1. #1
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    Default Oral Interview ? Tell us about yourself...

    What do raters want to hear for the question "Tell us about yourself"?

    I've heard two different takes. The first is that you want to sell yourself by emphasizing your backround similar to an oral resume but shorter and spend no time or very little time on your personnal life.

    On the other hand I've also heard that you don't want to talk about your backround because the panel already has this information in front of their face with your resume and application. Do they really want to know where I live, if I'm married, if I have kids, what are my hobbies etc.?

    Something is telling me to go with the first but to include a little bit about my personal life. What do you guys think? Also anyone willing to critique me on how I would answer this question?

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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by killin7053 View Post
    What do raters want to hear for the question "Tell us about yourself"?

    I've heard two different takes. The first is that you want to sell yourself by emphasizing your backround similar to an oral resume but shorter and spend no time or very little time on your personnal life.

    On the other hand I've also heard that you don't want to talk about your backround because the panel already has this information in front of their face with your resume and application. Do they really want to know where I live, if I'm married, if I have kids, what are my hobbies etc.?

    Something is telling me to go with the first but to include a little bit about my personal life. What do you guys think? Also anyone willing to critique me on how I would answer this question?
    I've wondered the same thing. I am facing the oral board in the coming weeks. I was told not to emphasize my education, work history, certs, etc because they have my background packet in front of them with all that in there. But to me, what I've done is part of who I am.

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    Default Short or Long Opening?

    The dilemma is shall I have a short or long answer for the typical opening question "Tell us a little about yourself". Remember "a little". This is just an ice breaker question to get you comfortable in the chair. What’s real important to understand here is that answer is not scored! That’s right; there is generally not a box to score the answer for an opening or closing statement.

    A one minute or less answer about you and your hobbies is all that is needed here. A "Nugget" here: If they look baffled after your short answer, ask if they want more. They usually won't.

    Most candidates make a big error on this question by dumping the whole load on why they want to be a firefighter, what they have done to prepare, why this city and on and on. That's not what this question is about. It's only to get you comfortable in the chair. Then, when the panel starts asking why they want to be a firefighter, what have they done to prepare and the other standard 30 possible oral board questions, they have to reiterate what they have already said. They lose valuable time and points here.

    When some candidates start talking in an oral, it’s like going on a journey. There could be no final destination. Most panel members aren’t packed for the trip. I asked a candidate to tell me a little about himself during private coaching one day. I stopped him 12 minutes later. I said you have just used up 12 minutes of a 20 minute oral. What do you think we have time for now?
    ______________________________ _______________

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    First of all I want to assure you that this question is absolutely graded. Just to cover the point I want you all to understand that EVERY question and interaction is graded.

    You are even graded on the way you sit in the interview waiting room, the interaction you have with my secretary while waiting for your interview, the small talk during the walk from the time I get you in the waiting room until we get to the interview room. In short, you are graded on ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING!

    My rule of thumb for this question is if it is on your resume DO NOT SAY IT. This is your one opportunity for us as the panel to decide if we like you. It’s kind of like the sniff test. Do not waste this chance by telling us about all of your experience etc. We want to learn about YOU, not your wall paper and certificates.

    Most likely the very next question will be, “What have you done to prepare yourself to become a firefighter?” If you have already given us all of your wall paper and certificates you are going to repeat everything you already told us.

    More importantly, you missed the ONE chance in the interview that you will get for us to decide if we like you.

    It’s important to remember that we are NOT looking to hire the MOST qualified person, rather someone who we like and want to have on our crew for the next 30-years.

    Here’s my answer. It is taken from my book, “Smoke your firefighter interview.”


    Tell us about yourself.

    Answer:

    My name is Paul Lepore.
    My family and I live in Dana Point, California. My wife, Marian and I have
    been married for 12 years and have two daughters, Ashley and Samantha. I
    grew up in Huntington Beach and spent the majority of my life in northern
    Orange County before moving south 3 years ago.
    I enjoy sport fishing. My wife and I own a boat on which we spend a lot of
    time fishing and exploring the waters around Catalina Island. My love of fishing
    has taken me on some extensive travels through Baja, California. I have even
    written a book about my passion, called “Sport Fishing in Baja.”
    In addition to the outdoors, I also like playing racquetball and basketball
    and enjoy riding my bicycle.
    I currently work as an electrician (fill in the blank of what you do for a living and a VERY little bit about your job).
    Two years ago I set myself a goal to
    become a firefighter. Since then I have pursued an education in fire science
    and have learned all I can about becoming a good firefighter.
    This is a little bit about myself……..

    Reasoning:

    This is an opportunity to discuss your personal life. As you may have noticed, I did not mention much about my qualifications. I used this opportunity to talk
    about my personal life and my hobbies. This kind of question is designed
    to encourage you to bring out information about your life experiences
    and personal interests.

    Sharing personal information about yourself gives the rater an
    opportunity to learn what kind of person you are. It also gives him/her a
    chance to discover something about you that he/she can relate to. That
    may create a good feeling for him/her, which may result in him/her giving
    you a higher score. Let me give you an analogy to illustrate my point.
    Imagine that our wives work together and have dragged us to their
    annual office Christmas party. We are sitting at a circular table dressed
    in our suits and ties. Our wives disappear to mingle with their co-workers.

    You and I have never met but sense we are in the same boat. Rather
    than ignore one another, we start talking about such things as where
    we’re from, how many kids we have, where we live, etc. If we have a lot of
    time to talk, we might even discuss the kind of work we do, how we met
    our wives, how long we’ve been married and where we grew up.
    Usually when you find a common interest with another person, you
    tend to want to explore that. For example, if the other person mentions
    that he likes fishing, I would ask him more about it since I also enjoy
    fishing. I would mention my interest in both fresh as well as salt water
    fishing, and encourage him to talk about his fishing adventures.

    This example illustrates how common ground can promote conversation,
    which may lead into discovering other common areas of interest.
    Many candidates mistake this question as an opportunity to outline
    their resume. This is a serious mistake. The question is designed to
    encourage answers about your personal interests. This is your opportunity
    to show the board who you are. Don’t waste time going over your
    qualifications; rather, use the time to enlighten the board.

    By using this opportunity to provide information about where you are
    from, what you do for fun, and any special accomplishments that you are
    proud of, hopefully someone on the board will identify with something
    you have said and will feel a connection.

    You never know what that connection could be. It may be that they
    too played high school or college football. Maybe they are from the same
    part of the country. Perhaps a board member who plays basketball is
    looking for players for the basketball team. They may have an interest in
    auto mechanics. It may be possible that you speak a foreign language
    and your skills may be needed in certain areas of the community.

    Another benefit of providing personal information about yourself is that once a
    rater feels a bond with you, he/she is more likely to give you a higher
    score. It stands to reason that if no connection has been established,
    you will have to work that much harder for a good score.

    Let’s say the department has an opening for a seat on the fire engine.
    They have decided to hire a firefighter to fill the vacancy. Since fire departments are always inundated with prospective candidates when
    they give an exam, they have the luxury of hiring whomever they want.
    This wide range of choice makes it more likely that they will hire someone
    they like.

    If you are going to be put straight onto a fire engine, our choices are
    more limited since prior training is a must. In other words, the department
    may be looking for someone who has already put him/herself through a
    basic fire academy at the local junior college.

    If we are going to put the new hire through a fire academy, we can
    hire someone with minimal experience. Firefighters would much rather
    hire someone who has similar interests, values, goals and morals. I’m
    not saying they’re looking for clones. What they are looking for is someone
    who fits the profile of a firefighter. They have a much better chance of
    choosing someone qualified by learning about them personally as well
    as professionally.

    Paul Lepore
    Battalion Chief
    www.aspiringfirefighters.com
    Last edited by BCLepore; 01-31-2007 at 08:16 AM.

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