in the waiting room looked like me at my first interview: nervous, scared, etc. I assume that made me stand out. Getting an AS in Fire Science, being physically prepared, packing certs and community service commendations helped boost my confidence too. Having interviewed once before allowed me to be myself and the panel seemed to respond to that. Every interview I've been through has been better than the last, and now I'm waiting to schedule my medical exam with my dream department. (woohooo!)

    You need to be in control, but respect the structure of the interview and don't interrupt anyone. You're also being tested on your ability to listen and follow instructions here. When you're finished answering your question, make sure it's obvious that you're finished. If you think of something to add, say it in your closing statement when they ask you if you have any questions.

    I don't know what qualifications you have but don't be terribly disappointed if you don't get on this time around. Very few people do. It'll just give you more time to build your resume and gain experience so you can knock the next one out of the park.

    That said, GOOD LUCK! Definitely read through these forums. There are pages and pages of information here that will help you.
    Last edited by SansMustache; 09-29-2008 at 09:48 PM.

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    Just remember, the board has been hearing the same questions, with the same answers for 100's of candidates.

    its up to you to figure out how to distinguish yourself

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    I have sat as a rater for literally hundreds of entry-level and promotional interviews. I can tell you, that in my experience, most people are terribly unprepared. Once a candidate figures out what we are looking for, he or she always scores well on the interview.

    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 meÖ..

    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 donít 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 doesnít hurt that they are sitting up high on several other hiring lists and know they will be hired. Itís 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.
    Paul Lepore
    Battalion Chief
    www.aspiringfirefighters.com
    Paul Lepore
    Battalion Chief
    www.aspiringfirefighters.com

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    Thank yall very much for the advice, it is very helpful. What about situational vending machine that your captain said not to touch? What are you gonna do about it? Questions along these lines, i know that they are looking to see if you can resolve an issue and then make your way up the chain of command but also am looking for any advice on these types of questions. Thanks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SansMustache View Post
    For me, one of the best things I've done to see success in interviews is to...

    bomb my first one.

    Pretty much spot on. I totally sucked at interviews in the begining. Over time, practice and experience, I finally made it to #1 (tied) out of a couple thousand applicants.

    Just like the charactor "Sherman" said in the American Pie movie- "It was just my time gentlemen, just my time." (Love that line, probably see it used again here)

    Start out and just keep practicing. Live life and do a good job at your PCF/vollie job. The more life experiences you have, the more the "signature stories" come out in the interview. And believe me, they just come out of your mouth when youre on a roll.

    Listen to the other advice here. Pre-think some things in youre mind. As Capt. Bob says, do not try to be funny. If you do accidently say something cute and the board laughs, it was a gift. And thats exactly what happened to me once too.

    Anyways- run the basics through your head- What have you done to prepare, Tell us about yourself, Saw someone steal, etc...

    Good luck!
    Last edited by CALFFBOU; 10-01-2008 at 01:18 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ticonderoga View Post
    Just remember, the board has been hearing the same questions, with the same answers for 100's of candidates.

    its up to you to figure out how to distinguish yourself
    Ticonderoga is right.

    Are you unique or just along for the ride?

    A candidate posted a question on a bulletin board asking the best way to approach the common scenario of being given an order on an emergency scene that puts my life, or others in jeopardy that may also go against standard operating procedures.

    Someone posted and answer that looked like it came right out of one of the books out there with question and suggested answers. Turns out it was word for word from one of those books!

    My reply: . . . . Too many will use these suggested answers word for word like someone posted here. If I picked this right up so can other panel members.

    Panel members can often tell by the 2nd or third question where the candidate got their answers. A fire academy (where they practice using 3 X 5 cards), college classes, medic school, a book or a CDís. It makes the candidate look and sound like a clone of too many others. We experience this talking to a lot of candidateís daily and during one on one coaching.

    So itís your second day of 8 days of oral interviews as a panel member. Youíre hearing too many candidates with the same answers, sameness, identical answers word for word complete with pauses from the CDís. You wonder who really owns the information and experience. It can be mind numbing for panel members.

    One candidate just told me after taking 11 tests and not getting hired that he felt this type of one size fits all format of using suggested answers was like reading a personal diary. He said he read this and our web site3 weeks ago and changed to being more personable, more of who he is and feels unique, fresh or spontaneous. His first interview since he switched heís made it into the hiring process.

    Hereís Captain Robís take:

    Let me put it to you this way. If you read a book that gives you the answers, you are not going to sound like you. You will sound like the person that wrote the book. Not only that, but because you didnít come up with the answer on your own, what if they ask you to explain you reasoning in doing what you did? You donít know because it wasnít your answer.

    Another problem could be that if you are quoting answers from a book you read or a person who taught a class, others may be quoting it also. What if you are in the oral interview for you dream department, the one you have waited for your whole life, and after your second response they stop you. They tell you that it is funny but the three people before you have answered every question word for word the same as you, and they want to know if they are going to get to hear your answers or should they just give you the score they gave to others?

    I would sure want to be giving my own original answers and not something someone else gave me as their answer. If you can find a way to come up with your own answers it will also help you if they ask questions that you have never heard before. Because you will have figured out how to come up with your own answers, not look up answers.
    ______________________________ _______________

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

    Fire "Captain Bob"

    www.eatstress.com

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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptBob View Post
    Ticonderoga is right.

    Are you unique or just along for the ride?

    A candidate posted a question on a bulletin board asking the best way to approach the common scenario of being given an order on an emergency scene that puts my life, or others in jeopardy that may also go against standard operating procedures.

    Someone posted and answer that looked like it came right out of one of the books out there with question and suggested answers. Turns out it was word for word from one of those books!

    My reply: . . . . Too many will use these suggested answers word for word like someone posted here. If I picked this right up so can other panel members.

    Panel members can often tell by the 2nd or third question where the candidate got their answers. A fire academy (where they practice using 3 X 5 cards), college classes, medic school, a book or a CDís. It makes the candidate look and sound like a clone of too many others. We experience this talking to a lot of candidateís daily and during one on one coaching.

    So itís your second day of 8 days of oral interviews as a panel member. Youíre hearing too many candidates with the same answers, sameness, identical answers word for word complete with pauses from the CDís. You wonder who really owns the information and experience. It can be mind numbing for panel members.

    One candidate just told me after taking 11 tests and not getting hired that he felt this type of one size fits all format of using suggested answers was like reading a personal diary. He said he read this and our web site3 weeks ago and changed to being more personable, more of who he is and feels unique, fresh or spontaneous. His first interview since he switched heís made it into the hiring process.

    Hereís Captain Robís take:

    Let me put it to you this way. If you read a book that gives you the answers, you are not going to sound like you. You will sound like the person that wrote the book. Not only that, but because you didnít come up with the answer on your own, what if they ask you to explain you reasoning in doing what you did? You donít know because it wasnít your answer.

    Another problem could be that if you are quoting answers from a book you read or a person who taught a class, others may be quoting it also. What if you are in the oral interview for you dream department, the one you have waited for your whole life, and after your second response they stop you. They tell you that it is funny but the three people before you have answered every question word for word the same as you, and they want to know if they are going to get to hear your answers or should they just give you the score they gave to others?

    I would sure want to be giving my own original answers and not something someone else gave me as their answer. If you can find a way to come up with your own answers it will also help you if they ask questions that you have never heard before. Because you will have figured out how to come up with your own answers, not look up answers.
    Here's Fire Investigator George's take;

    SPAM!
    PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

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    Default Interview

    When I was being interview for the Firefighters position I went in with a Mickey Mouse on my tie. It broke them up and loosened up the interview. It got to the point when the person from Civil Service had to say...."OK let's move on". The poster CALFFBOU had mentioned it and if it happens...go with it.
    Just remember....practice...practice...and above all be calm. I know this will be hard but there is a light at the end of your tunnel to get your badge.
    Last edited by JayDudley; 10-02-2008 at 02:17 PM.
    Respectfully,
    Jay Dudley
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    My advice is stick with the Basics:

    - Research your prospective dept.
    - If they offer mock orals, take as many as they will let you
    - Visit their stations and ask questions you cannot find answers elsewhere
    - Apply life/work experience with how that will make you a great FF
    - Be confident, not cocky

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