Eliminated on Your PBQ – Where’s the Threshold?

Here is a very real situation. You took an online Preliminary Background Questionnaire (PBQ). When you tried to continue, it flashed PERMANENT DISQUALIFICATION! You wonder what the heck happened?

Let’s be clear. The Preliminary Background Questionnaire is designed to eliminate candidates early in the hiring process before they spend lots of time and money on those who they would refuse later. You would be surprised at the percentages of candidates disqualified.

If you have been disqualified, you may have answered correctly, or incorrectly, yes to a question that led to an automatic rejection. Make sure you go back and double-check your answers. This is vital to moving forward in the process.

The million-dollar question is where’s the threshold? Did you answer yes to a question on drug use?  How many times? Did you answer yes to a question on how many times you drove after consuming more than the legal limit of booze? Do you have a driving or criminal record?  Do you have bad credit?

How do you avoid this problem? You learn from your experience. Before you submit any online or printed forms in the future, you double-check your answers for errors and think twice before you step on any land mines that could take you out of the process.

Here is a suggestion. Candidates should lead their lives as if their future consideration of being hired as a firefighter depended upon it. The background packet will indicate if a polygraph test will be offered and required. They say this to ensure that your answers are truthful.

Although juvenile records for minors are generally sealed, the question asked if you have ever been in trouble with the law…..yes or no? I would put it down. If you put no and it is revealed later, you could be out of the process. This is something that should have no effect on you being hired by a department.  What is most important is that you have a reasonable explanation of what happened, and the court found you not guilty.

What I was referring to is if there is no trail, in other words, no one who can they talk to who would know this information. If there was an arrest, a court appearance, and community time there is probably a record of that somewhere. Why open a can of worms by creating one? Volunteering information that was not requested eliminates way too many candidates.

As one candidate wrote: “As for Backgrounds; they tell you to be honest. But sometimes being honest can bite you in the ass. When a Background is being conducted the only obvious things, they could find out are things like driving, criminal, and credit history. Don’t be stupid and write down references that hate you. I’ve known some good people that should be fireman/cops but get disqualified for being too honest. You are a free agent.  Make sure you prepare for the hiring process in a way that will best put you in a position for a badge.”  – Steve

I can’t tell you what to do.  I present the facts and you get to decide.

“Nothing counts ’til you have the badge . . . Nothing!”

Fire Captain Bob