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Poor Oral Board Skills

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  • Poor Oral Board Skills

    Most candidates do poorly on their oral boards. The problem is most of them don't know how poorly their doing. I've seen it too often after being on over 100 oral boards. It's the most misunderstood and least prepared portion of the testing.

    With all respect to Jed's following comment, this is one of the most important clues why candidates have trouble in their oral boards:

    "I recently had an interview, and I know my answers were great, especially after
    hearing how another candidate answered them. He made the list, and I did not.. Go figure!" Jed

    This is the problem! Most candidates think their answers are great, when they aren't. If their answers were as great as they thought, they would make the list and get a badge. When candidates do poorly in an oral board, they blame other's and add more credentials. Then, they still do poorly because they have done little or nothing to improve their oral board skills. They listen to other candidates and firefighters who make them into clones. Once a person becomes a firefighter, they are instantly the experts on how to get hired.

    The following is a true story. You don't know this person:

    If the village idiot can get hired, you can get a badge too! That's right! We had a candidate who was a volunteer taking his third test to be hired as a paid member. When this guy was out of town, the village didn't have an idiot.

    We literally held him together with crazy clue. Guess what? He got hired. The next week, he made this posting on a bulletin board, "I will show you how to get a firefighter job." The village idiot had become the expert over night on how to get hired. I couldn't believe what I was reading.

    If you don't gain the needed skills to do better in your orals, nothing is going to change to get that badge. If it can work for the village idiot, it will certainly work for you.

    "Stop looking in the magnifying glass at other's . . . and start looking in the mirror at your self. That's where the problem is."

    "Nothing counts 'til you have the badge . . . absolutely nothing! Ask the village idiot.

    "Captain Bob"

  • #2
    Interesting! - I was third on the list of the three people being interviewed when I was hired. After the interview, I was first!

    Captain Bob is right, the oral interview is very important. At my interview it was the first time they tried the "pressure" interview. The "pressure" interview has the "good cop, bad cop" set up and the bad cop tries to get you to break down. I walked in the room and knew what it was by the seating arrangement. They weren't very good at it, and I had no problem.

    The other two candidates were bothered and upset by the process - thus, I was hired. Learn what interview techniques are, be ready for them and you will be successful.

    BTW - I'm not the village idiot - but I've worked with 'em!

    Captain Bob - why did you start this thread? Any certain situation set you off? Too many village idiots getting jobs? Good thread!


    • #3
      Hi Captain Bob. a question for you, where does a person learn how to be better at the oral boards. There has to be some one out there who helps people. You are right about some people thinking they are purfect, and they take that idea into the room with people with more time on the job and it shows what kind of idiot they realy are. You are right, when I was testing for the job, I only thought about the oral boards when they were the only thing left to do, it hurt me some but when it was all over I was first to be hired.

      Have a good day and be safe.

      Local 3905


      • #4
        In Atlanta we have to take a written exam and a oral interview to be promoted . Only the top 50 go to the oral portion of the exam. I know of several people whom placed in the top 10 after the written test and then fell off the map after the oral portion. I finished the written exam No.3 , and started to worry about the oral board. My 30 year vet Captain brought in his video cam,and asked me 5 easy questions.I thought I nailed them,he turned off the camera and said "you just failed". I looked at the tape and realized that I wouldent make eye contact and all of my answers had long pauses in them, I sounded like I was unsure and full of @$&* !!! He gave me some really easy tips: Make eye contact, be direct and to the point,short and sweet.Dont bull****.
        I finished No.4 out of 150 .Practice these skills and you can not go wrong.


        • #5
          LT Todd, I like the idea of the camera, this way you can see how good or how bad you are doing. Wish I have tryed using one. Have a good one.

          Local 3905


          • #6
            Using a video camera is good. You need to see how you look. But you are trapped with a video camera. You need to get married to a tape recorder!

            I received a call this morning from a candidate. He has made it to a few oral boards and one chiefs oral without success. He has been invited to the San Diego oral. In just a few moments I was aware of something critical. Then I asked him if he were using a tape recorder to practice? Like most people, he himmed and hawwwed and finally said, "Well, no. But, I'm thinking about it."

            Even though I've hammered the point home that you have to use a tape recorder and hear how you sound. He still didn't get the message. His answers were garbage. I don't get it. You folks want this job so bad you say you will do almost anything ethically and morally to get it. I guess that doesn't include using a tape recorder to get your timing, inflection, volume, where to cut out material, and find out if you really sound like Donald Duck. You need to get married to your hand-held tape recorder. You need to hear what the oral board is going to hear from you. It's the closest distance between you and the badge you're looking for! The first thing candidates say when they listen hear themselves on a tape recorder is, "That isn't me!" Yes it is McFly.

            This is usually a guy thing. Guys think about their answers in their head and write them down. Then they think their answers are going to come out of their mouths like magic in the oral. Trust me, after being on over 100 oral boards, they don't!

            The above San Diego candidate has already lost some great opportunities. Had he been faithfully using a tape recorder to prepare for his oral boards, he probably could have had a badge already.

            Some will say, "Well, if I practice it too much it will sound canned." NO it won't! It sure will be planned though. Practice makes permanent. "Luck is where preparation meeting opportunity." One practice session with a tape recorder is worth 10 speaking out louds. After practicing, you will get to a point where your answers will get into your subconscious. That's where the magic begins. You can't be fooled.

            Everyone has butterfly's in an oral board. The trick is getting all the butterfly's to fly in the same formation that can make the difference. Practicing will remove up to 75% of the butterfly's. You want the other 25% to carry you through the interview.

            Be advised that your competition knows the value of using a tape recorder. They are catapulting past you if you're not using one too. Because if you can't pass the oral board, or score high enough and the list, you don't get the job. Never! Ever! Ever! Now, where's your tape recorder?

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

            "Captain Bob"


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