Thread: Situational Questions
02-09-2007, 07:27 PM #1
- Join Date
- Mar 2006
I was wondering if people could contribute some interview questions regarding diversity and situational questions. I realize there are specific things that these questions are designed to target. I have seen a few of these questions and would like to get some more of them to practice.
Also, what are your opinions of trying to personalize your answers to these questions? Thank you in advance.
02-09-2007, 10:47 PM #2
- Join Date
- Aug 2002
- San Francisco Bay Area
Don't start a soap opera!
Do you think you have what it takes to answer all situation questions correctly? . . . answer this (in less that an hour)?
What would you do as a rookie firefighter? Your Captain asks you to come in his office to review your final evaluation of probation. You notice a smell of alcohol on his breath? How would you reply?
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 drinking on the job, which is number 12 on our 30 plus list. You can find a list of the 30 sample 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 we have 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 donít 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 take off the disguise that this is your captain. Dissect the question down to its simplest form; one word. What is this about? Right, drinking. What side of the line is this on? Right or left. If itís on the left side of the line what do we do? Drinking is not tolerated. Right again. Ask questions to determine if your suspicions are correct (are you drinking?). If so, you go straight up (why donít 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!
Hereís another way this question can be disguised:
You go in the locker room and see a fellow firefighter drinking something that looks like alcohol. What do you do? The clone, soap opera answer would be: I would try to get him into the day room, play cards and try to smell his breath; or I would have him go home sick, or have another firefighter come into relieve him.
These are all soap opera answers. Unfortunately they are taught in fire academies and fire technology programs. They will make you a clone candidate. Donít go on this journey. They are insulting to the oral board. You will loose valuable points here. We are intelligent beings on the other side of the table. Give us credit for that. Donít start a soap opera. Ask a question that would verify your suspicions and give a direct answer; not a soap opera.
Understand that if the oral board fires up a question that sounds like drinking on the job, itís going to be about drinking on the job. If itís a question that sounds like taking drugs on the job, itís going to be about taking drugs on the job; Itís not going to be aspirin. If the question sounds like itís about stealing on the job, itís going to be about stealing on the job. If they fire up a question that sounds like sexual harassment, thatís what itís going to be about, or they wouldnít bring it up.
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. Donít be like so many candidates by starting a soap opera._____________________________________________
"Nothing counts 'til you have the badge . . . Nothing!"
Fire "Captain Bob"
02-10-2007, 12:21 AM #3
- Join Date
- Nov 2005
The hiring process is not a game and it is not a fairy tale. We ask specific questions to determine if the candidate will fit into our culture.
All of the interview questions can be classified into three categories:
1. Will you make it through out training
2. Will you make it through the probationary period
3. Will my firefighters in the station like and respect you?
Situational questions are designed to see how a candidate will respond if
faced with adversity. The following are common areas of potential conflict:
1. Moral issues
2. Ethical dilemmas
3. Legal issues
4. Societal obligations
5. Violations of established policies and procedures
6. Interpersonal conflicts
Most candidates focus too hard on what they think the board wants to hear
rather than saying whatís really on their mind. Here is a typical example:
As you watch the engineer back up the rig, you see him accidentally strike a car. As you approach, you observe him trying to rub out a deep scratch on the vehicle that he hit. When he notices you watching, he tries to make light of it, and tells you not to worry. You tell him that you feel itís important that he bring it to the captainís attention. He explains that itís an ďold, junkyĒ car. He adds that in the fire service, everyone sticks together, and asks you to ďcoverĒ his back on this one.
Most candidates misinterpret the point of this question. They are confused
by the ďbrotherhoodĒ of the fire service, and believe that firefighters are willing to lie for the good of a co-worker. Nothing can be further from the truth, since a true firefighter doesnít lie, and will refuse to cover anything up.
The best way to answer a situational question like this is to determine how
you would handle it in your everyday life. Letís say you and a friend are leaving the parking lot of a restaurant, when he accidentally backs into another car. He leaves a dent, but tells you he doesnít plan on doing anything about it.
What would you do and why?
No matter how loyal a friend you are, I donít believe youíd be willing to turn
your back on the fact that he just damaged someoneís vehicle. You will most
likely persuade him to try to locate the owner of the vehicle or call the police. If he refuses to do either of these things, you will probably encourage him to at least leave a note for the owner of the vehicle. You might remind your friend that leaving the scene of an accident, no matter how minor, is illegal and would be considered a hit and run.
For some reason, many candidates believe that firefighters can get away
with doing something immoral, unethical and/or illegal.
There are some common rules of thumb when dealing with moral issues.
In every situation, itís imperative to do the right thing. In this situation, the right thing would be to step up and take a stand against the action. Remember, even though an action may be legal, it can still be immoral. Itís a firefighterís duty to make a moral decision whether it is for himself or a co-worker. A candidate would be expected to know this and respond accordingly.
Firefighters do not operate in ďgrayĒ areas. If something is wrong, it is wrong.
Even if thereís only a perception that it may be wrong, it is usually wrong.
Perception often ends up being reality. It is important to maintain the dignity of the fire service. Firefighters are a rare minority of people whom the public
allows into their homes without a second thought. It is incumbent on all
firefighters to protect and honor this privilege.
Ethical questions deal with something that may not be illegal, but either go
against societyís rules or the cultural rules of the fire department. Ethical
dilemmas are often related to violations of departmental policies and
procedures. Policies and procedures are often written as a result of either
personal injury to a firefighter or civilian or damage to equipment. In almost all
cases, they stem from a monetary loss that the fire agency has suffered in the past.
An astute rater will ask a candidate if organizational policies are important.
A savvy candidate will undoubtedly nod his or her head yes, and assure him
that a firefighter should not, under any circumstances, violate the rules.
If, on the other hand, a candidate believes itís acceptable for a firefighter to
violate a policy because it seemed insignificant, it stands to reason that he will violate similar policies once he or she becomes a firefighter.
Departmental policies and procedures are meant to be followed. Letís say
a rookie firefighter decides that a policy is insignificant and elects to ignore it.
Now letís say an injury or accident occurs as a result of the broken policy. The probationary firefighter will be expected to outline a memo to the chief about the circumstances surrounding the incident. Predictably, the fire chief will want to know why a departmental policy was violated. He will be expected to provide the city manager or board of fire commissioners with an explanation.
Imagine the frustration of the fire chief having to explain why a new firefighter violated a policy, and what the consequence of his action will be. Since a probationary employee has no civil service protection and no union representation, a serious infraction could result in his termination.
From an organizational standpoint, you cannot have members follow only
the policies and procedures that they feel are important. This would result in
an organization that lacks discipline and would eventually collapse.
The fire service has adopted many of the militaryís policies and procedures. This is why the fire department is considered a paramilitary organization. If itís assumed that a soldier would never violate a policy or procedure, why not assume the same with a firefighter?
In most situations, the moral or ethical dilemma wouldnít personally involve
you. The dilemma would be for the firefighter who is either asking or implying
that you should look the other way. You know what you would do if you were in your fellow firefighterís shoes. You would take the high road and do the right thing. Your challenge will be to convince your comrade to do the right thing.
Doing the right thing isnít always easy, but itís the only way to go.
Legal issues are usually pretty clear-cut. Most candidates understand the
importance of taking action when a situation is illegal. Candidates who donít
understand this will not usually fare well during the interview.
Societal obligations, however, are usually in the ďgray area.Ē It can be much
more difficult to decide between right and wrong when it involves an action
that comes close to crossing the line of good judgment.
In this situation itís important to investigate and gather the facts. If it appears that there has been some type of wrongdoing, you need to make it clear that you would step in and address the situation. The panel does not expect you to suggest there be an in-depth investigation. Your response could simply be that you would address the fact that something was wrong, and would refer the situation to your captain.
Interpersonal conflicts not only create an uncomfortable working
environment, but erode crew unity. There are numerous situational questions
that are designed to determine how a candidate deals with these conflicts.
While people deal with interpersonal conflicts every day, conflicts in a fire
station can be magnified because firefighters live, eat and sleep in close
quarters for extended periods of time.
The purpose of these questions is to determine which candidates will get
along with others. Candidates who grew up in large families and those who
played team sports have an advantage in this area since they are used to
dealing with many types of personalities.
When confronted with an interpersonal conflict, it is important to approach
the individual and attempt to clear the air. A savvy candidate will suggest
asking the other firefighter if he or she is doing something that needs to be
Instead of assuming that the other firefighter is off base, it is important
to ask (and listen) and then do what you can to improve the situation.
Whatever the cause of the irritation, it is important for the candidate to be
As you root your way down to the source of the conflict, it may be that
you are not meeting the standard. It may also be that you are not perceived as being a team player...
If you are interested in downloading 85 of the most commonly asked fire department interview questions check out the link below.
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