Here's my background (since I'm new here).

I work for a 1000+ personnel agency in Southern California.
I've been a Union Vice President for 10+ years.
A Captain for 5 years.
A background investigator for 2 years.
I've sat on hundreds of interview panels for firefighter, paid call firefighter, seasonal, reserve, engineer, and captains for several different agencies.
I've taught fire science topics at three different Community colleges.
I meet 4-5 times a week with individuals interested in career planning.

Here is some tips to succeed:

1) Become a goal oriented person.
-write out yearly, monthly, and daily goals.
- Ensure that your goals are SMART Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic and have a Time Frame.
2) Study for oral interviews.
-You do not study for oral interviews by taking "Mock Orals". Mock Orals are only a "quiz" to see how well you are prepared for the final exam (the interview!)
- There are a few people on this forum with good interview advice. Use them. A good person to learn oral interview techniques is the person who has conducted and performed in hundreds of oral interviews, has studied public speaking, and who knows current fire issues (the hot topics!) There are way to many people out there who try to teach oral interviews skills based on their one or two experiences.
- You do not study for orals in one day. Or two days. Or even a week. It takes a lot of thought. Did you learn fire science in one day?
- There are only FOUR types of questions they can ask you: You, Situational, Knowledge based, and Department/Community based. I can ask about 400 questions...but they all fall into those four categories.
3) Do not lie to yourself....EVER!
Be honest with who you are. Know your strengths. Know your Weaknesses. Address your Weaknesses by establishing goals and determining a plan to correct them!
4) Do not lie to others...EVER
-Sure fire way to fail a background is to lie or mislead the investigator. I recently had an applicant lie on his "pre-employment" questionnaire. Please note that background investigators will be checking out everything you say and write for accuracy. This is the "investigator" part of the job. The funny thing is that this candidate would not have failed if he had just told the truth!