1. #1
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    Default Chiefs Interview

    Hello,

    I have made the top three list for fire captain in my department, and now the fire chief wants to have interviews with the top three candidates. What should I expect? what whould I wear?

    thanks

    Cedric

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    Default The Chiefs

    Once the promotional list is established, there could be another interview with the fire chief and/or his staff. They want to know if you are going to be one of the horses in the team that is going to pull the department in the direction to fit the chief's culture and future plans. Know his direction. Do you have the ability to solve problems? Have you established a reputation of providing solutions and not problems? Are they going to have the confidence in handing you a command? Giving you a station, battalion or higher position is like giving you a 7 Eleven franchise. Are you going to be part of the solution in keeping your franchise together, or part of the problem of not keeping it productive? You had better have a plan thought out before you show up for this part of the interview process.

    Many candidates go into this interview thinking they have to do repair work for something that happened during their career. Leave it alone. It is buried in cement. Unless they bring up the situation, remain silent. They probably never will bring it up. Focus on your assets to the team and the organization.

    Abraham Lincoln said; if you want to check a man's character, give him some authority. Are you the one who turns into the resident Nazi when given some authority, or micro manages everything within your reach? One of the malcontent firefighters that always is bad-mouthing the administration or tearing others apart to try and make themselves look good? A good, healthy, stress-free life can depend on good thoughts and attitude. If you are a born pessimist, constantly negative, and look at everything as black, then this situation feeds on itself and can poison you, your relationships, and any chance you had for a promotion.

    No one wants to be stuck working and living with a black negative cartoon. You have been in stations and seen crews that feed off of being negative. They must have forgotten how it was to work a regular job or do not realize that there is an army of people that would take their spot in a heartbeat. These are the folks that back in the cowboy days if they were caught rustling horses and the sheriff was going to hang them, would be complaining because it was not a new rope.

    This is a bad habit you can change by your attitude. Attitude is such a small thing that can make such a huge difference. Attitude is your rudder through life. Practice not being negative for five minutes. Then, double the time. Keep doubling it until you break the habit. Do not take the bait if others try to hook you into being negative. If you fail, start over. Once you can do this for twenty-one days, your subconscious will be reprogrammed. You will not die! Water, a drop at a time, will eventually float a whale.

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

    Fire "Captain Bob" Author, Becoming A Firefighter
    http://eatstress.com/firefighterbook.htm

    www.eatstress.com

    888-238-3959

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    Default Chief's Interview

    The Chief’s Interview

    Alan Patalano is a Deputy Chief for the Long Beach Fire Department in Southern California. He has agreed to share his thoughts and ideas on what he is looking for from a candidate during a chief’s interview.

    There are dozens of people around who will be glad to offer advice on how a candidate should perform during a Chief’s interview. They will tell you about the theory of interview questions, body language, dress and presentation. I don’t have expertise in any of those areas; instead, what I have is the experience of conducting Chief’s interviews from the perspective of a Chief Officer and from the perspective of sitting in the room after the interviews are completed and actually deciding which candidate gets a job offer.

    The Chief’s interview is far different from the structured oral interview that you may take during the initial testing phase. The initial interview usually asks every candidate the exact same questions, in the exact same order. This is done so that the exam is consistent for everyone. The Chief’s interview does not operate in this fashion. In the Chief’s interview I am free to ask questions of each candidate based on his or her resume, experience, education, background and responses to previous questions. I do not need to ask each candidate the same questions. This is an important point. My questions are based, in a large part, on your responses to prior questions.

    I evaluate your responses in several ways, including:

    1. How well do you communicate?
    2. Are your answers thought out?
    3. Are you confident?
    4. Are you truthful?

    Let’s look at each aspect:

    How well you communicate has a huge impact on your overall score. Your ability to utilize the spoken word to convey a message or make a point is the foundation of a great score. The first portion of good communication is listening. What do I mean? Simply stated, to develop a great answer you must know what question I am asking. It is not uncommon to stop a candidate a couple of minutes into a great answer because he or she is answering the wrong question! There are several reasons why this happens:

    · The candidate anticipates particular questions before arriving at the interview, classifies the question as one of his or her preconceived questions and provides the answer.
    · The candidate has a list of predetermined answers and utilizes the canned answer that is closest to the question I ask.
    · The candidate formulates a reply without listening to the complete question.
    · The candidate is nervous and gets off-track while answering.

    So before you can develop a great answer you should listen carefully to the question in its entirety. If you are unsure of what is being asked, then ask for the question to be repeated and/or clarified. This not only allows you to provide the best possible answer, but also shows that you are not afraid to speak up when needed to avoid mistakes (a good quality to have on the fire ground). But do not make it a habit to ask for every question to be repeated. This might only show that you are not attentive.

    Once you determine what the question is, make sure you take the time to formulate a great reply. Many times I no sooner finish the question before the candidate starts talking. I always think to myself, “I wonder if the candidate was listening when I was talking.”

    Tone of voice, volume and grammar all impact how I perceive your answer. An angry or aggressive tone makes me question how you may respond to the public during emergencies, especially when you are under stress. Low volume indicates a candidate may be timid or lack confidence. Poor grammar or slang makes me question your maturity. Remember that good communication is predicated on providing information in a format so that the listener (i.e. the interview panel) can understand it, and not on the way you like to say it.

    Next I like to see that your answers are thought out, logical and realistic. Once I ask the question, you should be able to walk me through the sequence of events or the steps you would take. As an example, if the question asks about your education, your response shouldn’t start with high school, then discuss grade school, then a course you are currently taking, and then your college experience. It should be presented in a logical sequence: grade school, high school, college, and the current course. It is confusing to the interviewer when the answer is presented in a disorganized fashion, and makes me wonder if everything you do is disorganized.

    Answers also have to be realistic. If asked a situational question about which task you would perform: 1) pull a hose line to a door, 2) hook to a hydrant, or 3) raise a ground ladder, the worst answer would be, “I would do them all because I am young and strong.” It’s not practical and shows a lack of understanding of the real world. On the fire ground we are faced with choices, and every firefighter must be able to analyze facts and make decisions. I expect to see this same quality during the interview.

    Another big quality I look for during the interview is how you represent yourself. Do you appear confident? Are you sure of yourself? Your answers should reflect your confidence in your skills and abilities. An answer that is vague or noncommittal demonstrates a lack of confidence. The nature of our business makes confidence during emergencies a vital personal quality. Can you make a decision and then act on it? Needless to say, there is no crying during the interview!

    Finally, do not let me catch you telling a lie, stretching the truth or telling only half the story. I am willing to overlook past behavior (up to a point) if you have shown that you have changed that behavior. I won’t consider it past behavior if I find you to be dishonest or unwilling to share all of the facts during the interview. That is your current behavior and is unacceptable. It will not matter to me if you can offer a good excuse for why you weren’t honest initially because I will already be looking for a better candidate. I cannot stress this enough. If I catch you in a lie you will not get a job offer today or for the life of the list, period.

    It is very important to understand that during the interview I am looking for candidates who will be able to work with my firefighters for 30 years. We can train you to pull hose, take a blood pressure and operate a hydraulic rescue tool. What we can’t train you to do is act in an honest, ethical manner or be professional or compassionate. You must have those traits “built-in” before you arrive for the first day of drill school, so I look for those qualities during the interview.

    Education shows that you can commit to a course of action and follow through until completion. Work history shows loyalty and commitment. Community activities show that you believe yourself to be part of something greater than just yourself, your family and friends. How you dress shows that you consider yourself important and respect the job and those who perform it. All of these things serve to assist me in “seeing” the real you. No single fact, statement, or resume line assures you a job offer. Instead it is a compilation of all of your various education, background, experiences and presentation that helps you to rise above the other candidates and secure a position.

    I have offered positions to candidates with years of firefighter experience and to those without any experience at all, to those with extensive education and to those with only a GED, to candidates with a list of certificates and to those who didn’t have a single piece of paper except what was required to apply. What they all had in common was desire, commitment, honesty, loyalty, compassion, and a dedication to serving a greater good. If you possess these qualities and can demonstrate them to me during an interview, then there is a very good chance that within a year I will be shaking your hand and welcoming you as the newest member of my department.
    Paul Lepore
    Battalion Chief
    Author of Smoke Your Firefighter Interview and The Aspiring Firefighter's 2-year Plan
    www.smokeyourfirefighterinterv iew.com

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    I would like to thank you for posting a reply to my question, I now have some great news. I came in second after the Chiefs interview for the position of Fire Captain and I must admit that all the information received was of great help. I want to thank Capt. Bob for his information and I must let you know that I purchased your program and it helped so much in getting prepared, from the dvd to the audio tape it was all money well spent. Chief Lepore, thank you for the information, I was not aware that you had written a book, but I do have my own business utilizing your safety training programs from EMS Safety, I do also recommend them to everyone interested in owning a successful training program. Thank's again.

    Cedric Cesena

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    Default Bravo

    Cedric:

    Congrats on your success! Thank you for the kind words. It's great being in a high card position of Ace, King, Queen where is would be tough going around you.

    Please e-mail or call me at captbob@eatstress.com

    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" Author, Becoming A Firefighter
    http://eatstress.com/goldpackage.htm

    www.eatstress.com

    888-238-3959

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    Congrats Cedric. May you have a continuous success with this career. I am also hoping to achieve something like yours in the future.
    Last edited by rmorrison100; 02-27-2011 at 12:15 PM.

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    Default

    Congrats, the interview is certainly one of the most stressfull events of your life. Glad you made it out alive.
    Fire Service Interview questions - The blog that has REAL interview questions for firefighters, Engineers, Lieutenants, and Captains !

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