I just spoke to a group of aspiring firefighter candidates. The question came how to handle scenario questions. We went at the question of you see someone pick up a watch during overhaul. What do you do? Of the forty plus candidates, many of which are in line for a position pending their oral board, not one could come up with the formula on how to deal correctly with this scenario.
This is a perfect example how you can be fooled on a scenario question. I believe there are only 30 oral board questions. They can be disguised in hundreds of different ways. This is one of the disguises for stealing. You can get the sample of 30 possible oral board questions here: http://www.eatstress.com/thirty.htm
Here is a simple way to break a disguised question down. Dissect the question down to its simplest term, one word, of what the question is really about (i.e. stealing, drugs, drinking, etc.). Once you have removed the disguise, you can place it in one of the 30 plus oral board questions you already have answers for. This is one of the simple tools to uncomplicate the oral board process.
One way to help you do this is picture a piece of paper with a line drawn down the center. On the left of the line are issues dealing with ethics, such as stealing, drugs, or drinking. With ethical issues, you ask appropriate questions to determine what you suspect.
If true, you don't deviate . . . you go straight up to a supervisor. On the right side of the line is anything to do with getting along with others; you will go to great lengths to work it out before going to a supervisor. If you can decide what side of the line the question belongs, you have a better chance of knowing how to answer the question.
So to take off the disguise, dissect the question down to its simplest form; one word. What is this about? Honesty, ethics, etc.? No. Try again. stealing? Right. What side of the line is this on? Right or left. If it's on the left side of the line what do we do? Stealing is not tolerated. Right again, ask questions to determine if your suspicions are correct (Is that yours?). If so, you go straight up (why don't we go to our supervisor) no matter who or what rank is on the other side of the table; and stick to your answer no matter what. YOU WILL NEVER BE WRONG! TRUST ME! Don’t start a soap opera saying are we gathering everything up to take it to the captain; or can I help you take it to the captain.
Here's another way this stealing question was disguised at a recent large city oral board:
You come into the locker room and see a firefighter going through another firefighters gym bag. He looks at you startled and puts a candy bar in his pocket. What are you going to do?
One candidate said, I wouldn’t do anything. Hey it’s only a candy bar.
Another said, I am going to assume the firefighter gave him permission to be in his bag and take the candy bar and it is none of my business and I am done with the question at that point. The "I'm done with the question at that point" kind of just blurted out of my mouth and I couldn't get those words back. Also I wonder if it might have been good to ask the firefighter if he had permission to be in his bag? Should I have asked that?
Oh, yes you should have. What if it was a wallet instead of a candy
bar? Would that change your response? Well, yea was the reply. Then
treat is like it was a wallet and what is the question about now?
Stealing? Yes, it is! It’s one of the standard oral board questions
disguised in a different way using a candy bar.
Understand if they fire up a question that sounds like stealing what’s it going to be about? Stealing? Yes. If they fire up a question that sounds like drinking on the job what’s it going to be about? If they fire up a question that sounds like using drugs on the job trust me it’s not going to be about aspirin. If they fire up a question that sounds like sexual harassment, that's what it's going to be about, or they wouldn't bring it up.
Your job is to take off the disguise, ask questions to confirm and then take action. Why? Is stealing tolerated? No. So instead of taking action why start watering down the situation that was given to you (yes, you’re being scored by what action you would take)? Well, yea, everyone or “they said” you had to give the person the benefit of the doubt. So you start creating this soap opera of all the possibilities why maybe he could not be, or somehow it could have been another situation, he had permission, or some other make believe soap opera shuffle off to buffalo dog and pony show while the panel watches you die a slow death.
These are all soap opera answers. Unfortunately they are taught in fire academies and fire technology programs. They will make you a clone candidate. Don't go on this journey. They are insulting to the oral board. You could loose valuable points here. We are intelligent beings on the other side of the table. Give us credit for that. Don't start a soap opera. Ask a question that would verify your suspicions and give a direct answer; not a soap opera.
If they fire up these questions, take off the disguise ask questions to verify what you suspect, decide what side of the line it belongs on and then take action in fantasyland. Don't be like so many candidates by starting a soap opera.
"Nothing counts 'til you have the badge . . . Nothing!"
Fire "Captain Bob" Author, Becoming A Firefighter
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Im 23 years of age currently attending college to become a firefighter. I Work full time and support my 4 year son and girlfriend of 5 years. I wrk about an
1hr 1/2 away from home. I would really like to find another job so I can really focus on school. However there is a concern. I have had alot of jobs in the past, probably 13 will this many jobs look bad when I try and apply for fire department?