I applied for a Department in Central California. I've taken my written, oral, and was just invited to the final Chief's Interview. I have about a month until my Chief's Interview. I have read some of the other posts about Chief's Interviews but I am looking for a little more information about what I can do to prepare.
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Thread: Chief's Interview Preparation
08-02-2011, 05:14 PM #1
- Join Date
- Feb 2009
Chief's Interview Preparation
Last edited by powerdef; 08-11-2011 at 09:14 AM.
08-19-2011, 04:23 PM #2
- Join Date
- Oct 2010
You need to be specific about what you would like to know. If you can tell us WHAT EXACTLY you want to know about the Chief's Oral...Maybe we can help you out.
Just to hopefully give you some direction:
1. Prep is mostly the same as for any other board.
2. Chief's boards make up depends on the department. (Panel, Chief only, etc.)
3. Whatever the make up of the board, your job is to resonate...Meaning you should aim to leave them feeling like:
You're a superstar in the making.
You'd be great to work with for the next 20 years.
You're highly motivated, hardworking, AND HUMBLE.
Best of Luck AND Preparation,
City of Las Vegas Fire & Rescue
gethiredbyfire.com & The Fire Jobs App
09-17-2011, 11:43 PM #3
- Join Date
- Mar 2003
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. His article is published as a chapter in Smoke Your Firefighter 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
• 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
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
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