The average oral board is 20 minutes. If you have 5
questions, that gives you 4 minutes for each question
and answer. Add on an opening and closing (which are
not usually scored) and you will have less time for your
answers. Your longest answer will probably be what have
you done to prepare for this position.
Candidates donít have time to deliver long, over kill,
salvo drop, clone answers that drives most oral board
panel members nuts anyway. I have been on panels where
we either zoned out with these answers that went into
minute detail or we just cut off the candidate, probably
before they delivered the good stuff for their answer,
and went on to the next question.
There are some oral boards where the session is being
timed. If you donít move along, you wonít get a chance
to answer all of the questions to get your best
score. If you have all these questions that go on and
on and end by trailing off somewhere in left field, you
might want to reconsider your position. I asked a
candidate in a coaching session the opening question,
Tell us a little about yourself? Fourteen minutes
later we were somewhere in Montana. I said,
Youíve just used up 14 minutes of a 20 minute oral, what
do you think we have time for now?
Another candidate did a great job in a coaching session
but didnít stop adding on more to his answers before his
next interview. When the panel asked him what he knew
about the City of San Jose, he went on and on (yes, one
of the panel member told me this) ending with telling
them how many convention hotel rooms they had in the
city. Yep, thatís the person we want to hire that will
drive everyone in the station crazy. We already have
enough of those.
Instead of just keeping it simple, often candidates
complicate and over analyze the question until they get
analysis paralysis. They ask anyone that will stand
still long enough what they think. You end up sounding
like a canned "Clone".
Candidates need to be prepared to field the question
presented, get their top score, satisfy the oral board
and move onto the next question. Why give the panel a
blue print, when we they just need a sketch. Why give
us a dump truck, when we just need a trailer?
Thatís why itís so important to be practicing with a
tape recorder to get your timing, inflection, volume,
where to cut out material on those long drawn out
answers, and find out if you really sound like Donald
I was schedule for a half an hour interview with the
board, they presented them self's and I shook there
hands firmly with confidence. They asked me 6
questionsí, they where worded a little bit different
from what I was studying in your tapes' but after I took
off the disguise it was the same point! I answered them,
but I had little stumbles here and there. What worried
me was that when I came out of the room there where
couple of there city firefighter's with stunned face's
and I was wondering why" and then I looked at my watched
and saw that I was only in there for about ten to
fifteen minutes... I'm freaking out here Bob"" What do
you think are short interview's good or bad? Thanksíí
It is not unusual to for candidates to stumble a few
words in their oral board. The raters expect it.
If you had personalized answers for the base line of
possible oral questions, practiced faithfully with a
tape recorder to hear what the oral board was going to
hear out of your mouth, delivered "Nugget" answers, it
is not uncommon to get out of an oral board quickly with
just 6 questions. And, don't psych yourself out by
thinking their firefighters were stunned. You probably
Don't worry until its time to worry. It's not time to
This candidate did indeed nail it and got his badge!
"Nothing counts 'til you have the badge . . . Nothing!"
Fire "Captain Bob"
Author, book Becoming A Firefighter--The Complete Guide to Your Badge!
Ask "Captain Bob" Any