In February of this year, I applied to the firefighting classes at Chipola Junior College, Marianna, FL. The gentlemen that is in charge of the program called me last night to set up an interview with me. There are 24 spots in the class and 40 applicants.
I need to know what I should and should not say. No kidding. Please give me any suggestions, tips, and anything else that might be useful in my trying to secure a spot in the class.
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06-04-2003, 04:30 PM #1
I need help with an interview, please!
06-04-2003, 05:22 PM #2
First, treat it just like a job interview. First impressions are vital.
Be on time. That means plan for unexpected things like traffic jams.
You want to be appropriately dressed - at a minimum slacks, nice shirt and tie, and clean dress shoes.
Be presentable. If you do outside work, make sure you do little stuff like clean your fingernails (sounds simple but some folks forget). Also, if applicable, I would remove any earrings or other piercings. They may not offend, but why take the chance.
Be prepared to answer questions about your academic background, work history, and your reasons for wanting to take the course.
I'm assuming this is to meet Florida's new training requirements. If so, they're almost certainly looking to weed out folks that think they're auditioning for a part in 'Backdraft'. Now, don't get offended because this isn't an attack but unless I'm badly mistaken you've stated in other threads that you didn't think academic work was as helpful or important as hands-on stuff. I would absolutely keep ANY hint of something like that sentiment from appearing in the interview. The FFI course involves a great deal of academic work. You will spend many nights memorizing ICS, NPFA codes, building construction types, and many other very dry but incredibly important bits of information. In short, you need to present yourself as a serious student dedicated to learning the business of firefighting and not a whacker looking to do whatever is needed to keep his hobby.
I just tried to hit the high points. This topic comes up in the forums from time to time. If you search the career forums you'll find a lot of great suggestions.
06-04-2003, 05:28 PM #3
- Join Date
- Jul 1999
- Flanders, NJ
Let's forget for a moment what to say. Let's talk about the package.
You want to be a professional? Be a professional. Suit, ironed shirt. Matching tie. Shined shoes. Socks are NOT optional.
Clean cut appearance. Hair cut, shave, clean and cut nails, brushed teeth.
You are then in a position to be honest. You want to be a fire service professional and this degree program will help you to do that. Period.
06-04-2003, 07:01 PM #4
- Join Date
- Mar 2002
Show them that you want it. You may or may not be the most qualified person for the posistion. However, show them that you want it more than anyone else. You can even tell them that you know you are not the most qualified, but hta tyou have a strong desire to do this and if they pick you you will work harder, longer and more than anyone else they can find. Then you have to do it. It is not always about what you know and dont know. It is more about what you want.
I agree though that appearance counts for a lot. Be clean, professional, clean cut, polite, on time.
State your accomplishments. I know it is hard to sort of toot your own horn, but this is the time to do it. I used to be so scared of coming across as thinking I was better than the other applicants that I would leave out that I had a paramedic license, that I had been to numerous classes. Tell it all. It is your only chance. Once you get hired on somewhere, no one will want to hear about all your experience somewhere else.
06-04-2003, 11:29 PM #5
- Join Date
- Jan 2003
Great Place To Go...
For help with interviews, and other questions and tips, look no further than:
It's a very helpful site with a great deal of information. Hope this helps and good luck.
Last edited by Irons6789; 06-04-2003 at 11:32 PM.
06-05-2003, 06:55 PM #6
Beat me to it...
Looks like Irons beat me to it. Yes, www.eatstress.com
is the place to go to. I suggest taking the
information in there serious.
Also, at the site there is an 888 number to
call. Capt. Bob will chat with you on his
own dime. I suggest calling hime and getting
some FREE pointers. Here are a few-
-Prep your answers now. Use a tape recorder.
06-05-2003, 10:01 PM #7
George hit it on the head.... You asked for advice so please take it to the bank!
I am certain that there will be a time frame allowed for the interview...(15-20 minutes). The interviewer most probably ahs the same questions to ask everyone and you will be responsible for answering all of them and managing your time. That is part of the interview to see how you handle pressure. He will most likely tell you that you have "xxx" minutes and he has 10 questions to ask. So with this in mind listen to the question completely and then think of an answer (but dont just blab it out). Answer it completly and do not babble... When you are done tell him "I have completed my answer." If you hesitate he will not know if you are done.
When asked questions....answer the question as thoroughly as possible and do not try to fill in space with BS...he will see through it.
If you do not know, say so....do not try and make up something...he will know the difference.
When you enter the room extend your hand to shake his. When you are finished, stand up and shake his hand again and tell him: " I appreciate your taking the time to interview me for this."
Go in there and be sure of yourself but do not be "COCKY." Behave and respond in a professional manner.09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
"Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.
06-05-2003, 11:28 PM #8
- Join Date
- Aug 2002
- San Francisco Bay Area
–The Miracle Oral Board Tool
What tools can you use to practice and rehearse your oral board answers? Right, a video camera. You need to see how you look in action. But you are trapped with a video camera. Mirror? Sure standing in front of a mirror is good. But you are missing the most valuable tool of all. A hand-held tape recorder.
I received a call from one of our candidates. He has made it to a few oral boards and one chiefs oral without success. He has been invited to the San Diego oral board and wanted to set up a private coaching session. In just a few moments I was aware of something critical. Then I asked him if he was using a tape recorder to practice? Like most people (99.7%), he hemmed and hawed and finally said, "Well, no. But, I'm thinking about it."
Even though he had our Entry Level program that hammers and hammers the point home that you have to use a tape recorder and hear how you sound, he still didn't get the message. His answers were garbage. Many applicants want this job so bad they will do almost anything ethically and morally to get it. I guess that doesn't include using a tape recorder to get your timing, inflection, volume, where to cut out material, get rid of the an's, uh's and other pause fillers, or to find out if you really sound like Donald Duck. You need to get married to your hand-held tape recorder. You need to hear what the oral board is going to hear out of your mouth. It's narrows the distance between you and the badge you're looking for!
What is the first thing a candidate says when he hears his voice on a tape recorder? Yep. That's not me. Yes it is McFly. You need to get married to a hand held tape recorder and practice everywhere you go.
This is usually a guy thing. Guys think about their answers in their head and write them down. Then they think their answers are going to come out of their mouths like magic in the oral. Trust me, they don't! The brain and mouth don't work that way.
Try this. Take 3X5 cards and write down your oral board questions. Practice your answers with the tape recorder. If you hear something you do not like when you play it back, turn over the 3X5 card and write it down. The next time you go after that question, turn over the card first and see what you don't want to say.
Let me tell you how critical this really is. If you're not using a tape recorder to practice, practice, practice, rehearse, rehearse, rehearse and over learn your material until it becomes second nature to you, you might as well not show up for the interview. You are wasting the oral boards and your time! Seek out another career. Understand you still have to interview there too. The above candidate has already lost some great opportunities. Had he been faithfully using a tape recorder to prepare for his oral boards, he probably could have had a badge already.
Some will say, "Well, if I practice it too much it will sound canned." NO it won't! It sure will be planned though. Practice makes permanent. "Luck is where preparation meeting opportunity." One practice session with a tape recorder is worth 10 speaking out louds. After practicing, you will get to a point where your answers will get into your subconscious. That's where the magic begins. You can't be fooled.
We think practicing with a tape recorder is so important; we will not do private coaching with a candidate if they aren’t using one. It is a waste of our time and their money. Be advised that your competition knows the value of using a tape recorder. They are catapulting past you if you’re not using one too.
Here’s what we know after 30-years of experience. Those candidates who get our Entry Level Program, use the work booklet that will become their script to audition for the job of a firefighter, use a tape recorder to practice and come back and do private coaching end up catapulting themselves into the Olympic Camp to get a shot at the badge. A proven inexpensive way to gain a 25+-year career. To be one of the last of America's heroes.
Instead of posting messages on bulletin boards asking others where they’re at in the testing process for this city and I’m in the top 40 on this list or that, start asking your self this question: What am I doing that can best prepare me for the most important part of the hiring process? . . . The oral board. Because if you can’t pass the oral board, or score high enough on the list, you don’t get the job. Never! Ever! Ever! Now, where’s your tape recorder?
For more on the oral check out the Firehouse.com Career Articles section by clicking here:
Last edited by CaptBob; 06-05-2003 at 11:31 PM.
06-16-2003, 05:06 PM #9
I'm sure glad to have that off of my back. Today I went to Marrianna for the interview. I think that I did pretty well, considering that it was the first time that I have been before an oral board. I really didn't know that there was going to be more than one person interviewing me. There was 3 and I thought there was going to be 1. I also had no idea what types of questions to expect.
They asked me some pretty easy questions that now seem like a no-brianer. I was aked why I wanted to be in the fire service, why I should be picked over everyone else, what kind of experience I had, and several other things that I can't remember.
I answered the questions pretty smoothely with the occasional nervous 'uh' coming out inbetween words. I told that them about how I'm an active volunteer, how that I am a leader at work (I'm in charge of my shift), how I was a leader in NJROTC (I was the commanding officer of the unit), and that I want to be a firefighter becuase I love doing it and I love to help people in any way that I can.
06-16-2003, 05:54 PM #10
- Join Date
- Aug 2002
- San Francisco Bay Area
Why Do You Want to be a Firefighter?
This is one of the toughest questions to answer without sounding like a Clone.
I have thought long and hard about the answer to "why do you want to be a firefighter". I'm having a tough time putting it into words. My biggest desire to be a firefighter is because I love the way the department functions first as a family, then as a job.
I've had way too many jobs that were just corporate ladder climbers and backstabbers. Do you think if I push the "family" aspect will I get max points for that question?
Reply: This is a "Clone" answer. It will doom your oral board. Try to think of what really sparked your interest to be a firefighter. Come up with those signature stories. Once you have the board hooked into listening to you, you can use those other "Clone" answers to caboose your answer.
By the way, I would never use, "I've had way too many jobs that were just corporate ladder climbers and backstabbers", as part of your answer. It might give a bad impression of you to the oral board.
I asked a candidate, who was testing for Oakland, during coaching one day why he wanted to be a firefighter. He gave me the typical "Clone" answer, "It's giving back to the community, public service, helping other's, blah, blah, zzzzzzzzzzzz."
I stopped him and asked, "What really got you interested in being a firefighter?" He said, "Oh, well I grew up in Oakland, but moved to Shasta during high school. After graduation I went to hotel management school in Reno. That didn't work out, so I moved back to Oakland and started going to Chabot College. I met an old friend who was in the fire science program. We ended up over at his house. His father was a Captain for Oakland. They got me all fired up, I signed up in fire science, got my firefighter 1, became a medic and I'm currently a federal firefighter."
I just sat there amazed. I asked him if he had ever used this (his signature) story before? He said no. You gave me the "Clone" answer and you had this beauty sitting here? He polished up the story and practiced it with a tape recorder. He works proudly for the City of Alameda.
Another candidate remembered he had the Gage and Desoto dish and cup set from the TV series Emergency. His mom had a picture of him in front of the TV as a kid eating off it when the show came on. He took that picture to his orals. Did it work? He works for San Jose Fire.
After a written test I asked a group of six candidates why they wanted to be firefighters. They were amazed that what they thought was unique was only a “Clone”.
After I worked with one in the group with his signature story of why he wanted to be a firefighter, the rest of the group used the formula to put together their own too.
I have yet to find a candidate who doesn't have signature stories. The problem is they don't know how to use them. You might not know yours today. But, after reading this, you will have some aha’s in the next few days.
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