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First Impressions in the Fire Service Testing Process

How long do you think you have in an oral board to impress the raters into listening to you? You have 32 seconds. In that first 32 seconds the board is checking out what you're wearing (the strongest non-verbal statement you can make), eye contact, choice or words and what signature stories you start with to hook the panel into listening to you.

The first oral board question could be, "What sparked your interest and why do you want to be a firefighter?" You proceed by giving the same clone answers the oral board has heard from almost every candidate for five days. Public service, giving back to the community, helping people, camaraderie, etc. The magic 32 seconds has passed and you have not made the impression you needed to make. Take the time to develop a unique answer and make sure your appearance is pleasing to the older generation. NO JEWALRY AND COVER THE TATTOS!!!

Courtesy of Bryan Hurley @ ©2002

Chatting or Handouts

Generally handing out material in an entry level oral is not a good idea because it upsets the normal flow of the interview and takes up too much time. The review panel probably won't read them anyway. The time to have this material read is before you walk into the room. Have it placed with your application before the day of the test. Don't Chitty Chat! You don't have enough time to chitty chat. I would be careful chatting after your interview. You might say something that you weren't prepared for or something that could hurt you. You are applying for a rookie position. If you came across as too familiar, it could work against you. Explaining past work history like Vol. work/Reserves/Paid call/etc doesn't give you any time in this situation. In fact it can give you false impressions that it can give you an advantage. The reviewers are not your friends. They are looking for reasons to eliminate.
Fire Captain Bob Smith, speaker/author of "Conquer the Job Interview." To order books and tapes call toll free at 888-238-3959

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