Six Steps in Answering an Oral Board Question

22 May 2020
Capt. Bob Smith

There are Six Steps in Answering an Oral Board Question

 You should have a script that you have rehearsed with a tape recorder of anticipated questions by the time of your oral board. At the interview use these six simple steps in answering an oral board question:

  1. Actively listen to the entire question. I have seen candidates stop listening when they think they already have the answer. They don't.  Listen!
  2. Make sure you understand the question. If not, have the question repeated or rephrased.
  3. Pause and gather your thoughts. It might seem like an eternity, but pausing is an acceptable tactic to show interviewers you are paying attention.  During the pause, you can figure out the root of what they are asking.
  4. Ask the question or make the statement to clarify the question. The question might be, "You see your partner pick up something at an emergency scene, what are you going to do?"  Taking the question down to its basic form, what is the issue?  Stealing.  Then, formulate a simple answer. For example, you might say, "I would ask, 'Is that yours?'"  The board is going to tell you that he is taking it, but you already scored the points. After asking the question, you determine your partner is stealing, then what do you do?  Since stealing is an ethical issue and he won't put it back, you might say, "Why don't we go the our supervisor?"  Why?  Stealing is against the law.
  5. KISS. Keep it simple sweetie. Don't start a soap opera. Most candidates complicate the process. They intellectualize their answers, run past the question, decide an answer before hearing the entire question and fail to understand the process.

When my son, Rob, was interviewing for his entry-level position for a large department, he was asked, "You have just finished your interview and go outside and find a man down on the sidewalk. What would you do?" He answered, "I would go up and say, 'Buddy, are you all right?'"  The raters threw Pens and Pencils in the air and said, "Someone finally got the answer right.”  For three days, job candidates were saying things like "Activate the 9-1-1 system" and "I know CPR."

  1. Deliver the Nugget answer with enthusiasm! Your personalized Nugget answer will set you apart from the clones.

A word to women. You have the advantage of bringing more feelings and emotions to your answers at an interview.  Be careful can't be like a conversation with your girl friend.  You have about 20 minutes to give complete but concise answers. I've had women at interviews start talking and it was like going on a journey.  There seemed to be no final destination.  Most men on the panel were not packed for the trip.

We would like to thank Capt Bob Smith for his article and insight.  More information on his programs can be found here.