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  1. #1
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    Default Asking Questions in the interview

    I am getting prepared for an interview and one of the guys helping me told me to ask the interview panel questions at the end of the interview.
    What are your guys thoughts on this, I can see where it could help but I see it backfiring more than helping.
    Thanks, Lane


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    Forum Member JayDudley's Avatar
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    There several ways to go about it.....I recommend you say nothing and thank them for their time. If you do ask ANY questions please think about it before you do. The panel is on a time frame and if you delay them with inane questions your points will go down.
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    Permanently Removed CALFFBOU's Avatar
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    I would NOT ask questions just for the sake of asking questions.

    If you have a legitimate question to ask, the go ahead. Please keep in mind some departments bring in people from other agencies and they may not have any information about the agency you are interviewing for.

    Don't make busy work for the oral board. If you have a real question, ask it. Otherwise don't waste their time and yours.
    Last edited by CALFFBOU; 07-29-2009 at 12:16 PM.

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    In each interview I've taken I was given the opportunity to ask questions. Asking questions shows a genuine interest in the organization...if the question is in fact geniune. I suggest researching the organization and asking a general question about something you have learned about the organization (ex. I saw that the Department went for the S.A.F.E.R. Grant, any word on that?) Questions regarding pay, vacation, or sick time is probably not the best idea.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FireResQ24 View Post
    In each interview I've taken I was given the opportunity to ask questions. Asking questions shows a genuine interest in the organization...if the question is in fact geniune. I suggest researching the organization and asking a general question about something you have learned about the organization (ex. I saw that the Department went for the S.A.F.E.R. Grant, any word on that?) Questions regarding pay, vacation, or sick time is probably not the best idea.
    I'm not convinced why a snott nose rookie candidate should be asking a panel about any work on their a S.A.F.E.R. Grant or any other policy or political activites with the agency? You're not running the interview and this is not a regular business or corporate interview. I've seen candidates try pulling this off trying to impress the panel. They do but not in a way they expected. The Firefighter interview is like no other.

    I agree with those posters above about keeping quiet. Here's why:

    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.

    I asked a class of fire candidates, "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.
    Last edited by CaptBob; 07-29-2009 at 05:44 PM.
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    Questions I have asked at a few interviews:

    1. What is the job security like? (why leave one job you may not like for one that may be going away???)

    2. What is the overall Moral of the department? (Progressive folks who give a crap, or old farts who should have retired 10 years ago when they were eligible. **Get Ready for this** A good Chief will tell you!!!)

    3. What type of training is available so that I can better myself at the job? (Shows that you are eager to learn, and potentially take on additional responsibility)

    The good thing about those questions: they can be applied to almost any job, not just firefighting!!

    There are other's that I make sure to ask based upon the company/organization. (Read/Learn about where you are applying and ask a question or two to show that you have obtained a little background into what the organization is about)

    IMO, if a panel asks a candidate if they have any questions, they expect questions to be asked!!
    Last edited by JTFIRE80; 07-29-2009 at 06:26 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JTFIRE80 View Post
    IMO, if a panel asks a candidate if they have any questions, they expect questions to be asked!!
    No they're not. That question has usually been brought in by the PC HR department. We're actually surprised when someone doesn't understand the culture enough that they start firing off questions when we are trying to wrap up the interview. Often the panel members are from different departments and probably won't have the answers you're asking anyway.

    BTW there is usually no score for this question.

    You're looking for a seamless no surprises interview. Throwing out questions when we really don't expect them, they will not be scored only increases your chances on not ending on a good foot. A simple brief pause, then, no I think we've covered everything is all that is needed here.

    "Captain Bob" www.eatstress.com
    Last edited by CaptBob; 07-29-2009 at 08:21 PM.

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    Default no score

    I beg to disagree with Captain Bob on this. You have a total overall score when you total up the numbers. If a ridiculous question is asked and we all look at each other in amazement yes I would dock him/her a few points for being stupid. If they ask an honest question then no I would not dock points. With that said some of the questions brought up by JTfire80 may be out of the scope of the panels' expertise.
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    you mind as give up trying to get it into their heads capt. bob i believe you and i am a full hearted member of your program.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JTFIRE80 View Post
    Questions I have asked at a few interviews:

    1. What is the job security like? (why leave one job you may not like for one that may be going away???) With today's economic climate, nothing is very solid, especially the entry level area.

    2. What is the overall Moral of the department? (Progressive folks who give a crap, or old farts who should have retired 10 years ago when they were eligible. **Get Ready for this** A good Chief will tell you!!!) And you're going to be the one to turn it all around as a probie?

    3. What type of training is available so that I can better myself at the job? (Shows that you are eager to learn, and potentially take on additional responsibility) Be happy with the initial training you will receive. More training will be made available to you after that. You're not going to change the job right away.

    The good thing about those questions: they can be applied to almost any job, not just firefighting!! And that's just it, these are more appropriate for a corporate job type interview.

    There are other's that I make sure to ask based upon the company/organization. (Read/Learn about where you are applying and ask a question or two to show that you have obtained a little background into what the organization is about)

    IMO, if a panel asks a candidate if they have any questions, they expect questions to be asked!!
    IMO, these questions are moot if you've done your homework and researched the department already. Perhaps even done a ridealong if it's allowed. All the answers to your questions you've pointed out here can be found out without wasting the board's time (and possibly lowering your points).

    Just because you're asked if you have any questions doesn't mean you are obliged to ask one. Thank the panel for their time, tell them that you would really like the job and make your exit.

    Mind you, I'm not trying to flame you JT, just my opinion.
    Last edited by ffbam24; 07-30-2009 at 04:31 PM.

  11. #11
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    Default ??

    FFbam24 has the right approach. If you ask inane questions like the following I've personally heard:
    1. Is it true you only work 10 days a month?
    2. Do I have to live in the city if my second job is where I live now?
    3. How long do I have to wait before I can take the test for promotion?
    4. If I have proir experience can I start out at a higher pay grade?
    Now if YOU were a grader on an entrance exam and were asked THESE questions....would YOU mark them down? I think even Captain Bob would think twice before putting down those final numbers.
    Respectfully,
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    Quote Originally Posted by ffbam24 View Post
    IMO, these questions are moot if you've done your homework and researched the department already. Perhaps even done a ridealong if it's allowed. All the answers to your questions you've pointed out here can be found out without wasting the board's time (and possibly lowering your points).

    Just because you're asked if you have any questions doesn't mean you are obliged to ask one. Thank the panel for their time, tell them that you would really like the job and make your exit.

    Mind you, I'm not trying to flame you JT, just my opinion.
    The only part of your post that I disagree with is...

    Those questions are not even CLOSE to appropriate for a corporate level job.

    Otherwise, right on the money.
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    Forum Member Jonnee's Avatar
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    Having been on both sides of an interview, I have never asked any questions of my interviewers. I have had folks try to ask questions when I was an interviewer but we had to cut them off as we had to tally up scores and get ready for the next person.

    Best policy, dont ask them questions, unless they ask you if you have any questions. Then keep it short and don't ask if your wife or kids are allowed to come by to see you when you are on duty or do you get to sleep while on duty at the fire house.

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    Every interview I have asked a few questions about the department, usually in regards to family life and why them over others since I was in the interview stage at various departments. All questions were answered nicely and created a tiny bit of a dialog. I received offers from every department that I interviewed with. I have run into guys from the interviews during mutual aid incidents and just around town, would not yet call them friends really, but very nice friendly acquaintances.

    You need to feel out the situation. If folks have told you in the past that you have great people skills and it feels right to do, then go ahead and ask. If no one has ever said you have good people skills, just bite your lip and say "Thank you for your time, I hope to see you in the fire house", do an about face and walk out of the room.
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    Your goal as a candidate is to prove to the panel that you have prepared and are ready to step into the position today. Any questions that you may have should have been vetted by doing your research about the department, city or county and while visiting the fire stations.
    Questions such as: How many people are you planning to hire, or when will get my results are a waste of the panelís time.

    Prepare for the interview and do not ask any questions when you are finished.

    Good luck to you,

    Paul Lepore
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    www.aspiringfirefighters.com

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    Quote Originally Posted by paulLepore View Post
    Your goal as a candidate is to prove to the panel that you have prepared and are ready to step into the position today. Any questions that you may have should have been vetted by doing your research about the department, city or county and while visiting the fire stations.
    Questions such as: How many people are you planning to hire, or when will get my results are a waste of the panelís time.

    Prepare for the interview and do not ask any questions when you are finished.

    Good luck to you,

    Paul Lepore
    Battalion Chief
    www.aspiringfirefighters.com

    Paul - First I wanna add that I just bought your book "Smoke Your Firefighter Interview." It's a great source for preparation and would like to thank you for putting it together.

    Would you find it appropriate to respond "No thank you. I've already done the necessary research on this department once I knew I wanted to be apart of it...." blah blah blah, something along those lines to show the panel that you're really interested and have for a fact researched every nook and cranny?

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    Quote Originally Posted by ncoliva1200 View Post
    Paul - First I wanna add that I just bought your book "Smoke Your Firefighter Interview." It's a great source for preparation and would like to thank you for putting it together.

    Would you find it appropriate to respond "No thank you. I've already done the necessary research on this department once I knew I wanted to be apart of it...." blah blah blah, something along those lines to show the panel that you're really interested and have for a fact researched every nook and cranny?
    Great book. Helped me a lot.

    Next, that reply would kind of rub me the wrong way as a rater. It kind of comes across as stuck up to me.

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    Bam,
    Thanks for the positive words about my book. I am glad you found it helpful.

    NColiva,
    I absolutely agree with your answer. It shows that you have done your research and that you are impressed with the department. In essence, you are complimenting them on their department and that you would be proud to be a part of it. The raters hold the keys to the car. They get to decide who they are going to let in to the organization. Most of us are very proud to be a firefighter and to work for our department (we all have things we would like to improve).

    We are looking for people who will hold the badge in as high of regard as we do. It's not just a job to us, it's much more. We can hire anyone we choose. Often times it's not the person with the biggest resume who gets hired. It's the one with a great attitude that you want to have on your crew.

    We are going to train you to do things our way. The numbers show that we can train 60 - 100% of the people we hire to be firefighters (these are the people who complete our academy and the probationary period). We cannot train you to have a good attitude and to get along with others. You should have already learned this.

    Paul Lepore
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    WWW.aspiringfirefighters.com

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    Hey guys thanks for all of your input so far! It has helped me a lot.

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