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Mock Orals

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  • Mock Orals

    Because everyone seems to become an expert once they are hire, I’m not a big believer in mock orals, unless a person is keeping up with oral boards. I know you or someone you know have friends and some are firefighters and they have offered you mock orals. Or, your fire academy, college program or a paramedic college offers you the chance for a mock oral complete with videotape. Candidates in these programs practice with oral board flash cards. Play the game of you show me yours and I will show you mine answers. This only cements most if not all the candidates into a clone of everyone else. And you thought you were unique?

    You have firefighter friends that have given you mock orals. Your friends can't bring themselves to tell you how bad you are. You know other candidates who have all the answers. If they had all the answers, they would already have the badge in a city that paid well.

    I know you don’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth, but if you’re offered a mock oral ask yourself, “How many oral boards have these guys been on? Have they been on their departments oral boards, ever? Any oral boards outside their department? How long since their last oral board?” I know an instructor who taught the oral board skills at a community college and his department until recently had never given an oral board and to my knowledge he had never sat on one. Go figure.

    You can certainly gain exposure and experience of the oral board setting with mock orals. But be cautious on what information is given. Can these friends tell you how bad you really are? Could you tell your friends? Probably not. Add to the experience that you might not be getting the correct information you came for. This is what happened recently:

    Watch Out For the Free Advice

    I'm on a department in Washington

    Well it finally happened, after all these years of hearing things firefighter candidates have said in interviews, that some expert has told them was the right thing to do, I hear it first hand. I was sitting in the office of the fire station were I was working, the engineer’s son had a friend testing for our department and he wanted him to talk to our firefighter, the newest guy on.

    I’m sitting there, and from the other room I hear him recommend that this guy tell the board that he wants to be a firefighter because the pay is good and there are lots of days off. Now I’m waiting for them to laugh, and tell him they’re kidding. It doesn’t happen. The engineer has been on for 26 years, and hasn’t had an interview for 19 years. The new guy was a lateral medic, and didn’t have much of an entry interview. So I can see how this poor guy can be thinking, he’s in a fire station for the department he’s testing for, and he’s got a guy with many years on, and a guy who was the last one hired. He must be getting the straight scoop. He was getting the exact opposite. He had signed up for the “How To Fail An Oral Board" class, and he didn’t know it.

    As I walked into the room, I couldn’t let this go, the new guy was telling him that a good weakness to share with the board is that you’re a perfectionist. Now I’ve worked around perfectionists and it’s no walk in the park, they think they don’t do anything right, and neither do you.

    The candidate was Hispanic, and I asked him if he spoke Spanish. He told me he spoke a little and could understand a little more. I asked him if that might not be his weakness, that while he spoke some Spanish, it needed improvement. He bought some language tapes on the way home from the station, so he could demonstrate he was doing something to fix the problem.

    Now I find myself arguing with the new guy about what the best response is to why you want to be a firefighter. His theory was the board really wants to know why you want to be a firefighter. Trust me on this one, We Don’t Care if you like the hours, pay, and status the job will bring you. You need to tailor your responses to match what the board is looking for, not what you feel, save that for your girlfriend. But you can take those things that motivated you to become a firefighter, and make a beautiful response to this question, and then it's your story.

    I worked with this same guy, the expert new guy, again the other day. I mentioned to him that I thought his responses were about the worst I'd heard. He said, "Yeah, I've always been lousy at oral interviews." I asked him why he was giving advice and he said, "Well, everyone keeps sending people to me because I'm the new guy, so I figured I'd try to help." I told him he was, if anything hurting their chances, not helping, and he agreed.

    Know this. There are people out there who know their bad, but will still give you advice because you asked.

    "Nothing counts 'til you have the badge . . . Nothing!"

    Fire "Captain Bob"

    Call Now Thousands are now firefighters after using our program of proven time-tested inside secrets gained from over 40 years of experience " This program is dedicated to those who possess the burning desire to acquire a firefighter badge and become one of

    "Nothing counts 'til you have the badge . . . Nothing!"

    More Tips on getting hired and promoted by Firehouse Contributing Author Fire “Captain Bob” Articles here:

    Fire "Captain Bob"


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