1. #1
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    Default Help losing confidence for Oral!

    I have my Oral coming up this Friday with OCFA, and I need some help. I have been going over some of the questions that they may ask that I have found online. I have formulated responses to most of them, but when it comes to Why I want to be a Firefighter I am having trouble. I know what my reasons for pursuing this profession are, but the information about how to present it has put me in a bind.
    One place tells me to put it into a story i.e. signature story, the other tells me that the oral boards get tired of hearing "signature stories". This is what one of the websites says:

    Why do you want to become a firefighter?

    The average candidate usually relays some story about seeing the fire department in action and seeing a flash of light and knowing from that point forward this was his or her calling.

    The truth of the matter is that we interview 12 –15 candidates each day. We don’t want to have to sit through a dozen stories of some life-changing event of why you want to become a firefighter. We are not looking for your “signature story.” Believe me, after the first couple of stories they all sound the same. We are looking for mature, well thought out responses as to what compelled you to want a career in public service.

    I have Capt Bobs cd's and read his webpage about interviewing and am aware about what he says, but this one from another reputable website, Aspiringfirefighters.com contradicts what I have read in other places. Like I said I know what my reasons are and I don't want to sound like a clone but what am I to do when it sound like 2 reputable websites disagree on this topic?

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    I would stick with Capt. Bob His program is proven over and over. It worked for me!!

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    I can't offer much good advice on what you should do...Just wanted to say good luck on your interview!

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    Well I can tell you that the first website you quoted is mine. I can tell you that whatever you decide, it has to be something YOU believe in.

    I can tell you that I sit on entry level and promotional panels on a regular basis. I sat on my department's Chief Interview panel three weeks ago. Four weeks ago I proctored the Oral Presentation portion of a major LA County's department's Captain's exam. In the last year I have been a rater for 6 different departments.

    Put yourself in the position of the interivewer when you are taking an interview. Look at it through our set of glasses. All of the stories are pretty much the same. I don't want to hear some Hollywood story about how you saw a flash of light and knew the fire service was for you.

    I have worked with several people from the last two OCFA classes (including my next door neighbor who was hired two classes ago).

    My way isn't right and Bob's isn't wrong. They are just different. You need to decide what YOU believe and follow it through.

    Speak to as many people about interviews as you can. Make sure the people you are speaking to are the ones who are doing the interviews. Everyone has an opinion but it's up to you to decide who makes the most sense to you.

    BTW, make sure you are ready for the oral presentation. It's a big part of your score.

    Paul Lepore
    Battalion Chief
    www.aspiringfirefighters.com
    Last edited by BCLepore; 09-26-2007 at 08:52 PM.

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    The interviews have started for OCFA. It's common to start creating sea monsters as your interview date is approaching because you want to make sure you've done everything you can and don't feel totally prepared.

    You have questions on your signature stories. Do you think you have the time to switch ponies at this late date? Consider this article from Firehouse.com here:

    http://cms.firehouse.com/web/online/Fire-Service-Careers/Stories-Get-Badges/8$46786

    Stories Get Badges!

    We encourage candidates to lace their answers with personal life experiences. Since no one else can tell a candidate's life experience stories they can't be placed in the mold of a profile. They become unique, fresh and convincing. In a recent fire academy half the recruits were candidates who went through our program. You couldn't tell one from the other in the oral board because they were using their own stuff. Not a profile robot "clone" of everyone else.

    If you have all the education, experience and the burning desire to get that badge, you're not getting hired, having to cool your heels in another position waiting for that next opportunity (not a bad ideal), you have be asking yourself why?

    Candidates you are reading about in our material are a lot like you. They simply got positive results by putting simple techniques into action. The big difference is they figured out how to maximize the points in their oral boards and are now riding big red and taking home a pay check.

    Here's how they did it. Since oral board scores are calculated in hundredths of points (82.15, 87.63, 90.87, etc), the goal is to keep building on a few hundredths of points here on this question, a few hundredths there on that answer, gaining a few more hundredths with their signature personalized life experience stories at the appropriate time, delivering the all powerful "Nugget" answers that no one else can tell, and pulling away from the parrot salvo dropping clones.

    Before the clone candidates realize what has happened, these candidates have added on extra points to their score placing them in a position to be invited to the chief's interview where they get a real shot at the badge. Just being 1 to 2 points out of the running can decide whether you will go forward in the hiring process or not.

    The toughest thing for candidates to do in an oral is to be themselves on purpose. Your stories establish a natural bridge between you and the panel. When you're yourself, you become conversational because you are on your own turf. This alone can lower the stress and the butterflies. Every one has butterflies. The trick is to get all the butterflies to all fly in the same formation than can make the difference.

    Stories are more than facts. If you can recreate the excitement, emotion, the color and magic to relive the actual event, you will capture the interest and a top score on that question. A big part of getting this job is convincing the oral board that you can do the job before you get it. Stories are convincing and can demonstrate your experience, even if they're not fire related.

    One reason stories work effectively is because they go directly to the brain and entertain. They do not require the mental processing of more formal nonfiction writing. Stories have heart and ring true.

    Collect illustrative stories as you are collecting facts, quotations and other information for your signature stories.

    Practice those stories with a recorder. The recorder goes everywhere your car keys go. Condense them down to a couple of minutes or less. Don't go on a journey. The oral board is not packed for the trip. You won't have time and it's not appropriate to use a signature story for every answer. Tell the story. Make the point. Move on. Once you answer an oral board with a signature story, you can marry the rest of your answer with those clone answers you have been using. Try it and see the amazing difference.

    "Put it before them briefly so they will read it, clearly so they will appreciate it, picturesquely so they will remember it and, above all, accurately so they will be guided by its light."-Joseph Pulitzer, (1847-1911) American journalist.

    When you start lacing your answers with your personalized experiences is where you start to shorten that gap between you and that infamous badge.

    "You can't control the wind, but you can adjust your sails."

    The proof is in the badges!
    Last edited by CaptBob; 09-26-2007 at 10:01 PM.
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    why are you "formulating" a response? You should just honestly answer the questions. If you don't understand the question ask the to rephrase it.

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    Default Be You, who else can ?

    The why do you want to be a firefighter question is the example I use to explain to people why they should us a signature story. In the question they are asking you for your story, how could you answer it any other way?

    I do agree with the quote you took from Paul’s sight. If you had a one time event that made you choose your career, what will happen next to have you change it again? “I saw an accident and now I want to be a firefighter, a month late I flew to Las Vegas and now I want to be a pilot”.

    You should be able to let us know why this adult is sitting in the chair asking us for this career. How did you get there? When was the first time you took a class, became a volunteer, took a test, made that first step toward the job? What were you doing for work at the time? What process did you go through to make the decision?

    I interview a person a few days ago that said,” well, it all goes back to the fire pillow I had on my bed as a child”. If he had used that in an interview every on of the interviewers would had screamed in their heads, “OH COME ON YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING ME”. I have had two people tell me that they wanted to be firefighter because their mothers were nuns, go figure.


    I have had people say things like:
    “ I find that firefighting meets a need I have within myself to do something more than just a job”, “

    “At some point along the way firefighting went from something I did, to just who I am”,

    “ I have had firefighters tell me they thought I would be good at it and fit in well, and they saw something in me I didn’t even see”,

    “ When I went into the Army they evaluated me and told me it was what I was best suited for, and boy were they right”,

    “ I am good at every facet of this job, but most of all I just love fighting fires”,

    “Going on a call with the department I am with now, and seeing someone very upset and stressed breath a sigh of relief just because I am there makes it all worth my time and effort”

    “The more I have learned about this job, the more experience I have gotten has just shown me how must I was made for this job”

    You get the idea. But no one person, no book or web site can tell you what to say, it has to come from you, and be your story.

    I had a person I worked with about a month ago that had come up with this long answer that covered every part of the job and how he wanted to do it. When we talked and he just told me his story, I told him to go in and say just that. The department he was testing for had their physical agility after the oral. He said at the physical one of the people from his panel walked up to him and said, “I really don’t remember anything about the people I interviewed last week, but I not only remember you, but everything you said in you interview. It was by far the best we saw”. Instead of trying to invent something that he thought they wanted to hear, he just told them HIS story.

    Good Luck, Capt Rob
    nrtc@sonic.net
    (707)869-1330
    www.myfireinterview.com

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    Quote Originally Posted by jrdunkle View Post
    why are you "formulating" a response? You should just honestly answer the questions. If you don't understand the question ask the to rephrase it.
    Because it sure beats stuttering through a response or just looking like the proverbial deer caught in the headlights. That way you are ready for just about whatever question they give you.

    I like to put it this way: Rehearse until you don't sound rehearsed.

    Good luck,
    bam

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    Thanks for the replies everyone, I think I am just over analyzing it all. Being that this is my first trip to the Oral Panel, Im just tryin to dot my t's and cross my I's, wait reverse that. I just need to harness those butterflies whipping up my stomach and get into my comfort zone. I am a little concerned about locking up on a question like I did today when my ride along Captain asked me "why I want to be a firefighter", I know why, but I couldn't tell him. THe only thing left is to practice somemore with the tape recorder and bring my A game, wish me luck and I'll let you all know how it went.
    Thanks
    Tony

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    Well, what made you want to be a FF? When did it happen? For me, as an example - When I went to my dad's firehouse when I was a kid and got to play on all the trucks, I thought it was really cool... Then I got on a volly dept and had so much fun that I wanted to be there all the time, I tried a couple other jobs (to appease the family) but I missed the rush and the feeling I got when I actually made a difference for someone.

    Just be honest, cause they can see right through bull****.

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    My father was a firefighter and I stayed away from saying that he was. I didn’t want to seem like I was asking for nepotism, that they should hire me because my daddy was a fireman.

    But what I would say is that I grew up around a fire station, because I had a family member that was a firefighter. That allowed me to learn about the job, the hardships and rewards that a person in the public might not understand . If they asked I would tell them it was my father, and they only asked once.

    The worst I ever heard of was a guy who tested for Richmond fire. He took a letter with him from his father the fire chief and gave it to the panel at the beginning of the interview. They gave him a 70%.

    Not every person on a panel would be offended by saying your father was a firefighter. But if one in 13 people would be, and you have 4 people on your panel, you have a 50% chance one person on your panel would be, why take the chance.

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    After a written test I asked a group of six candidates why they wanted to be firefighters. They were amazed that what they thought was unique was only a “Clone” of everyone else in the group. After I worked with one in the group with his signature story of why he wanted to be a firefighter, the rest of the group used the formula to put together their own too.

    I have yet to find a candidate who doesn't have signature stories. The problem is they don't know they have some or how to use them. You might not know yours today. But, after reading this, you will have some aha’s in the next few days.
    ______________________________ _______________

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    Being a former employee of the OCFA, I can promise you this- Like most other FDs, they love a college education. Pretty much most everyone with some collar brass there as some sort of degree, trust me.

    If you can work it in your oral, its a good start. If you dont have some college education, please find some way to show what you have built your life on- Education, training and experience.

    And all of the other basics- Eye contract, cusotmer service, clear voice, etc...

    PM me if you need more help.

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    Some of the most solid firefighters I know grew up in a firefighter family. Some of the largest complainers and firefighters with poor work ethics are sons of firefighters.

    DO NOT use the fact that your daddy is a firefighter to help you get a job. As Rob mentioned above it stinks of NEPOTISM. My father was not a firefighter. While firefighter’s kids are invited in the back door of the station, the rest of us had to knock on the door holding a pie hoping we could get a moment of time with them.

    DO NOT mention in any way that your dad is a firefighter. This includes:

    I grew up in a firefighter family
    I have seen the fire service from the inside out
    My daddy was a firefighter

    For the record, the higher you father is in the fire service the more people he has had influence over. Not everyone will like him.

    Earn the badge on your own merit.

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    On his visit to several LA City fire stations, this candidate was told to make sure he mentioned that his two cousins work for LA City!

    Another: My father is a thirty-year veteran of the fire department. My grand father was a twenty-six year veteran of the police department. Would it be a good idea to incorporate that information into an answer on the oral exam? Thanks Rod

    I believe that would be instant suicide.

    It will hurt you. Too many candidates club the oral board over the head with a dad or other relative who is or has been a firefighter. The panel can interpret this as asking for more points.
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    I can not stand some (not all) kids of Firefighters. They were lucky enough to grow up in the fire service and think they paid some sort of dues already and earned a couple of stars on their sleve.

    As Paul said, some of us had to work hard to come through the front door. I once had a guy come to my station who was a volunteer firefighter and I asked him, what have you done to prep. for the job? He instantly spouted off- "I am a third generation Firefighter and..." Then I thought- "So f-ing what? Thats your platform?" I soon showed him the door, he didnt need or want my help.

    Build your own package to deliver to the oral board, not the coattails of a family member. They earned their salt, you grind out yours.
    Last edited by CALFFBOU; 09-28-2007 at 12:22 AM.

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    I earned my dues - in fact I think I had it harder off trying to 'live up' to how dad was.. I always explained that I grew up in a public service family, not to get brownie points - to tell them why I wanted to be a FF. That's how it was, as far as i'm concerned there was nothing wrong with saying that, as long as your not coming off like 'well my daddy was a firefighter so i should be one too' attitude.

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    Today is Friday, any news ? ?

    how'd ya do ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by r3ydium View Post
    Today is Friday, any news ? ?

    how'd ya do ?
    You must be on the east coast? Your e-mail came in a 10:00 am here on the west coast where the interview is taking place.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SeaFoam View Post
    I earned my dues - in fact I think I had it harder off trying to 'live up' to how dad was.. I always explained that I grew up in a public service family, not to get brownie points - to tell them why I wanted to be a FF. That's how it was, as far as i'm concerned there was nothing wrong with saying that, as long as your not coming off like 'well my daddy was a firefighter so i should be one too' attitude.
    It obviously worked for you?

    As Rob and Paul have pointed out it's taking a big risk trying to pull it off. It’s tricky. It’s a balancing act. You're looking for a seamless no surprised interview. All you have to do is offend (**** off) one rater and your score will be adjusted to make sure you won't make the cut. Are you willing to take that risk?

    Captain Bob

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    Default Boy Im I glad thats over.

    First off, thank you all for your advice, it helped out alot. The more I gave it some thought the better I was keeping it all in perspective. But, lets just say I think I will end up being in group F. I really think I tanked it. I think I started out good on the presentation, but once we got down to the question and answer, I studdered, stumbled, got really nervous and after about the 100th "um" I lost track of how many times I said it. It was fun though, definitely a learning experience. I have been to about a 1/2 dozen other civil service interviews so I know what to expect, but it gets me every time.
    I told it from the heart and hopefully they see that. One thing is for sure I would never play poker with those guys, stone cold stares, one didn't even lift his pencil to write everything down.
    Maybe one saving grace is, one of the panel walked me back to the main building, we got to talking and my calm returned so maybe he was able to see the real me come through and not some nervous dork. I should find out in a couple of weeks will let you all know how I did, wish me luck.
    Thank you
    Tony
    P.S. I will get them on the next one.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptBob View Post
    It obviously worked for you?

    As Rob and Paul have pointed out it's taking a big risk trying to pull it off. It’s tricky. It’s a balancing act. You're looking for a seamless no surprised interview. All you have to do is offend (**** off) one rater and your score will be adjusted to make sure you won't make the cut. Are you willing to take that risk?

    Captain Bob
    Yeah it definitly didn't work with that captain that I somehow or another ****ed of at one department. I'm not taking that chance with Chicago - they would be like 'haha, his dad was on a small *** fire department and so was he' most likely.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SeaFoam View Post
    Yeah it definitly didn't work with that captain that I somehow or another ****ed of at one department. I'm not taking that chance with Chicago - they would be like 'haha, his dad was on a small *** fire department and so was he' most likely.
    So....Maybe we were right?

    You can use it as a supporting unit in your career pursit, just not the whole package.
    Last edited by CALFFBOU; 09-28-2007 at 08:20 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FFighterRob View Post
    Not every person on a panel would be offended by saying your father was a firefighter. But if one in 13 people would be, and you have 4 people on your panel, you have a 50% chance one person on your panel would be, why take the chance.


    thats some interesting math

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