Oral Board Skills: Are You Prepared?

10 October 2020
Capt. Bob Smith

Oral Board Skills: Are You Prepared?

I've been on over 100 oral boards. Believe me too many candidates fall short.  They think they can wing it. They have firefighter friends that have given them mock orals.  Their friends can't bring themselves to tell them how bad they 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 have been number 3 in Seattle, in the top 5 at Ontario, made the cut on the CPS test, waiting for the next call from LA City, and tested in Portland, Chicago, Stockton, Dade County and passed the tough physical agility test in Phoenix to go onto the oral. If you're a medic, you had the advantage of taking more tests.

You have every degree, certificate and merit badge you can get.  A volunteer, paramedic, education, and great experience.  But you're still the bridesmaid.  You don't have the badge.  The guy you thought was the village idiot went through our program and has his chest all puffed out with a badge.

NO!  You're probably not ready.  You've been driving and flying all over the country collecting frequent flyer miles, putting careers on hold, ruining relationships, running out of money and hope, and haven't figured out that with all your education and experience . . . the rubber meets the road in the oral board.  If you can't pass the Job Interview, You don't get the Job!  This is where you putt for dollars.  Even golf pros take lessons.

Haven't you been beat up enough yet?  It's been said that when the student is ready to learn, the teacher appears.  Are you at this point now?  In the articles to follow, we want to help you shortened the learning curve to the closest point between you and the badge.

Ready?  OK, here we go.  Keep your hands and feet inside the ride at all times:

What are you actually doing going to an oral board?  If you answered: selling yourself, making a good impression, and, yes, don't forget to ask for the job are good.  But what you're really doing is auditioning for the part to be a firefighter, engineer, inspector or officer.  Just like the part in a play.  Do you know your lines? Do you know your part?  If you went down to a local college to audition for a part in the community play, you have to know your part and lines, wouldn't you?  Right?  It's the same thing in an oral board.  You have to know what you're going to say before you sit in the chair.

Does a Broadway play start on Broadway?  Of course not.  It starts in Iowa, Miami or Connecticut.  They take it on the road to try it out, work out the script, refine and polish it up.  If they create enough interest, sell enough tickets and get great reviews from the critics, they make it to the bright lights of Broadway.  It's the same in getting ready for your oral boards.  You have to take this puppy on the road to get ready for your oral boards. You have to get your script down.  A script about you, not a clone of someone else. Then, you practice, practice, practice.  Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse until it becomes second nature to you.  Once you do this it will be in your subconscious.  That's where the magic takes place.

Some will say this will be "canned".  No, it sure will be planned though.  Success is where preparation meets opportunity.  The harder I work, the luckier I get.

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