A candidate posted a question on a bulletin board asking the best way to approach the common scenario of being given an order on an emergency scene that puts my life, or others in jeopardy that may also go against standard operating procedures.

Someone posted and answer that looked like it came right out of one of the books out there with question and suggested answers.  Turns out it was word for word from one of those books!

My reply: . . . . Too many will use these suggested answers word for word like someone posted here.  If I picked this right up so can other panel members.

Panel members can often tell by the 2nd or third question where the candidate got their answers. A fire academy (where they practice using 3 X 5 cards), college classes, medic school, a book or CD’s. It makes the candidate look and sound like a clone of too many others. We experience this talking to a lot of candidate’s daily and during one on one coaching.

So it’s your second day of 8 days of oral interviews as a panel member. You’re hearing too many candidates with the same answers, sameness, identical answers word for word complete with pauses from the CD’s. You wonder who really owns the information and experience. It can be mind numbing for panel members.

One candidate just told me after taking 11 tests and not getting hired that he felt this type of one size fits all format of using suggested answers was like reading a personal diary. He said he got our Special offer program   3 weeks ago and changed to being more personable, more of who he is and feels unique, fresh or spontaneous. His first interview since he switched he’s made it into the hiring process.

Here’s our son Captain Rob’s take:

Let me put it to you this way. If you read a book that gives you the answers, you are not going to sound like you. You will sound like the person that wrote the book. Not only that, but because you didn’t come up with the answer on your own, what if they ask you to explain your reasoning in doing what you did? You don’t know because it wasn’t your answer.

Another problem could be that if you are quoting answers from a book you read or a person who taught a class, others may be quoting it too. What if you are in the oral interview for you dream department, the one you have waited for your whole life, and after your second response they stop you. They tell you that it is funny but the three people before you have answered every question word for word the same as you, and they want to know if they are going to get to hear your answers or should they just give you the score they gave to others?

I would sure want to be giving my own original answers and not something someone else gave me as their answer. If you can find a way to come up with your own answers the ones already inside you it will also help you if they ask questions that you have never heard before. Because you will have figured out how use your own answers, not look up answers.

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“Captain Bob”