Thread: Oral Interview

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    Post Oral Interview

    Hi Everyone...
    In late October, I applied to my first career department, fortunately I took the written test and passed, just yesterday I recieved a letter, notifing me of my oral interview date. I'm rather nervous, I never had an interview which meant so much to me. If anyone has any pointers or advice, it would be greatly appreciated. The department's in Maryland. Thanks... Jenny

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    Default Don't be A Clone Candidate!

    It’s not the interview questions that are the problem, it’s the answers! Unfortunately many candidates become clones and give clone answers. And the bigger problem is they don’t know it. I hate to say, but often they are cloned in fire colleges and academies. Clone answers can doom your oral board.

    One of our officers was on an oral board for a big city. Several boards interviewed 965 candidates. His board interviewed 350 candidates over a period of 10 days. Imagine you were this officer and it is the fifth day of interviewing. You have just come back from lunch where the city has wined and dined you. You’re tired and you know you have another five days of interviews ahead of you.

    The next candidate is called in. The first question you ask is, "What sparked your interest and why do you want to be a firefighter?" He proceeds to give you the same clone answers you have heard from almost every candidate for five days. Public service, helping people, not the same thing every day, blah blah blah. The magic that you needed to hook up with the oral board has passed and you didn’t hook them into listening to your stuff. You have just scored yourself. Trust me. You can see the glaze come over the raters’ eyes. It’s like a deer caught in the headlights. They are gone and they won’t come back.

    It’s not that you can’t use clone answers. You can. But first you need to deliver a signature story about you. Not a clone answer of anyone else. I haven’t met a candidate yet that couldn’t come up with signature stories. Signature stories demonstrate experience. They also tell that you not only know the answer to a question, you’ve lived it. Firefighters love firefighter stories. If you open up with a signature story, you instantly separate yourself from the other clone candidates. Stories show the oral board who you really are. You capture the board and take them on a journey with a story they have never heard. Is this making sense?

    The toughest thing for candidates to do in an oral is being themselves on purpose. When you are yourself, you become conversational because you are on your own turf. This alone can lower the stress and the butterflies.

    An oral board member told me they had a candidate who didn’t answer all the questions the way they wanted him to do, but he had such great personal life experience in his answers (stories), they hired him anyway. This is human nature. Stories help bridge that gap. Clone answers and clone candidates don’t have a chance here.
    Stories are more than facts. If you can create 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.

    Some say, "Captain Bob" how can you help so many candidates without making them into clones?" Good question. Simple answer. The real reason is nobody else can tell your story! Nobody! When you start lacing your answers with your personalized experiences is where you start to shorten that gap between you and that infamous badge.

    Example:
    I was doing a coaching session with a candidate. He was telling a story about being a federal firefighter in Yellowstone when it burned. The story was not too exciting the way he was telling it. I had to stop and ask, "It sounds like you were trapped?" He was. Now he tells that story and the hairs start standing up on the back of your neck. You’re trapped with him. You can smell the smoke and see the embers dropping around you. Does this story make a difference? Please say yes.

    So the point here is not the question, but the answer. Start establishing your personalized stories. Practice them with a tape recorder to hear what the panel is going to hear out of your mouth.

    You can find more on testing secrets in the Career Article section from the Jobs drop down menu just above this posting.

    “Nothing counts ‘til you have the badge . . . Nothing!”

    Fire "Captain Bob"

    www.eatstress.com

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    Default

    Thanks for your reply, it was much apprecitated, and I'm sure will defintely help. Thanks again...

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    Be sure to rehearse with questions & answers so that you're not searching for answers & fumbling. CaptBob will always advocate the use of a tape recorder for hearing yourself answer questions, modifying your pattern a little, bringing up the tempo or changing what you say based on how it sounds. Best of luck, Jenny. You can bet everyone here will be right behind you. Keep us posted, ok?
    ~Kevin
    Firefighter/Paramedic
    --^v--^v--^v--^v--
    Of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong
    Dennis Miller

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    Thanks... I will defintely keep everyone posted, the interview is in the begining of next month. Thanks for all the advice!

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    What do guys like myself do when they have no stories to tell. I am a young hopeful applying to a Department and I think your advice is good but do you have any advice on how to modify my responses due to lack of experience. Thanks.

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    Yea, I could use some advice on that too... My department, we don't have very much residencal its all sprinkled industrial buildings. I just don't know how to talk experience on a fire supression level, I've taken many classes, and worked in live burns before...But none, since I've been with the department have been real fires. What can I say when they ask for fire supression experience???

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    I don't know if this is too late...but check out

    http://meshprogram.com/interview.html

    There is also some reference books at the bottom of the page you might want to look at.

    Whitey

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    Default What about those books?

    One of the problems with books on oral boards is they give you suggested answers. Since everyone else is reading these books all too many candidates become a clone of everyone else. Sadly, too many candidates test for years never realizing because they part of the clone pack, they will never see a badge.

    The secret is to use your personal life experiences to lace your answers making you unique, fresh and cause the oral board panel to say in their minds, That's it! We have been waiting all week for this!

    Here's a clone they turned it around:

    I didn’t know I have been a clone for the last seven years.”

    Joe had another chance to show what he could really do at another oral board a week after he discovered he had been a clone and more importantly what he did to turn it around. At the end of Joe’s interview, the chief said, “ You have been the ONLY candidate who has convinced us that you genuinely have what it takes to be a member of our department. Joe was overwhelmed with emotion. Finally, after 7 years, he was able to put together the presentation of his education, experience and life experiences to cause he oral board panel to say, “We have been waiting for this all week!”

    Reply: It must have been the real deal because Joe starts the academy April 1st.

    You can find more on testing secrets in the Career Article section from the Jobs drop down menu just above this posting.

    “Nothing counts ‘til you have the badge . . . Nothing!”

    Fire "Captain Bob"

    www.eatstress.com

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    Thumbs up Oral Interveiw

    Hey! I am where you are right now.

    I have been through 3 oral interveiws with in the past year. The first was with my current employer (I am part time in a full time department). That was the hardest interveiw because I was not certified and I had no idea what I was getting myself into. The second was hard because by this time I had an idea of the job and knew right from the start that not being an EMT did not make me look as desirable as the two other people that were being interveiwed. My third, which was two weeks ago for ANOTHER part time position, went exceptionally well! It was with a department that I run Mutual Aid calls with and have come to know quite well.

    With all three interviews I have been succesful. I was honest and as Captain Bob said.....my answers were different! I rehearsed but my answers came from the heart not from an assembly line. I looked professional and made extra, extra sure that I never once tried to play the "woman card" . I think that was the most important thing for me. Although I look like a woman, act like a woman and let's face it...I am a woman...I know this is about getting the job done and finding the person to do it!

    As long as you have heart and display your willingness to work at your weaknesses and utilize your stengths, you will have a succesful interveiw and hopefully be on full time soon.

    Good Luck,
    KPH

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