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Basic Oral Board Questions

I believe there are only about 30 oral board questions, plus or minus a couple.  But these 30 can be disguised into hundreds of different questions.

Here is a simple way to break a disguised question down.  Dissect the question down to its simplest term, one word, that says what the question is really about.  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 uncomplicated the oral board process.

Here is the list of the "Thirty Plus 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 this 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 describe 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?

In reference to the above, several candidates have called me about the following question: You're a firefighter and the guys in the station want to you to participate with them to play a joke on the female firefighter. What do you do?

Many candidates have said, "Well these kinds of jokes are part of being a firefighter, or we are a family; it's expected, or depending how bad the joke is, or I've played jokes on others before, etc."

Let's go back to the original formula on this page. Dissect the question down to its simplest form to one or two words. What is the core purpose of this question? Take off the disguise and you will have one of the questions from the 30 plus oral board list above.

Have you got it?

It's . . . . SEXUAL HARASSMENT!

Many of the candidates screamed out loud when they finally figured out the real purpose of the question. Too many gave a poor answer.

Now what's your answer?

This is a simple tool to uncomplicate the process. There are only about 30 oral board questions. They can be disguised in hundreds of different ways. 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.

One of my candidates, Ed, called that he is in the academy at Seattle. The day he thought would never come did! Overnight he doubled his income, moved into a new house and loves every minute of the job he had dreamed about for years.

There are only 30 questions. What are your answers? Take the question apart, know the real purpose of the question and deliver your "Nugget" answer. Next question please.

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

In reference to the above I received this question:

I'm not trying to be cheeky, this is a serious reply. Would the Board ever ask the question in reverse? Meaning would they ask a female candidate if they would participate in a joke on a male candidate? If yes, would they be looking for the candidate to reply no, that it would be sexual harassment? Would it be appropriate for either gender to say they would participate,
distinguishing that only if the joke would not be of a nature that may be sexual harassment? This issue is very important in my city, because they are on the verge of hiring the first female firefighter. Not only do male candidates want to make it understood that they are able to work with females in this environment, likewise I would not want to appear as if I
was concerned about this type of scenario or uncomfortable and
oversensitive about the cajoling that goes on.

"Captain Bob's" reply:  Subject: Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment questions are the most dangerous of oral board areas. It's a can of worms you don't want to open. If you do, you will never be able to close the can. You need to keep your answers short and simple here. Otherwise, you will tank yourself big time. It has nothing to do with which gender, it's how it's interpreted by the person that is offended.

Fantasyland:

The oral interview is like fantasyland. 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 fantasyland better will get the badge. So, please follow
the yellow brick road rules in fantasyland and don't look behind the curtain.

You don't think so? Well, my Son's captain was on an oral board for five days. One candidate got top scores. When they were finished and completing their comments and scores, this candidate said, "I'm sure glad that's over."  They said yea, O.K. He said because they're coming. They look up and said,  "Who's coming?" He said, "The Martian's are coming."  They chuckled. He got mad. Turns out that this guy was a genuine kook. But he did so well in the oral because he lived in fantasyland and knew the rules. Don't ever forget this! It's a true story!

So in this fantasyland environment, sexual harassment is not tolerated. If you try to draw a line at cajoling, where does it stop? At sarcastic comments, physical contact? You will open a can of worms trying to make everyone happy. You could express how an easygoing person you are, but sexual harassment is not tolerated. Again, the person who is offended determines that.  Male or female. It's the LAW! There are personnel rules to protect you.

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 and then take action in fantasyland. Don't be like so many candidates by starting a soap opera.

Example:

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. 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.

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