Improving Poor Oral Board Skills

If we have said it once, we have said it a thousand times, your scores on the ORAL BOARD are crucial in landing a firefighter position. And can be 100% of what gets you hired. Here is the million-dollar question.

What are you doing incorrectly that is keeping you from getting hired?

The bottom line is most firefighter candidates don’t have the right interview skills and do not practice enough to become good at interviewing. This is true for any job interview. How are you going to impress the ORAL BOARD panel and convince them that you are the one for this firefighter job? After all, it’s the most misunderstood and least prepared for portion of the firefighter hiring and testing processes.

After sitting in on more than a hundred ORAL BOARDS, I’ve seen many candidates do poorly. It’s clear to me that these firefighter candidates don’t realize how poorly they respond to interview questions. I’ve seen candidates with great credentials falter when it comes to presenting their qualifications at the interview. And if you can’t present yourself well, you don’t get the job…period!  Never! Ever!

If you are doing well on the written and physical agility portions of the test, which are usually pass-fail, and you’re not placing high enough on the ORAL BOARD, then that’s where the problem lies. Most candidates who score low on the ORAL attempt to go back and pack on more credentials thinking that will get them over the hump. They think that they need to finish their degree, certificates, or get through academy training first before reapplying. While these are sound strategies, they do little to improve the skills needed for the ORAL BOARD.

With all due respect to the source of the following comment, this is one of the most important clues to why candidates have trouble with their oral boards:

“I recently had an interview, and I know my answers were great, especially after hearing how another candidate answered them. He made the list, and I did not. Go figure!” – John Doe

It is true that most firefighter candidates believe their answers are great. This problem is compounded when interviewees listen to the answers of other candidates and try to mimic their responses. They become “clones” of one another. This right there is one of the problems. Here is a NUGGET – Try to be original with your answers. You want to convey to the oral board your unique qualities and experience that would benefit the department. After all, it’s a good chance that your competition has not practiced their interview skills, so why would you want to copy their answers?

Candidates who get this far in the process usually feel discouraged and tell me that it seems like they have hit a wall. Some of their friends – even ones with lesser credentials – have been hired. They’re frustrated and embarrassed.

We understand. But let’s move on! Rather than dwelling on frustration, let’s focus on improving your weaknesses. If you have done well in other parts of the testing, poor interview skills are the problem. Our program with it’s time-tested and proven NUGGETS will show you how to shorten the learning curve and close the distance between you and your badge. Like the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz, we are not going to give you anything you don’t already possess. We are just going to show you where it is.

There is a badge out there for you. We will show you how to nail it! Here we go. Let us remind you to keep your hands and feet inside the ride at all times because nothing counts until you have the badge. And we mean nothing!

Fire Captain Bob