Have you ever listened to wind chimes? One hangs in our back yard. It contains 6 chimes. When there is not much breeze, only one chime is heard. Itís a constant monotone gong, gong, gong, gong. When the wind changes direction ever so slightly all-6 chimes begin to play a melody.

It would only take you a short time as an oral board rater to hear the same constant drone when too many candidates use a flat monotone voice. It sounds like they were giving a patient assessment, sounding like the gong, gong, gong, blah, blah, blah of the one lone wind chime.

Then a candidate, who knows what the panel is going to hear out of their mouth because he has prepared with a tape recorder, sits down in the hot seat and comes out swinging. Hitting all the notes, with the necessary timing, inflection, enthusiasm and volume polished. Just like the slight increase in a breeze to activate all the notes on the wind chimes, if candidates only knew it would only take a few minor changes to orchestrate their interviews closer to their badges.

It doesnít take long on a phone conversation with a candidate to realize why they are having problems.

A recent candidate had such a monotone voice I asked if he knew? He said yea, but thatís just my voice. I told him I didnít believe that for a second. What can I do about it? Iíve been testing where I can for four years, going to school and work as a federal firefighter.

Trying to get on his turf, I asked him during a coaching session what do you do with your time off? What are your interest, hobbies? What really rings your bell? Nothing seemed to work to break his monotone voice. That was until a few days later I get a call from an energized candidate. I didnít recognize the voice. Yes, it was Mr. Monotone. He told me he didnít realize how bad it was until he listened to the tape recording of his session. He said, ďMan I sounded retarded. I canít believe how much stuff I left out. How many times I said ďWhat EverĒ and other stupid pause fillers I didnít know I was using." The mystery of why this super qualified candidate could not get hired was solved by listening to a tape of what the panel had been hearing for four years.

You too can create the winds of change that can turn things around and ring all the chimes; coming out of the fog with the chimes that turn into tones dropping and youíre moving towards the rig on another call. The fifth call in a row. It started at shift change. You havenít had a chance to stop for anything more than to restock and get the rig ready for another run and not getting anything to eat. Youíre not hungry anyway. Because youíre working with a crew where the red-hot captain tells dispatch youíre available from the scene you are on so you wonít miss any calls. Youíre living the dream of a lifetime. Riding big red. The monotone voice a distant memory.

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

Fire "Captain Bob"