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    Default Oral Board Help!

    Thank you sir. I appreciate the feedback.
    Last edited by PatsFan1186; 12-21-2011 at 12:31 AM.

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    Default Stories Get Badges

    You don't want to waste any opportunities!

    Who else can tell the story! Yes, a you can use that answer for that question after you practice it with a voice recorder.

    Don Hewitt, one of the pioneers of television news and the creator of CBS's "60 Minutes" said, “The key to my success is four words that every child in the world knows. Tell me a story. Learn how to tell a story and you will be a success.” It's the same with getting a firefighter badge!

    I’ve never used this answer and I wish I did on my previous oral boards, because I feel that it’s really the turning point for me of when I realized I wanted to be a fire fighter.

    I tell candidates just like the Tin Man in the Wizzard of Oz we aren't going to give you anything you don't already have, we will just show you where it is. You already had this story inside you. Then the light came on and you now know you can use it. Had you used this answer it could have made a difference in your last oral. This was just one question and answer. How many more could you use a personal life experience story that could make a difference?

    I heard from candidates all the time that say when they start answering with a recreation of a story that the panel has not heard before, the panel with look up, focus, put down their pens and are taken on the journey. Does this make a difference? Please say yes.

    This is real important. Since oral board scores are calculated in hundredths of points (82.15, 87.63, 90.87, etc), the goal is to keep building on a few hundredths of points here on this question, a few hundredths there on that answer, gaining a few more hundredths with their signature personalized life experience stories at the appropriate time, delivering the all powerful “Nugget” answers that no one else can tell, and pulling away from the parrot salvo dropping clones.

    Stories are more than facts. If you can recreate the excitement, emotion, the color and magic to relive the actual event, you will capture the interest and a top score on that question. A big part of getting this job is convincing the oral board that you can do the job before you get it. Stories are convincing and can demonstrate your experience, even if they’re not fire related.

    One reason stories work effectively is because they go directly to the brain and entertain. They do not require the mental processing of more formal nonfiction writing. Stories have heart and ring true.

    Be careful though in posting your signature stories on a bulletin board because they will be quickly "Cloned". Then the panel doesn't know who the story belongs to. A candidate when to a large city oral board. At the end of one of his answers one panel member said that's the 3rd time we've heard that same identical answer in the last 4 days. Do you want us to give you the same score we gave those candidates or try and give us another answer. That drove him into a private coaching session with our son Captain Rob.

    More oral board tips here: http://www.firehouse.com/forums/showthread.php?t=117336 (Interview Questions HELP!)
    Last edited by CaptBob; 12-20-2011 at 09:55 PM.
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    Bob,
    I actually sit on oral boards. I can tell you that I want FACTS, not stories!
    It's not a game, we are looking for competent people who will fit into our organization. This means those people who have a combination of experience, education, physical fitness and who can demonstrate a history fo responsibility.
    Last edited by paulLepore; 12-25-2011 at 11:22 AM.
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    Default

    Merry Christmas Paul.

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    Default

    For those of you who are trying to decide how to approach the interview, do yourself a favor and put yourself into the position of the person sitting on the other side of the table.

    The interviews cost us a great deal of money. I need to pay two officers overtime (time and one half) to sit on the panels. As a result we want to get our money's worth. In an eight hour day I figure we can schedule candidates every 30 minutes. This allows for a 20 minute interview and 10 minutes to score them. I also need to allow the interviewers time to refill their coffee cups and time for them to go to the bathroom (this explains why we are always late). If we are lucky we can schedule 15 per panel per day. Oh yeah, we also need to allow room for the raters to eat lunch!

    Since we usually interview over 100 candidates, the raters get really tired of hearing stories. Just like Dan Akroyd in the movie Dragnet says, "Just the facts maam."

    A good rule of thumb is that if we are not writing, you are not scoring points. If the rater puts the pen on the table, you are really not scoring any points.
    As I said above, we want the FACTS!!!! We are not interested in your signature story.

    Make sure your resume is PERFECT- we see this a a homework assignment that you had the chance to take to your friends to proofread. Any errors are magnified as this is an example of your work product. Along those lines, make sure your application is typed. Nothing says minor leager more than a handwritten application.

    Make sure you have answers to ALL of the basic questions - I mean answers that I can write down, not circular vanilla stories

    Make sure you answer my questions - this is what I am going to do and here is why I am going to do what I just said.

    Be passionate about why you want to work for the department and what YOU WILL BRING TO US.

    Lastly, we DO NOT OWE YOU THE OPPORTUNITY. We have hundreds of candidates from which to choose. Give us a compelling reason to choose you!
    It's not a game. If you do slide through and get hired and you have not done your due diligence (physical fitness, learning the job, and have the academic background), you will not make it through the academy. If you do not have a servant's mentality you will struggle to get through probation.

    I repeat - It's not a game!
    Last edited by paulLepore; 12-25-2011 at 11:36 AM.
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    I have to say - I have both of your books, and I appreciate aspects of both of them (Smoke Your Firefighter Interview, Smoke Your Written Exam, and Dr. Bob's Eat Stress Program - in no particular order). But regardless, to watch you go back and forth is AWESOME! What a treat! And I mean that sincerely.

    Both of you were instrumental in my journey to get hired, so I will take this opportunity to thank you both for the help you gave me in the hiring process (since I know both of you are paying attention). I start with Seattle Fire Department on February 1.

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    James,
    Congratulations on your success. Seattle is a great department. Remember, it's not a game. Keep your head down and your mouth shut. Make sure that in the one week before the academy begins you focus on being in TOP physical condition.

    The academy will not get you into shape, it will weed out those who are not already in shape.

    Now the real work begins. You have worked hard to get where you are today. Congratulations again!
    Paul Lepore
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    James:

    Welcome to the fire service. Thank you for your kind words.

    I would like to send you some tip for the academy and being a new rookie. Please e-mail me at robert.smith19@comcast.net
    ______________________________ _______________

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

    Fire "Captain Bob"

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    Quote Originally Posted by paulLepore View Post
    A good rule of thumb is that if we are not writing, you are not scoring points. If the rater puts the pen on the table, you are really not scoring any points.
    As I said above, we want the FACTS!!!! We are not interested in your signature story.
    Here is a fact; a personal story is a fact.

    The last person I coached to get a 100% and come out number one on the list told me last week the panel never wrote anything down. He said they put their pens down, and were listening as he described working up a fellow marine while he was calling in artillery fire because they were being shot at from across the Syrian boarder.

    Another guy was asked about ethnicity and was able to talk about having played professional basketball in Turkey, Germany, China and the Philippines were he worked and lived. That is a story, as well as a fact and leaves no doubt that he understands diversity.

    Some questions are fact based. Two plus two is always four. But there are hundreds, if not thousands of correct answers to questions like: “Why do you want to be a firefighter”?, “What is customer service?”, “How does ethnicity effect us in the fire service”?

    If I ask you what you have done to prepare for the job, I don’t need to hear what you learned frying burgers in high school. But if I ask you if you are able to handle the high stress of being a firefighter, there is no better way to demonstrate your ability than to tell me briefly about your having mastered high stress situations in your past. And that is a fact.

    This technique has been very effective, not just in a part of the west coast, but I’m talking about all parts of the U.S., Canada, Australia, with people testing for firefighter entry level, promotional as well as law enforcement.

    In fact, I talked with a guy last week that told me the panel would not proceed with his interview until he told them a story about a time he had been involved in a conflict at work, and he couldn’t think of any.
    Last edited by FFighterRob; 12-26-2011 at 05:37 PM.
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    Rob,
    I am speaking form FIRST HAND experience, not from what people who conduct the interviews (or people I coach) are telling me. Big difference here.

    I don't believe for one minute that the panel did not write anything down. Again, personal experience.

    The advice to make up storeis and that the interview process is a game is simply BAD advice. We do not want to hear stories.

    You should really coach people to be solid candidates and have them increase their marketability rather than trying to teach them how to beat the system. In the end they simply won't make it.

    I spent the last three days reviewing applications. I cannot tell you how many candidates I saw who failed out of the academy or washed out during probation. I can only wonder if they would have been successful if had good solid advice about doing what it took to be successful rather than learning how to beat the system.
    Last edited by paulLepore; 12-27-2011 at 12:19 AM.
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    While I don’t agree with you, no surprise there, you are proving my point exactly. In the above post you used facts and a personal story. Neither would have been as effective in trying to prove your point. That is the point.

    Also, I don’t tech people the “beat” the system, I take people who have spent years chasing their dreams and help them. A number of them have failed to get into the fire service by very small amounts, over and over, all they needed was a clue as to how to modify their presentation to best fit into what the raters are looking for.

    As an example a person I coached last year only mentioned that he had military experience. That was all he ever said in his interviews, just the facts. Well it turned out that he was stationed at air force bases around the world and trained to work with nuclear weapons, as well as fight all kinds of aircraft fires. He also responded off base with firefighters from Uzbekistan I believe. After adding the stories along with the facts he was able to pick from a number of departments that wanted him.

    By the way I am not try to protect my Daddy, But to protect people from what I feel is poor advise.
    Good Luck, Capt Rob
    www.myfireinterview.com

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    Rob,
    You're right. We are not goig to agree on this one.
    Last edited by paulLepore; 12-26-2011 at 11:17 PM.
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    Hello Capt. Rob, Bob and Chief Lepore!

    I have been testing for over 10 years, have a VERY solid resume and am very marketable. In being raised to respect my elders and learning that the fire service is paramilitary, my pre-winged interview answers were ONLY facts and straight to the point, in an effort to appear professional. When I was asked about how I would I handle situations, what I've done to prepare, what customer service was and how it affected us in the fire service and what I knew about the fire triangle, etc, I always answered factual and sincere. One problem though, I never scored high enough to make it to band Z! I always assumed in simply stating what I've done, telling why I wanted to work there and listing my previous experience, surely the panel would see I'm the guy for the job and that I would me the career I knew I was born for. Not until I looked at all the information I got from Captain Bob, Captain Rob AND smoke your FF interview, took the best of all the info and made it my own, did I FINALLY get a top score on my very next interview.
    I never made up stories and nor did I put a story into EVERY answer, but I did use stories when I felt it would benefit the panel. One panel (after I simply stated facts) even asked me if I wanted to elaborate or add to the answer I just gave, presumably to help me get the best score that I could and give them what they were looking for on that particular question. The panel wrote down a LOT of the things I was saying and they DID put their pencils down to listen to certain stories. The receptionist even commented, "I thought they were never gonna let you out!". Either way, I received a top score and was placed in the top band for the first time in my life! I respect all of you very much and appreciate all you do for us "wannabe's". I just know (from MY experience) simply stating things and being purely factual did NOT help my case in any of the interviews I participated in. Just thought I would share! Thanks!

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    Default Stories

    Having worked with Paul Lepore I can say he's a very good and intense interviewer . He is also very smart when it comes to doing interviews as you can tell by his books. I would listen when ever he gave lectures to glean what I could so I may help those who ask me "What can I do to have a better Interview." He will have his fans and his distractors. By that I mean everyone has their own way of teaching..ala Captain Bob, Captain Rob and even myself but the end result is to get the best candidate for the position. You might not agree with ones direction on how they get there but the end result is what we are all looking for. I've talked to Captain Bob Smith and he sounds sincere and dedicated and has his own style of instruction and success rate. So it does work and maybe some do not agree with the style it works.....Captain Rob being the Son I'm sure is doing his best to help those who need help. I think we can agree that what we want is good candidates and how we go about it only helps those who ask for our help. Those that don't have to deal with those that put more effort into their interviews and in the end will probably score higher.
    What is not needed is having those of us argue as to how we instruct and just do your best to find great candidates and not worry about the others. When we sit on a board as we do you can see the intensity and desire of those across from us and grade accordingly.
    I hope all of you and yours had a Merry Christmas and for all to have a great 2012..
    Respectfully,
    Jay Dudley
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    @smokeEater - Your situation sounds almost exactly like mine a little while ago.

    It didn't take me long to realize that I had to learn how to take a fire department interview. And the information guilded from all three of these men helped me get to where I am today. Granted, I am now at a department that does not rely on oral interviews. But the area I left did, and I managed to get placed at the top of two different lists. This was in part to Chief LePore, Captains Bob AND Rob.

    There's a naysayer on here who will say I got myself there. But without them, I wouldn't have known how to.

    Apparently they agree to disagree, but for anyone who is spinning their wheels in the process, you should utilize all of them.

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    Default Right on

    Bam....My point exactly.....
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    Jay and Bam,
    You make great points. We all have our style. It bothers me to see someone give what I consider to be bad or misleading advice. Just like I have done for 27 years in the fire station, I call someone out if I feel they are giving out misleading, false, or detrimental information.

    The statement Stories get badges is misleading to candidates and it is sending them down the wrong road.

    Yes you do want to qualify your answers like I said above, but interviewers do not want to spend their day listening to stories.

    Qualify your answers by telling the panel WHY you believe the way you do. If this means you have a related event (insert it here). DO NOT have premade STORIES that you planto share with the panel. If in the course of the interview you have a RELATED life experience and it qualifies your answer, this is the appropriate time to include it. If not, see above.
    Paul Lepore
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    I agree with you both and appreciate all the input and help as well. While all the information that both sides are giving is great and I can understand where you are both coming from. FFighterRob should really double check and edit his comments for spelling and grammatical errors prior to posting. I think it discredits his opinion a little bit when I find it difficult to get through reading a post. Even though it's something simple, your comments and postings represent not only your father you are backing up, but the department you belong to and the business you guys run. You're posting comments and opinions in a public discussion forum that are free to debate. While I agree with a lot of the things you had to say, I also appreciate and agree with Chief Lepore's comments and opinions in regards to the oral boards. I think it shows a lot in the confidence he has in his teachings to come out and debate something that he feels was misleading or incorrect information. There are not a lot of people that would do that here. There's nothing wrong with agreeing to disagree at the end of the day.

    While you both are extremely knowledgeable in preparing for oral boards and coaching candidates like myself for a dream career in the fire service, why is that Chief Lepores personal coaching is $200 less? Don’t get me wrong, there’s not a price I wouldn’t pay for a career in the fire service! In today’s economy and with a family of my own, it definitely makes it more difficult to pull the trigger on $400 coaching, compared to $200 coaching.

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    Patsfan

    Interesting reply?

    Market place will dictate sometimes if a product survives

    Do not think a business needs to justify what they charge

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    Default Prices

    Patsfan.....It's called a free market.......there are many out there who charge different rates for their services. Just like automobiles there are all types and prices....pick one out and use it. Nobody says you have to go with a Lamborghini .....when a Ferrari will do. Myself I would not let the price scare me if I want the job bad enough. Jump in and go for the one that suits you and quit worrying about the cost.
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    Again, I wasn't worried about the price or cost. I was just curious since it seems that they are both selling a product to the same, specific group. I haven't see anyone ask before, so I was just curious. Trying to weigh the two before choosing which one I'd like to go with. I have both their books and I think they're both fantastic!

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    Default Choices

    Ball is in your court.....you say you have a hard time pulling the trigger on $400.00 or $200.00.....It's your future go with which ever one YOU choose....and good luck.
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    Pats fan
    Great question, why is my coaching $200 less? The reason is simple, I know that entry level candidates are STRUGGLING to make ends meet. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that I would make $100 per hour.

    The truth is that after I wrote my first book, I coached people for free. This was until my wife approached me and reminded me that she had to pick up a second job to meet our monthly bills while I was helping candidates for free. I had a friend (my mentor Randy Scheerer) who was doing private coaching. I asked him what he charged. His answer 8 years ago was that he charged $200 for a two hour session. He spent $600 for a video camera and provided them with a copy of their session when he was finished. I asked him if he would be OK with me doing the same. I purchased a video camera and began coaching. My mentor Randy has since passed away and I owe him a debt of gratitude. I have not changed my prices in 8 years.

    To me it is not about the money. I coach candidates because I believe I can make a difference in their lives. The reality is that I often spend more than two hours with them, conversely I have told candidates after 20 minutes that I did not want to work with them. I felt they were selfish and would not fit well into the fire service. I did not want my fingerprints on them.

    I have been involved in the hiring process for over 300 firefighters. I have conducted countless entry-level and chief's interviews. I am intimately involved in the current entry level hiring process for my department (as well as writing the Captains exam). I have recently turned down dozens of private coaching requests lately because the candidates are taking my department's test. It's unethical to work with them.

    Nothing pains me more than to walk a candidate out to his car after we FIRE him or her because they are not the right fit. This is usually the end of their dream to become a firefighter. It's bad for everyone involved, including the department. The department needed to fill a spot and terminating them means that not only did we end their dream of becoming a firefighter, but we also have a spot to fill.
    The information I have always produced is to help people succeed in the fire service, not to teach someone how to beat the system.

    My father was not a firefighter. I had to learn all of the idiosyncrasies of the fire service on my own. It was hard to do. Some of the lessons I did not learn until after I was hired. This was really hard too as I struggled early on in my career. I want to help people avoid what I went through.

    The reality is that I make a great deal of money as a Division Chief in southern California. I learned a long time ago that it's not money that gives you job satisfaction. If someone wants to pay me $400 for a two hour coaching session, I will gladly accept. I am aware however that you entry level candidates all have bills to pay and that this is a major cash outlay for most aspiring firefighters.
    I am proud to say that every candidate I have ever coached has told me that they felt they wasted so many precious opportunities by not meeting sooner.
    Feel free to ask any other questions.
    Paul Lepore
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    I have taken 4 fire department hiring processes and got a Chiefs interview every time, but I am always 1 or two people away from getting hired. I have a instructor from college suggest "Smoke your firefighter interview" I just purchased a week ago and have read almost all of it. I can honestly say I feel that with the knowledge that the book has provided will help me get hired as soon as I apply somewhere else. I would suggest book to anyone that has not had the experience to know what a board interview is like.

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    Paul L

    Good reply, even though you did not have to

    It is people like you that improve the fire service

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