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  • CaptBob
    replied
    Originally posted by dfwfirefighter View Post
    As far as interview prep, there are alot of resources out there and I imagine most of them will tell you, to some degree, much of what I just told you.

    Prepare yourself. Give yourself the chance to be successful in a department that will fulfill your needs and make you happy.

    Good luck.
    Amen to that!

    All you have to do is take a look at the threads about departments hiring being posting on this forum. You don't want to waste any opporutunities when you show up for an oral board. All you have to do is stumble a question or two and you're out of the running; and you won't know why.

    You've spent time and treasure gaining the necessary education and experience to be qualified to test. Doesn't it make sence to prepare in advance for what could be 100% of your score to get hired? That would be the oral board interivew.

    Firehouse.com contributing editor Steve Prziborowski, Battalion Chief, Santa Clara County Fire Department wrote:

    “Do what you have to do be more marketable so you can take more tests and have something more to offer a department, but remember that it all comes down to that 15 to 30 minute oral interview. I’ve seen some awesome candidates with resumes packed full of accomplishments that couldn’t sell themselves in an interview to even make the top 50%.”

    “Being a firefighter is a front row seat for the greatest show on earth!”

    Yes, there is no free lunch. But there are better places to eat.

    You can find some key "Nugget" oral board information in this previous thread: http://www.firehouse.com/forums/showthread.php?t=117336

    Leave a comment:


  • SFAlumberjack
    replied
    Thanks alot, DFW. I put my transcripts in the mail today for Dallas, so hopefully I can use some of your advice.

    Leave a comment:


  • GrigsVI
    replied
    Perfect advice, I am an aspiring firefighter and have had the privilege to test and interview with three different departments. In my first experience I walked proudly into this exact trap, the question arose ...What do you know about this department?? And unfortunately I drew a total blank, like all great firefighters you must learn from your mistakes and it payed off to stroll into my second interview with an ample supply of knowledge on the department and it's structure. Everything from how many apparatus what kind, station information, high ranking officials and even history of the department. This information granted me a cjo. And when all the marbles were on the table for my dream department this information proved to be one of the small gems that set you apart from other candidates. The question came around and I was able to provide information that members of the panel were not even aware of. Remember research is what sets you apart and Google along with station visits allow you to be the best candidate. It's also very important to critique and learn from your mistakes in order to get the job.

    Leave a comment:


  • LR
    replied
    It's all about station visits and practice interviews. You have to do as much preparation as you can, because the competition is almost always extremely high. Paul Lepore has a good book. Also, check out these sites for help:
    http://www.eatstress.com/thirty22.htm
    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/firef...408513273?mt=8

    But really, you should be asking for guidance from the firefighters and captains who work at the agency you're applying to.

    Leave a comment:


  • dfwfirefighter
    replied
    Originally posted by SFAlumberjack View Post
    What exactly are the basics we need to know about a department/city? During an interview that I did not get chosen I was first asked why I want to be a firefighter, and then why for that city? I definitely stumbled with the second part and didn't know how truthful to be here. What I mean is that a major reason I was testing with this dept. is the pay and benefits and proximity to my home town. Should I ignore the fact that they have great pay and benefits, during an interview?
    Information that I'd consider the "basics" are what the department does. What is their organizational structure? What are the career options for someone in this department (fire suppression, EMS, fire investigation, inspections, and etc.)? What is their call/run volume? What are the pay and benefits? Most of this information is available via a department's website.

    Once, you've figured out the basics, probe a little deeper if you like what you see. Visit some fire stations and see what the day-to-day operations are like. Request an annual report and see what the city and/or fire department's priorities are (this is usually indicated by where alot of their budget money is going aside from payroll and benefits). If you don't live there, visit the area and see if you like where you think you want to work. If you have a family, make they are on board with what you want to do. Look at schools, jobs for your spouse, and etc. See if the wage you will earn (if hired) will support the lifestyle you want for your family.

    Another option is to contact firefighter associations and see what the current issues are for that department. Look in the phone book and call them and tell them you were considering applying for their fire department and wanted to talk to someone about what's going on (i.e. current issues). Most of the time, these folks will be happy to tell you the good, bad, and the ugly. Take it at face value and don't bring it up when you visit fire stations. The last thing a prospective candidate needs is appear to be a whiner or complainer. You may hear or see things at firehouse that may confirm, clarify, or detail conversations amongst the firefighters.

    Make sure that any discussions you have with firefighters at a station, HR or recruiters, or employee groups portrays you as an eager person who is trying to gather information to make the best decision you can about a career in their fire department.

    Also, look at the city's website and look at their budget briefings. This will also indicate any potential money issues with regards to hiring (and layoffs).

    Are you being hired with SAFER Grant funding? Personally, that is a huge red flag to me until proven otherwise (in today's economy). Basically, the organization hiring you must eventually foot the entire bill for folks hired by SAFER Grant money. There are many cities declining these grants because they either know or predict that they will not be able to pay their end of the deal per the guidelines. That is not good for anyone who's position exists because of that. Again, research can help predict this.

    Look at their promotional process. How is it structured? Is it seniority-based or test-based? Is there an assessment center involved? Is there any litigation pending due to it?

    With regards to the questions about "why" you wanted to work for a particular city, that is a question YOU must formulate based on your desires. There are alot of fire interview prep people out there who can personally coach you with regards to this. From what you've told me, you wanted to work for XYZ Fire Department because they were close to home and paid well. There is a good answer in there with regards to being close to home but the pay/benefits part is a slippery slope.

    I'd key in on the fact that being close to home is important to you (and your family if applicable) and that the XYZ Fire Department provides the opportunity to be close to home and pays a fair wage. I'd also throw in some personal details to give that answer a personal spin. Again, a fire service interview prep person can do that easily. The one thing you do NOT want to do is protray yourself a someone coming "here" solely because of the money. To me, that tells me that the moment one of the suburbs or someone else pays you a dollar more per hour, you'll leave (and take all of the training and experience with you).

    Good, bad, or indifferent, alot of what goes into a candidate being hired is impressions you make (good and bad) during the hiring process. Oftentimes, you do not know who will be on this panel and it could likely be someone you've met in the fact-finding or hiring process.

    Be nice, make eye contact and shake hands, answer "yes, sir/ma'am" and "no sir/ma'am" and think before you say or act at every step along the way.

    Leave a comment:


  • SFAlumberjack
    replied
    What are the "basics"?

    What exactly are the basics we need to know about a department/city? During an interview that I did not get chosen I was first asked why I want to be a firefighter, and then why for that city? I definitely stumbled with the second part and didn't know how truthful to be here. What I mean is that a major reason I was testing with this dept. is the pay and benefits and proximity to my home town. Should I ignore the fact that they have great pay and benefits, during an interview?

    Originally posted by PaulC. View Post
    DFW-

    Great Story and help!

    If you don't know the basics about the department you're applying for...You're not even in the top 50% of the field.

    Every candidate must consider these for their Oral Board Interviews:

    1. Questions about yourself.
    2. Questions about the fire service career.
    3. Questions about the department/municipality/surrounding areas.
    4. Scenarios that include: moral hazard, danger, drugs/etoh, and following orders.

    Best,
    Paul C.

    Leave a comment:


  • JayDudley
    replied
    Interviews

    As one has also sat on both sides of the table....all of the info has been great. I must also remind those who take the Oral portion of any exam to think first before you answer. When you do answer ...answer the question asked and do not elaborate or answer more than asked. If you do you open the door for more follow-up questions and you might be headed down a road you prefer not to go down.
    I had a candidate have a vapor lock on a simple question of..."What is your shoe size.?"
    He later asked "Why did I get asked that question.?" I replied...just to know what size shoe we needed to order for you if and when you start. Needless to say he never was hired.

    Leave a comment:


  • PaulC.
    replied
    DFW-

    Great Story and help!

    If you don't know the basics about the department you're applying for...You're not even in the top 50% of the field.

    Every candidate must consider these for their Oral Board Interviews:

    1. Questions about yourself.
    2. Questions about the fire service career.
    3. Questions about the department/municipality/surrounding areas.
    4. Scenarios that include: moral hazard, danger, drugs/etoh, and following orders.

    Best,
    Paul C.

    Leave a comment:


  • LegendaryPunk
    replied
    Common sense is not always common

    Good advice for firefighters...or any other interview for that matter. You'd think people in this line of work would understand the importance of being fully prepared ahead of time, but that is not always the case.

    Thanks for taking the time to give us some tips!

    Leave a comment:


  • Hopeful_FF
    replied
    Thank you for taking the time to write this out. Although it's common sense (for most of us), it never hurts to hear how important proper preparation is.

    Leave a comment:


  • dfwfirefighter
    started a topic Interview Suggestion

    Interview Suggestion

    I've had the honor (?) of sitting on several interview panels/boards in my department. One piece of advice I can make, having sat on both sides of the table in my career, is to do a little homework and know some basic, fundamental information about the department you are interviewing with.

    For example, if the department you are applying for expects you to perform as a cross-trained firefighter/paramedic for a substantial part of your career, that is extremely relevant to both you and your interview panel.

    With regards to you, YOU need to know what you are getting into and what is expected of you. Wouldn't it be a let down to test, test, and test for a department, get hired by them, only to realize once you get out to a station that what you wanted and what the department wanted are two separate, fundamentally-different things?

    With regards to the interview panel, THEY need to know that YOU understand and are aware of what will be expected of you.

    For example, on a fairly recent interview panel I sat on, I had a promising young candidate stick his foot right in his mouth about the half-way mark of the interview. My department requires all new-hires to be cross-trained as paramedics. When another panel-member asked the candidate what he thought about being cross-trained as a paramedic, the candidate replied that he wanted nothing to do with EMS and that he had dreamed about being the best "truck" man he could possibly be. It became obvious very quickly that this candidate had not done his homework with regards to our department. I then asked him to tell me about the day-to-day life, as he knew it, of a firefighter in our department. A long story short, he had no idea that we required our folks to become paramedics. Additionally, he told the panel (for about five minutes) how much he disliked EMS and wanted to be a FIREfighter. The look on his face once we told him that EMS would be a key component of his career told me (and everyone else) that this guy was not a good fit for our department.

    The bottom line is this - Do your research. Ask questions ahead of time. Stop by fire stations in the town in which you want to apply and see first-hand what goes on. Is the department what you want? More importantly, do YOU fit the department?

    As far as interview prep, there are alot of resources out there and I imagine most of them will tell you, to some degree, much of what I just told you.

    Prepare yourself. Give yourself the chance to be successful in a department that will fulfill your needs and make you happy.

    Good luck.
    Last edited by dfwfirefighter; 02-01-2011, 06:18 PM.

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