Thread: 1st interview
01-23-2007, 12:23 PM #1
- Join Date
- Sep 2006
- N.Providence, RI
I finally passed the written. Moving onto the interview in a few weeks. Would it look bad to go to the fire station now and request a tour of the building? I should have done it before now but.......
Anyway I was wanting to go look around and wanted a second opinion on if it would look bad to go after i got accepted for the interview.
01-23-2007, 12:35 PM #2
- Join Date
- Aug 2002
- San Francisco Bay Area
Here's some tips:
Station Visits/Ride Alongs
Ride alongs can help or destroy you! Candidates want the opportunity to do ride alongs as a way of showing interest, gain information for their oral, and can say in their oral they had been to the stations. Often they donít know the culture and etiquette.
We had a candidate in one day for a ride along. He had an opinion on every topic that was brought up, including sports and the current movies. When it came time for lunch, he was the first one on his feet to fill his plate. His mother would have died from embarrassment.
Let me be blunt here. Dummy Up! You donít have enough time or experience to have an opinion! In this situation you have to be humble, have your questions already written down and realize you are a snotty nose rookie. Too many candidates come in wanting the badge so bad they act like they already have time and want to impress the guys with all of their knowledge. BIG ERROR!
This information will spread like wildfire and destroy you with those who will be making the decisions. Too many candidates tank themselves here and they never know what happened. This applies even if youíre already a firefighter applying for another department.
Donít take the bait. Even if you have a friend in the station. If the guys want to joke around and play games, donít do it. You are not part of their family yet. You have no time or experience!
Some departments donít allow ride alongs during test time. If youíre lucky enough to do a ride along, show up on time with a desert. Home made is best. If itís ice cream, make sure itís the round stuff; not the square stuff. We had so much square stuff during one of test we had a contest in the back yard to see who could throw the square stuff the furthest.
After giving this information at a college fire program a candidate shows up at my station the next day. He didnít make an appointment, have desert, or have any questions ready. McFly?
One candidate told me in another class that he had made an appointment and had to wait a half hour when he got there. Poor baby. Understand this is our home. We spend more time at the firehouse than with our own family. So here you come waltzing into our home not knowing what to do.
If youíre fortunate to get a ride along, stay for lunch if offered. Offer to pay your share and do the dishes. Leave before dinner (unless asked to stay) and never spend the night. You might interfere with the kick back time during and after dinner.
Should you go to as many or all the stations in a department? Please spare us this part. Donít turn yourself inside out trying to cover all of the stations hoping the word will get back that you did. It will make you look anal and compulsive. This will raise its ugly head in the psychological test if you get that far. One or two stations are fine. If you try to do them all, it only increases the chances of saying or doing the wrong thing or catching a shift of malcontents that will badmouth you.
If youíre bent on doing a ride along, first make an appointment. During test time things get crazy. Be patient. Act like you would if you were the new rookie in the station.
01-23-2007, 01:03 PM #3
Great Post Captain
I must say that you really hit the nail on the head. Great info on ride-alongs.
Lifetime Member CSFA
IAFF Alumni Member
01-24-2007, 12:15 PM #4
- Join Date
- Sep 2006
- N.Providence, RI
Awesome! Thanks for the advice.
01-24-2007, 12:28 PM #5
- Join Date
- Aug 2002
- San Francisco Bay Area
Now What about the Oral
So, it's your first oral? What are you doing to be prepared before you walk into the room?
01-26-2007, 07:38 PM #6
- Join Date
- Nov 2005
This should get you pointed in the right direction
Visiting fire stations is a critical part of the hiring process. You will get to know the details of the job, station life, and that particular departmentís unique culture. Even more importantly, the firefighters will get to know you.
If you visit the stations early enough, before the department announces the recruitment exam, this can be a reality for you. If you show up with the testing crowd (all of the other candidates who show up once the department announces they are giving an entry-level exam), which often numbers in the thousands, your chances of getting to know the station crew, and vice versa, are greatly diminished.
The actual testing may be done by the civil service or personnel department, with input from the fire department, but you can be sure the firefighters in the station houses have their fingers on the pulse of whatís going on. As you can imagine, it is extremely difficult for firefighters on an interview panel to determine in a 20-minute interview if they want you as a member of the department for the next 30 years. Why not have firefighters who have gotten to know you, pitch you to the oral board?
It is important to understand that, good or bad, you are establishing your reputation the minute you walk in the door on your first visit. A positive opinion of you may make its way to the interview board. On the other hand, a poor first impression may also make it to the board.
It is hard to predict the best time to visit a fire station. In most agencies the phone numbers to the fire stations are not public record. It is up to you to go to the station and make contact. Since the firefighters are not sitting around waiting for you to knock on the door, there is a good chance you will miss them when you show up. This is especially true in high impact areas where the fire department experiences a high call volume. Ironically, the busier stations are the ones you want to visit. Since these stations run calls all day and night long, the younger firefighters are sent there to get experience. These are the ones who are the most current on the testing process since they went through it most recently.
Whenever you visit a fire station it is customary to dress nicely. Some candidates may elect to wear a suit and tie, while others prefer business professional (nice pants and shirt). Is a suit and tie overdressing for the occasion? Probably. How would you rather be remembered: as the candidate who showed up in a suit and tie, or one who showed up in a tank top and flip-flops? Believe me, the firefighters will remember you.
I know a candidate who showed up to a fire station wearing a suit and tie to inquire about the testing process. When asked if he was on his way home from work, he said that he was off today. When asked about his suit and tie he told the firefighters that the job was very important to him and he wanted to make a good first impression. The firefighters were speechless. Imagine the help they gave him. (Remember, we want to hire people we like, and who will cherish the job.) This candidate certainly made a strong first impression.
The same can be said for someone who comes by dressed in a less than professional manner. It is a poor choice to show up looking like you just came from the beach or the gym. It is important to remember that you are visiting our house. We are professional when we are called to your house. We ask that you show the same respect.
The firefighters appreciate (and expect) that you will bring an edible gift when you visit. An apple pie is my personal favorite. It keeps well as you are parked in front of the station waiting for the crew to return. Ice cream will melt, and a banana cream pie (which is also a firehouse favorite) will get warm and spoil. A warm apple pie, however, appears to have just come out of the oven.
It is important to knock on the door or ring the bell, even if the apparatus doors are up. It is an invasion of privacy to walk in unannounced to a fire station and yell, ďIs anyone here?Ē This would be similar to someone walking into your open garage and calling your name. Itís just not good firehouse etiquette, and is certainly not the positive first impression you were hoping for.
Once you have knocked on the door and a firefighter opens it, you should introduce yourself and ask if it is convenient for you to have a moment of their time. A pie in your hands will naturally increase the likelihood of them having some time for you. If it is not a good time for them, ask if you can make an appointment to come back later.
If you are turned down at the first fire station, go back to your car and open the map book and find the next closest station. In an urban area the next station may only be a mile or two away. In a rural setting you will have a further distance to travel. Once you have found the next station, repeat the process.
The best time to visit a fire station is between 3 and 5 PM. The firefighters have probably finished their inspections and are either working out or preparing dinner. The mornings are usually reserved for fire prevention activities or other fire department related activities. The late afternoon is usually less structured.
Once you have been invited in, it is important to explain that you are there because you are interested in getting hired by their department. Ask them if they know what to expect from the testing process. Generally speaking, the agency will give an exam on a fairly regular basis. Many departments have it in their city charter to have an ďactiveĒ hiring list even if they donít have any projected openings.
It is important to have researched the department before going to the fire station. You can do this by visiting the fire department administrative office or by looking up the departmentís website. However you choose to do your homework, do not ask the firefighters how many stations the department has and how many calls they go on each year. This is a waste of THEIR time. You will quickly lose their interest and be politely escorted from the station at the first opportunity.
The best way to reinforce a positive first impression is to show that you have done your research. You can confirm your information by asking them if you can review it with them: ďI understand that you have 23 fire stations and that your department runs 50,000 calls per year.Ē The difference is that the firefighters see that you have taken the time to do your research, and you donít expect them to do it for you. Again, itís a sign of respect. Their time is too valuable.
Some of the questions you should ask include but are not limited to the following:
1. How long is the probationary period?
2. What can I expect from the academy?
3. How is the relationship between the fire department and the community?
4. How many firefighters are going to be hired and how long is the eligibility list?
5. What desirable qualifications is the department looking for? (You will have
already read the job description flyer, but you are looking for the ďinside information.Ē)
6. What are the strengths of the department?
7. What are the opportunities for advancement down the road?
8. What can I do to make a good impression on the oral board?
9. Is the fire department active in the community? (e.g. teaching first aid and CPR courses, public service day, CERT Training, etc.)
10. What do you like about the department?
11. What additional projects or assignments are firefighters able to get involved in? (e.g. fire prevention bureau, hazardous materials team, confined space or technical rescue, and paramedic program)
12. What are the different areas of the community that the fire department services? (e.g. airport, marine, wild land interface, freeway, commercial, high-rise industrial, residential and beaches)
13. What special community projects is the fire chief planning to implement? (e.g. CERT Program, train a certain percentage of the community in first aid, CPR and AED, immunizations for the community)
14. What is important to the fire chief? (e.g. experience, education, mechanical aptitude, living in the community)
15. Is the city or county planning to add or delete fire stations?
16. For the new firefighters who have done well on probation, what qualities do they possess that have made them successful?
17. Where is the department headed in the future? (e.g. hazardous materials teams, weapons of mass destruction task force, immunizations for the community, add a BLS ambulance transport system)
18. What are some of the biggest morale boosters for the firefighters that have occurred in the last couple of years?
19. What projects has the department completed in the last few years? What projects are still in the works?
20. If you were in my position and you wanted to work for this department, what would be your next step?
21. Is there anyone else that you would recommend I speak to?
Most firefighters are very proud to be a member of their department. They want to be sure that the ones who follow feel the same way. A wise fire chief once told me, ďThe fire department ran well for 100 years before you became a member. You can bet it will run for another 100 years after youíre gone. Itís up to us to make sure we leave it in the hands of competent people.Ē
As you can see, when you show up to the stations the firefighters are unofficially deciding if you are worthy of being a member of the department. It is imperative that you leave them with a positive first impression.
01-27-2007, 11:21 AM #7
- Join Date
- Aug 2002
- San Francisco Bay Area
Miracle Oral Board tool
The Best Oral Board Secret!
Iíll tell you in advance the secret oral board tool is in the fifth paragraph.
Estimated reading time 3 minutes
Many applicants tell me they want this job so bad they will do almost anything ethically and morally to get it. Many are not using a simple tool that could tilt things in their favor.
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 his 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 coaching 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.
So, what tools can you use to practice and rehearse your oral board answers? A video camera? Sure. 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. The closest distance between you and the badge is picking up a tape recorder and hearing what's coming out of your mouth like Mr. Monotone!
I received a call from another one of our candidates. He has made it to a few oral boards and one Chief's Oral without success. He has been invited to the LA City 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? He hemmed and hawed and finally said, ďWell, no. But, I'm thinking about it.Ē
Even though he had our Gold Package Program http://eatstress.com/goldpackage.htm 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. It doesnít surprise me. Ninety-nine percent of the candidates I talk to arenít using a tape recorder either. 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.
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 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. You can find our 30 Sample Oral Board Questions here http://eatstress.com/thirty.htm 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 time and your time! Seek out another career. Understand you still have to interview there too. The above candidates have already lost some great opportunities. Had they been faithfully using a tape recorder to prepare for his oral boards, he probably could have had a badge already.
Some will say, ďWell, if I practice it too much it will sound canned.Ē NO it won't! It sure will be planned though. Practice makes permanent. ďLuck is preparation meeting opportunity.Ē 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.
Hereís a candidate who learned the value of using a tape recorder:
You have helped me change my family's life forever.
After getting your program and doing a coaching session I went home and practiced for the remaining week I had until my oral interview. Every day I watched the video over and over and came up a format for the interview questions using your suggestions, then practiced them with a tape recorder and in front of a mirror. I went into that interview with CONFIDENCE that I didn't know I ever had. I walked out of the interview and I was doing cartwheels in the parking lot. I knew in my heart that I smoked that interview, a feeling I have never had before. I received a letter a few weeks later stating that I was in the top 12. I went on to the background; psych tests, and medical exams. Yesterday I got a call from Human Resources saying I was offered a position and the academy starts in two weeks. I HIT THE LOTTO! Thank you so much for your help. You have helped me change my family's life forever. Shawn Jordan and family
If you want 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 whatever, 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?
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