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Thread: Chief interview

  1. #1
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    Default Chief interview

    I read the forum about the board interview but my husband is going through the process with a dept in IL. He passed the testing so the next step is a chief interview. How will this be different from the board interview? Maybe they are the same?

    Thanks!
    Kristina


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    The Chief's interview can be anything and everything. By the time he's made it this far, he's probably successfully completed his background investigation. The investigator will usually submit a report highlighting anything of interest. But at this point, they have basically endorsed him enough to where they are telling the Chief the ball is in his court now.

    The Chief may ask some questions about anything that stuck out in the background process and caught his interest. (i.e. I noticed you had a period where you received numerous moving citations for a few years and they suddenly stopped. What changes did you make for this to happen?) He'll also spend some time just getting to know you. You'll get a lot of the same questions like "why do you want to be a FF/work here? what have you done to prepare?"

    Although the Chief's oral will usually be a little more relaxed, don't be fooled. He still needs to use the same techniques to get through this interview.

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    ZZ- thanks so much thats exactly what we needed to know. Keeping fingers crossed!! He went to the testing and there was 225 that went through the testing. In the end it went down to 49 and he is somewhere in that 49. Next step is the chief interview.

    Thanks again!

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    If he's already been through backgrounds and he's got the chief's interview, he's probably in the top 5 or so, depending on how many they are planning to hire. They won't waste the Fire Chief's time with all 49 candidates.... only the top few they highly recommend. Tell him not to forgot the small things (clean fingernails, shave, brush your teeth, nice suit, handshake, etc.). Those little things can make the difference. This interview usually isn't "scored" like the oral board. The chief might make some notes, but usually he basically says "hire this guy" at that point based on how he feels about the candidate. It all depends on how their testing process guidances are written, but he is usually allowed to pick and choose from the top few he interviews.

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    I have my second of possibly three interviews with a department. This one coming up is with the Division Chiefs and is a little bit more personal than the one before when it was all situational questions. I currently work part time for a part-time/volunteer department but this interview is for a full time position with a different department. Should I stay away from mentioning the department that I work for now in this upcoming interview? I know that I am interviewing for a "snot nosed rookie" position and don't want to come across as a know-it-all.

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    Default Going for All the Marbles

    Kristina:

    Even though this is for all of the marbles, don’t panic now!

    As was mentioned above by the zzyyzx man, the chief’s interview is open to any type of questioning. They are really trying to find out more about you. How you’re going to be as a firefighter for the next 25+ years. Do you fit their culture? We like to hire candidates that are themselves on purpose in the interview. Someone who has a personality and is conversational. Is your hubby that person in an interview?

    Many candidates start to panic when they are notified that they are going to a Chief’s Oral. They think they have to reinvent themselves. Reinvent the wheel. WHOOAA! Understand what got you there. You are only going to the Chief’s Oral because of the great stuff you already used in the first oral.

    You’re riding the winning pony. Don’t switch ponies. You’re coming around the club house turn, you shoot out from the back of the pack, go to the whip, you’re on the winning pony, you’re friends and family are on their feet in the stands cheering you on and you ride her home for the badge.

    Too many candidates switch ponies because “They Said”. If you do not continue to use the good stuff that got you this far, you could drop out of the race. This is a new arena. Candidates who are going to the chief’s interview start talking to their friends. They convince them that they need to do something more. By the time of the interview, they’re a wreck. It’s not them going into the interview. A clone of someone else. The badges are often given to other candidates.

    Don't switch ponies!
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    Hoff... it sounds like you're familiar with CaptBob's program. Have your own nugget answers. You can reference a call or situation on your current PT dept once, maybe twice during the interview. Try and have other examples from your life available to pull from. If not, you'll sound like that girl from American Pie... "One time, at Band Camp..." when you start every answer with "one time, at ABC FD..."

    And of course, whatever you do, don't say anything negative about your current dept. The first thing that would go through my mind would be "what's this guy gonna say about me and my dept if we hire him?"

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    Zzyyzx, thanks for the good advice. Another question has come to my mind though. Would it sound ****y if I recited the departments mission statement that I am applying for in this interview? I would use it as part of my answer to the question, "What do you know about this department?" I am just not sure if it would impress them though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Hoff View Post
    Zzyyzx, Would it sound ****y if I recited the departments mission statement that I am applying for in this interview? I am just not sure if it would impress them though.
    Oh, it might impress them but now in a way you would want. Convince me how this would work in your favor?

    Please. I can't tell you how many times I've heard candidates think this was a unique way to impress the panel members. We had a guy during his interview start singing the department mission as part of his answer. We were speechless.
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    Ha! Well I guess I can scratch that idea. I wasn't planning on singing it though. It isn't a long mission statement and would have been used in the following context...Describe the district including the area it serves and the type of specialized services provided (i.e. water rescue, hazmat,...it is a small department) then go on to say that the department follows the mission statement... I guess what I thought it might do would be to show them my commitment and that I am able to memorize/learn. No Dice?

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Hoff View Post
    Ha! ... I guess what I thought it might do would be to show them my commitment and that I am able to memorize/learn. No Dice?
    D, you're starting to hullucinate.

    I understand what you're trying to do. This part is good:

    ...Describe the district including the area it serves and the type of specialized services provided (i.e. water rescue, hazmat,...it is a small department)

    Your choice but I think you're reaching here:

    then go on to say that the department follows the mission statement...

    Have you practiced this answer with a hand held voice recorder to hear what the chief will hear? Keep it simple.
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    If you incorporate the IDEALS contained in the mission statement into an answer, that might be acceptable. But definitely not regurgitate it. And I wouldn't throw it all in a single answer. My department has a few "key words" in our mission statement that wouldn't be common in an answer unless you are aware of the mission statement. When I would answer a question, once or twice in the interview I would seamlessly incorporate one of these words into an answer. It was just enough to let them know that I understood the mission statement, not just memorized it. And honestly, many of the board members may not even know the mission statement, esp if they are from another dept.

    then go on to say that the department follows the mission statement...

    Do any depts NOT follow their mission statement? (some may be more pomp and circumstance than others, but admin is going to view their mission statement as a pillar of their dept.).

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    Default Mission Statement

    I have seen it done during an interview a candidate recites the mission statement of the department they are trying to be hired. After the candidate left the room the panel was quite impressed. So it can work both ways...I would think that Captain Bob has a better spin on it thought.
    Respectfully,
    Jay Dudley
    Retired Fire
    Background Investigator
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    Thanks guys for all the info. Last we were told it was down from 225+ to 49 and he was some place in there. I suppose that could indicate that he is doing really well since he is set up for the chief interview. Thankyou for all the advice!
    Kristina

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    Kristina,
    Congratulations to your husband. He is certainly on the right track. Here is an article that a friend of mine wrote for one of my books. I think you will find it very helpful.
    Best of luck to both of you.
    The Chief’s Interview
    Alan Patalano is the Fire Chief for the Long Beach Fire Department in Southern California. He has agreed to share his thoughts and ideas on what he is looking for from a candidate during a chief’s interview.

    There are dozens of people around who will be glad to offer advice on how a
    candidate should perform during a Chief’s interview. They will tell you about the
    theory of interview questions, body language, dress and presentation. I don’t
    have expertise in any of those areas; instead, what I have is the experience
    of conducting Chief’s interviews from the perspective of a Chief Officer and
    from the perspective of sitting in the room after the interviews are completed
    and actually deciding which candidate gets a job offer.
    The Chief’s interview is far different from the structured oral interview that
    you may take during the initial testing phase. The initial interview usually asks
    every candidate the exact same questions, in the exact same order. This is
    done so that the exam is consistent for everyone. The Chief’s interview does
    not operate in this fashion. In the Chief’s interview I am free to ask questions
    of each candidate based on his or her resume, experience, education,
    background and responses to previous questions. I do not need to ask each
    candidate the same questions. This is an important point. My questions are
    based, in a large part, on your responses to prior questions.

    I evaluate your responses in several ways, including:
    1. How well do you communicate?
    2. Are your answers thought out?
    3. Are you confident?
    4. Are you truthful?

    Let’s look at each aspect:
    How well you communicate has a huge impact on your overall score. Your
    ability to utilize the spoken word to convey a message or make a point is the
    foundation of a great score. The first portion of good communication is listening.
    What do I mean? Simply stated, to develop a great answer you must know what question I am asking. It is not uncommon to stop a candidate a couple of minutes into a great answer because he or she is answering the wrong question! There are several reasons why this happens:

    • The candidate anticipates particular questions before arriving at the
    interview, classifies the question as one of his or her preconceived
    questions and provides the answer.

    • The candidate has a list of predetermined answers and utilizes the
    canned answer that is closest to the question I ask.

    • The candidate formulates a reply without listening to the complete
    question.

    • The candidate is nervous and gets off-track while answering.
    So before you can develop a great answer you should listen carefully to
    the question in its entirety. If you are unsure of what is being asked, then ask
    for the question to be repeated and/or clarified. This not only allows you to
    provide the best possible answer, but also shows that you are not afraid to
    speak up when needed to avoid mistakes (a good quality to have on the fire
    ground). But do not make it a habit to ask for every question to be repeated.
    This might only show that you are not attentive.

    Once you determine what the question is, make sure you take the time to
    formulate a great reply. Many times I no sooner finish the question before the
    candidate starts talking. I always think to myself, “I wonder if the candidate
    was listening when I was talking.”

    Tone of voice, volume and grammar all impact how I perceive your
    answer. An angry or aggressive tone makes me question how you may respond
    to the public during emergencies, especially when you are under stress. Low
    volume indicates a candidate may be timid or lack confidence.
    Poor grammar or slang makes me question your maturity. Remember that
    good communication is predicated on providing information in a format so
    that the listener (i.e. the interview panel) can understand it and not on the
    way you like to say it.

    Next I like to see that your answers are thought out, logical and realistic.
    Once I ask the question, you should be able to walk me through the sequence
    of events or the steps you would take. As an example, if the question asks about
    your education, your response shouldn’t start with high school, then discuss
    grade school, then a course you are currently taking and then your college
    experience. It should be presented in a logical sequence: grade school, high
    school, college and the current course. It is confusing to the interviewer when
    the answer is presented in a disorganized fashion and makes me wonder if
    everything you do is disorganized.

    Answers also have to be realistic. If asked a situational question about
    which task you would perform: 1) pull a hose line to a door, 2) hook to a
    hydrant, or 3) raise a ground ladder, the worst answer would be, “I would do
    them all because I am young and strong.” It’s not practical and shows a lack of
    understanding of the real world. On the fire ground we are faced with choices
    and every firefighter must be able to analyze facts and make decisions. I expect
    to see this same quality during the interview.

    Another big quality I look for during the interview is how you represent
    yourself. Do you appear confident? Are you sure of yourself? Your answers
    should reflect your confidence in your skills and abilities. An answer that is
    vague or noncommittal demonstrates a lack of confidence. The nature of our
    business makes confidence during emergencies a vital personal quality. Can
    you make a decision and then act on it? Needless to say, there is no crying
    during the interview!

    Finally, do not let me catch you telling a lie, stretching the truth or telling
    only half the story. I am willing to overlook past behavior (up to a point) if you
    have shown that you have changed that behavior. I won’t consider it past
    behavior if I find you to be dishonest or unwilling to share all of the facts
    during the interview. That is your current behavior and is unacceptable. It willProcess
    not matter to me if you can offer a good excuse for why you weren’t honest
    initially because I will already be looking for a better candidate. I cannot stress
    this enough. If I catch you in a lie you will not get a job offer today or for the
    life of the list, period.

    It is very important to understand that during the interview I am looking for
    candidates who will be able to work with my firefighters for 30 years. We can
    train you to pull hose, take a blood pressure and operate a hydraulic rescue
    tool. What we can’t train you to do is act in an honest, ethical manner or be
    professional or compassionate. You must have those traits “built-in” before
    you arrive for the first day of drill school, so I look for those qualities during
    the interview.

    Education shows that you can commit to a course of action and follow
    through until completion. Work history shows loyalty and commitment.
    Community activities show that you believe yourself to be part of something
    greater than just yourself, your family and friends. How you dress shows that
    you consider yourself important and respect the job and those who perform it.
    All of these things serve to assist me in “seeing” the real you. No single fact,
    statement, or resume line assures you a job offer. Instead it is a compilation
    of all of your various education, background, experiences and presentation
    that helps you to rise above the other candidates and secure a position.

    I have offered positions to candidates with years of firefighter experience
    and to those without any experience at all, to those with extensive education
    and to those with only a GED, to candidates with a list of certificates and to
    those who didn’t have a single piece of paper except what was required to
    apply. What they all had in common was desire, commitment, honesty, loyalty,
    compassion and a dedication to serving a greater good. If you possess these
    qualities and can demonstrate them to me during an interview, then there is a
    very good chance that within a year I will be shaking your hand and welcoming
    you as the newest member of my department.

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

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