Oral Board Scenario: Questions

May 16, 2003
Dissect the question down to its simplest term, one word, of what the question is really about.

Do you think you have what it takes to answer situation questions correctly?....answer these following questions.(in less that an hour).

What would you do as a rookie FF? Your Captain asks you to come inside his office to review your final evaluation of probation. When you notice a smell of alcohol on his breath?


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 below.

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 don't 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 of 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 it's 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 don't 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!

Fantasy land:

The oral interview is like fantasy land. It is not like the real world. Your answers in the oral board might not be what you would do in real life. Don't fall into the trap. The board understands the rules. You can't fool them. If you try, the board will crank up the music and let you dance your fool head off. Don't try to intellectualize and bring heavy logic to this process. If you do, someone, who understands the rules in fantasy land better will get the badge. So, please follow the yellow brick road rules in fantasy land and don't look behind the curtain.

Here's 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. Don't 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. Don't 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, it's going to be about drinking on the job. If it's a question that sounds like taking drugs on the job, it's going to be about taking drugs on the job; It's not going to be aspirin. If the question sounds like it's about stealing on the job, it's going to be about stealing on the job. If they fire up a question that sounds like sexual harassment, that's what it's going to be about, or they wouldn't 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 and then take action in fantasy land. Don't be like so many candidates by starting a soap opera.

Here is the list of the "Thirty Plus Oral Board Questions":

Thirty-Plus Basic Oral Board Questions

1. Tell us about yourself.2. Why do you want to be a firefighter? When did you decide on this career?3. What is the job of a firefighter? Are you qualified?4. What have you done to prepare for this position?5. What are you bringing to the job?6. Why do you want to work for this city or agency?7. What do you know about his city or agency?8. What do you like to do? What are your hobbies?9. What are your strengths? Weaknesses?10. What would your employer say about you?11. What are the attributes of a firefighter? What is the most important one to you?

How Would You Handle the Following Scenarios?

12. Drinking or drugs on the job?13. Stealing on the job?14. Conflict with another employee?15. Irate citizen?16. An employee crisis at an emergency?17. Sexual harassment?18. Racial situation?19. Conflicting orders at an emergency?20. An order that could place you in great danger or be morally wrong?21. What do you say when you don't know an answer to a question?22. Are you on any other hiring lists? What would you do if another city called you?23. When can you start if we offered you the job?24. How far do you want to go in the fire service? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?25. What are the quality traits of a firefighter? Which one is the most important to you?26. Have you ever been in an emergency situation? Tell us what you did?27. What word would best describes you in a positive way? A negative way?28. How do you handle conflict?29. Why would we select you over the other candidates?30. Do you have anything to add?

It's your job to take off the disguise and find the real question and have a "Nugget" answer to satisfy the oral board, get your best score on the answer and cause the board to go onto the next question.

This "Nugget" tool is one of several that can separate you from number 40 and below on a list to between 1 and 10 where you get a shot at the badge. You'll know the difference when the call comes in to go to the Chief's oral. It can happen quicker than you can imagine.

Absolutely nothing counts 'til you have the badge. Nothing!

How would you like to get ahead of the curve with the cutting edge interview skills to get that badge? Then you want to sign up to receive Fire "Captain Bob's" exclusive information rich FREE e-mail FireZine Newsletter by clicking here.Fire "Captain Bob" Smith has coached countless entry-level and promotional candidates to get their badge. Over 2,000 candidates have received their badges from this program. He is a retired, 28-year veteran firefighter from Hayward, Calif. Captain Bob is a well-known speaker, author of the audio/video program "Conquer the Job Interview" and the books "Eat Stress For Breakfast" and "Fire Up Your Communication Skills." He is a member of the prestigious National Speakers Association. You can book him as a speaker or get a copy of his books and tapes by calling toll free at 888-238-3959. E-mail: [email protected] or Web site: www.eatstress.com
About the Author

Bob Smith | Magazine Staff

Fire "Captain Bob" Smith has helped countless entry level and promotional candidates gain their badges. He is a retired 28-year Hayward, California Captain, speaker/author of the CD/DVD programs "Conquer the Job Interview," "It's Your Turn in the Hot Seat!," the books, "Becoming a Firefighter-The Complete Guide to Your Badge," "Fire Up Your Communication Skills" and "Eat Stress For Breakfast," which have been translated in 24 countries including South Korea, Latin America and China. He is a coach, publisher, author, and a rater on job interviews.

"Captain Bob" has gained experience from more than 175 oral boards. To date over 2,300 candidates have received their badges from his program. He uses simple tools to uncomplicate the process.

He incorporates his own experience gained from three successful start-up businesses, a 41-year marriage (29 years that were good according to his wife), education, and 20 of research. To learn more about his dynamic programs, services, newsletter and more than 250 pages of proven tips and free information visit his website at www.EatStress.com.

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