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Thread: Interview Question: What have you done to prepare yourself?

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    Default Interview Question: What have you done to prepare yourself?

    Hey guys, I had a quick question regarding this interview question. I'm not sure how in depth a panel would like to see a candidate go here. For example, I have some employment in my past which I feel is very unique and relevant to the fire service, but I am not sure if a panel is strictly looking for Academy, Reserve Fire Fighter, EMT, School, Volunteer with X company, etc. I'm running into the problem where if I briefly mention what I did/learned in each, my answers runs pretty long. I'd greatly appreciate any knowledge and insight you guys could provide.


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    In your oral boards everything you have done up to that day has prepared you for this opportunity. Too many candidates leave out important life experiences that could make a big difference.

    While riding a bike on vacation the chain jumped off both sprockets. Couldn’t call the car club and it was a long walk back. I rewound the video tape of my life to when I had a bike and quickly got the chain back on both sprockets, wiped off the grease with a handy wipe and peddled away.

    Try this: This will probably be your longest answer. Start with your education and keep it in chronological order so you won’t forget anything.

    Then, your life and professional experience in chronological order. Start your experience by rewinding the video of your life to your first and succeeding jobs in life; no matter if you got paid or how menial it seemed. Many have had paper routes, mowed lawns, worked for relatives or at Burger King. O.K., what did you learn? How you learned to work hard, show up on time, have responsibility, provide customer service and how to work as a team.

    Many have told me they’ve been playing sports since they were 6 years old. Did you participate in sports in high school or college? Did you letter? Did your team advance to the regional or state finals? Isn’t that working as a team? As a team member you had to stay in shape, have commitment and recognize the strengths and weaknesses of other team members and how you could cover in. Do any of these areas apply to the fire service? You bet! Every one of them. So any time you can relate your personal life experiences in answering an oral board question, you are telling the oral board that you not only know the answer to the question, you have already lived it!

    End with those things you can tie your name to. Things where you were part of a team, spearheaded a group, took a project from inception to end or were part of a committee that established a procedure or skill. Include anything you volunteered for no matter when it happened. Once you start on this question you keep going until you finish your answer.

    It’s critical to practice your answers with a hand-held voice recorder that goes everywhere your car keys go to work it out.

    This is how it can play out on a promotional test but also applies to entry-level:

    Tony was going for his first Captain’s test. I asked Tony to begin his experience for his answer to what have you done to prepare for this position. Tony’s first job was working in a bicycle repair shop. He went through successive jobs and the rest on his experience. At the end of this question Tony told the panel that he spearheaded the establishment (attached his name) of bike paths and trails in the city where he was a firefighter. He also collected, repaired used bikes and gave them to those in need. He also collected donations from businesses to fund this program.

    This type of presentation is referred to as a recall. Tony came full circle from his first job in life to using the experience years later to establish a community-wide bike program. Tony was promoted to captain his first time out.

    It was that early life experience (without the handy wipes) that I recalled to get the chain back on the sprockets and back on the road.
    ColoradoDave likes this.
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    Capt Bob, thank you very much for the lengthy and informative reply. I didn't expect anything that detailed and I really appreciate you taking the time to write that up. The only other questions I had were when I come to something like say education, should I be mentioning what I have learned in the pursuit of each degree? I would imagine that being on the other side of the table, you'd know what I learned at a junior college while I was obtaining my AS degree in Fire Tech, but should I still be touching on it? Also, this seems like a very detailed question, but what kind of time limit should I be aiming for? Thanks again.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FutureFire87 View Post
    Capt Bob, thank you very much for the lengthy and informative reply. I didn't expect anything that detailed and I really appreciate you taking the time to write that up. The only other questions I had were when I come to something like say education, should I be mentioning what I have learned in the pursuit of each degree? I would imagine that being on the other side of the table, you'd know what I learned at a junior college while I was obtaining my AS degree in Fire Tech, but should I still be touching on it? Also, this seems like a very detailed question, but what kind of time limit should I be aiming for? Thanks again.
    This will be your longest answer. It could run 5 plus minutes. No, you don't need to go into detail on what you learned, just give the title or cert. If an HR or civilian is on the panel the other FF panel members can fill them in. Practice your answer with a voice recorder to condense it down until it sound right to you.. Once you start, don't stop until you're done.

    On education start with your first qualifications and keep them in order so you won't forget them i.e. EMT, FF1, Academy and end with the highest: I will have my AS Degree in the Spring of 2013. Instead of saying you are working on your Degree, you say I will have it on this date.

    Leave out the dates and where you received the certifications unless it's really important.

    Does this answer your question?
    Last edited by CaptBob; 05-08-2012 at 08:00 PM.
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    This absolutely does. Thanks again capt Bob. I greatly appreciate it.

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