How Long Can You Tread Water?
And the badge goes to?
Many don’t know what goes on behind the scoring scene
during and after your interview. I hope this recent e-mail will shed
I took the oral interview with LA City and wanted to
write a quick note.
As you have said before oral board is the most important step in the
process and the step that is least prepared for. Well I can support
your statement. As I watched the recording of my score (reading upside
down) I noticed 60's and 70's on the scores of those that interviewed
before me. I would assume there were about 25 names on the sheet prior
to mine. Again the methods you teach do work.
I want to thank you for the information and tools that you have
supplied me with in your Program. It
worked I scored a 90 and
hired on with LA City. Thanks again for your
With all respect to the following comment,
this is one of the most important clues why candidates have trouble in their
"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!" Jed.
This is the problem! Most candidates think
their answers are great, when they aren't. If their answers were as great as
they thought, they would make the list and get a badge. They listen to other
candidates and firefighters who make them into clones. Have you noticed,
that once a person becomes a firefighter, they're instantly the experts on
how to get hired?
It's got to be
frustrating. But if you're passing the written and agility,
which are usually pass/fail, and you're not placing high enough on the oral,
that's where the problem exists. What most candidates do if they don't place
high enough on the oral is go back and try to pack on more credentials. “Oh,
I have to finish my degree or get through that academy” They do little to
nothing in gaining the skills for the oral board, which is usually 100% of
the score. If you don't do anything to improve your oral board skills
nothing is going to change, you will never, ever see that badge. The oral
board is for all the marbles. This is where the rubber meets the road.
Stop looking in the magnifying glass at others
. . . and start looking in the mirror at your self. That's where the problem
there are times in the pursuit of a firefighter position when candidates
have doubts if they’re going to make it especially after not being
successful after several attempts. I know some get
bummed along the way.
Sometimes candidates get stuck in the journey trying to gain their
badges. Candidates who get this far in the process
usually get discouraged and tell me they feel like they have hit a wall.
They don't know what to do next. Some of their friends (with fewer
credentials) have been hired. They're frustrated and embarrassed. They
often can go in too many directions at once, become overwhelmed,
discouraged, and pretty soon could lose interest, be considered a part time
hobbyist and NOT a serious candidate.
Many believe it takes quite a while to get firmly
entrenched in the testing process and get a solid presentation going. That’s
only if you don’t have the skills to know what you’re doing. The longer you
wait, the further behind you’ll be and you may never catch your competition. The
time to start learning is now. Each day you delay is costing you valuable time
Fire Captain - Santa Clara
County Fire Department wrote:
Do what you have to do be more marketable so you can take more tests and
have something more to offer a department, but remember that it all
comes down to that 15 to 30 minute oral interview. I've seen some
awesome candidates with resumes packed full of accomplishments that
couldn't sell them self in an interview to even make the top 50%.
These same skills work for job interviews, orals boards and promotional interviews for fire, police or any position
you are trying to obtain.
By the time you finish reading this
article, you will have a
better understanding of the oral board process. You will already have
improved your interview score by getting some of the secret
What's a "Nugget?"
is an answer to an oral board question that will get you your best score
(highest possible) on that question, satisfy the board, and cause them to go
on to the next question. You will get bonus points by personalizing
The "Nugget Principle"
enables applicants to personalize their presentations to separate them from
the "clone" candidates. No one else can tell your
story. Once you start lacing answers with your personal life
experiences, no matter if they aren't fire department related, is where you
start creating the magic.
Get a Bonus when you
sign up for our
The Oral Interview
According to retired Hayward, CA Battalion Chief Dennis O’Sullivan,
"The oral interview gets you the job! This is where you putt for dollars.
Understand one very important thing here. If I’m on you're interview panel
and your my kind of guy or gal, I will fill in some of the blanks to make up
for your short comings. If you start off without establishing this natural
bridge and being a know it all a$$, I will never fill in any of your short
comings. This is human nature."
The Oral Board is for all of the marbles!
If you don't know how to establish yourself and the other essential
skills needed to score high enough, you might as well not show up. You're
The goal is to convince the oral board that you can do the
job before you get it. Stories demonstrate your
life experience. They
tell the board that you not only know the answer to an oral board question,
you have already lived it.
There are more than 300 pages of free
information on our website. Much of this valuable
information is located in the FREE
How to Get A Badge". If you are looking
for a particular topic or get lost , use this google search engine feature
here, at the top of most pages or in the site map.
Don't be A
It’s not the interview questions that are the
problem, it’s the answers! Unfortunately many candidates become clones
and give clone answers. And the bigger problem is they don’t know
it. I hate to say, but often they are cloned in fire colleges and academies.
Clone answers can doom your oral board.
A friend Donna stopped me
at Starbucks. Two Sons of a family friend had graduated from a fire
academy last year. Both were having trouble getting hired. She wanted
my card to have them get in touch with me. While we were in line one of
our candidates Nick walked in and yelled, "Captain Bob" I got hired two months ago.
Donna had dinner with the
family and gave them the card. Two weeks later Donna was surprised they hadn't
called. She said, "My gosh one son has had 10 interviews and he hasn't been
hired. I told her that's not uncommon. Candidates coming
out of fire academies are pumped up like Marines
with their bulletproof academy T-shirts. They have been given mock orals,
use 3X5 flash cards with oral board questions and answers, run these by
their friends and think all they have to do is show up for the oral and
the job is theirs. Even after not getting a job
after several attempts they have some how convinced themselves between
the four inches between their ears that just around the corner at the next
interview they will get the job.
One of our officers was on an oral board for
a big city. Several boards interviewed 965 candidates. His board interviewed
135 candidates over a period of 10 days. Imagine you were this officer and
it is the fifth day of interviewing. You have just come back from lunch
where the city has wined and dined you. You’re tired and you know you have
another five days of interviews ahead of you.
The next candidate is
called in. The first question you ask is, "What sparked your interest and
why do you want to be a firefighter?" He proceeds to give you the same
clone answers you have heard from almost every candidate for five days.
Public service, helping people, not the same thing every day, blah blah
blah. The magic that you needed to hook up with the oral board has passed
and you didn’t hook them into listening to your stuff. You have just scored
yourself. Trust me. You can see the glaze come over the raters’ eyes. It’s
like a deer caught in the headlights. They are gone and they won’t come
Stories Get Badges!
Why Do You
Want to be a Firefighter?
This is one of the toughest questions to
answer without sounding like a Clone. Often it could be one of the first if
not the first question.
I want to clear the air about using clone answers. It’s not that you can’t
use clone answers. You can. But first you need to deliver a personalized
signature story about you relating to the question.
Not a clone answer of anyone else. I haven’t met a candidate yet that
couldn’t come up with signature stories. Signature stories demonstrate
experience. They also tell that you not only know the answer to a question,
you’ve already lived it.
One reason stories work
effectively is because they go directly to the brain and entertain. They do
not require the mental processing of more formal nonfiction writing. Stories
have heart and ring true.
it before them briefly so they will read it, clearly so they will appreciate
it, picturesquely so they will remember it and, above all, accurately so
they will be guided by its light.”—Joseph Pulitzer, (1847-1911) American
Firefighters love firefighter stories. If you open up with a signature
story, you instantly separate yourself from the other clone candidates.
Stories show the oral board who you really are. You capture the board and
take them on a journey with a story they have never heard.
Is this making
Case in point. I talked to a candidate who was dumping only clone
answers on this question. Then he realized he could begin his answer with a
signature story. He remembered a story he could use about a prank being
played on him when he did a ride along with his brother. He couldn’t believe
the difference. The story brought smiles and laughter from the panel
members. Along with the calls they went on by the end of the day he knew
this was the job that blended all his needs. He followed this story with his
standard landmark clone answers. This was the first question on his oral.
His answer made everyone more comfortable and the interview flowed
a lot smoother
The toughest thing for candidates to do in an oral is to
be themselves on
purpose. When you're yourself, you become conversational because you are on
your own turf. This alone can lower the stress and the butterflies.
Every one has butterflies. The trick is to get all the butterflies to
all fly in the same formation.
Stories are more than facts
If you can create the excitement, emotion,
the color and magic to relive the actual event, you will capture the
interest and a top score on that question. A big part of getting this job is
convincing the oral board that you can do the job before you get it. Stories
are convincing and can demonstrate your education and
even if they’re not fire related.
During coaching with a candidate one day and he was giving me those clone
answers why he wanted to be a firefighter. I stopped him and had him rewind
the videotape of his life. He remembered being a life guard at age
14. Take it back further (this is one of the values of a coach). He said,
"Oh, I'm from South America. When I was growing up, we lived with my
grandfather who was the fire chief of the city. I got to go with him and be
exposed to the who department."
I asked if he had ever told that story in any of his oral board interviews?
He said, "No". Why not? I will bet you big money you are a clone candidate
right now. But, I bet you also have some personal signature stories that
could instantly change your interview scores.
Practice those stories with a tape recorder. Condense them down to a minute
or less. Don't go on a journey. The oral board is not packed for the trip.
Once you answer an oral board with a signature story, you can marry the rest
of your answer with those clone answers you have been using. Try it and see
the amazing difference.
You won't have time and it's not appropriate to use a signature story for
Tell the story. Make the point. Move on.
I asked a candidate, who was testing for Oakland, one day why he wanted to
be a firefighter. He gave me the typical "Clone" answer, "It's giving back
to the community, public service, helping other's, blah, blah, zzzzzzzzzzzz."
I stopped him and asked, "What really got you interested in being a
firefighter?" He said, "Oh, well I grew up in Oakland, but moved to Shasta
during high school. After graduation I went to hotel management school in
Reno. That didn't work out, so I moved back to Oakland and started going to
Chabot College. I met an old friend who was in the fire science program. We
ended up over at his house. His father was a Captain for Oakland. They got
me all fired up, I signed up in fire science, got my firefighter 1, became a
medic and I'm currently a federal firefighter."
I just sat there amazed. I asked him if he had ever used this (his
signature) story before? He said no. You gave me the "Clone" answer and you
had this beauty sitting here? He polished up the story and practiced it with
a tape recorder. He works proudly for the City of Alameda.
Another candidate remembered he had the Gage and Desoto dish and cup set
from the TV series Emergency. His mom had a picture of him in front of the
TV as a kid eating off it when the show came on. He took that picture to his
orals. Did it work? He works for San Jose Fire.
After a written test I asked a group of six candidates why they wanted to be
firefighters. They were amazed that what they thought was unique was only a
“Clone”. After I worked with one in the group with his signature story of
why he wanted to be a firefighter, the rest of the group used the formula to
put together their own too.
I have yet to find a candidate
who doesn't have signature stories. The
problem is they don't know how to use them. You might not know yours today.
But, after reading this article, you will have some aha’s in the next few days.
I know you have been number 3 in Seattle, in the top 5 at
Ontario, made the cut on the CPS test, waiting for the next call from
LA City, and tested in Portland, Stockton, and passed the
agility test in Phoenix. If you're a medic, you
had the advantage of taking more tests. But you still
don't have that badge. You're still the brides maid! Never the
Going to Disneyland!
Captain Bob and Captain Rob:
First off I would like to say THANK YOU!!!!!!
The two of you have really helped me find the tools that I needed to ACE the
Oral board and get the best career in the world and TO GET THAT BADGE!!!!!
I have been testing sense 1993 and in that time I took a total of 73
tests. While I was testing I got really close a couple times however, I
would fall short from receiving the badge.
Something was holding me back from getting the badge and I had no idea what
I was doing wrong. I was striking out in the oral boards, and I felt
demoralized hearing about someone who just got their badge after taking
only two or three tests. “What on earth were they doing to get the
badge“??????? As you would say Captain Bob and Captain Rob, “Presentation,
preparation, patients and practice“.
After reading the material, listening to the CD’s and watching the DVD, I
started to understand I needed to change my ways of thinking. I grew
extremely excited to learn your material and I could see where I messed up
on past oral boards. I studied your material, practiced and tapped into the
coaching session. NOW I CAN SEE HOW TO DO IT THE RIGHT WAY! The coaching was
extremely helpful and gave me the confidences for my up coming oral boards.
I thought I was seeing the process in 180 degrees. The program and coaching
enabled me to view the oral in all 360 degrees. What an advantage.
The next oral board I had went incredibly well and, a few weeks after the
board I received the best phone call. “We would like to hire you on to our
Fire Department”, (MY ANSWER- YES, YES, YES, AND YES) (STATED WITH THE UP
MOST EXICITMENT). I get emotional every time I think about that phone call.
I won‘t ever forget that moment! This is the moment in my life that I have
been waiting for. It’s finally here (THANK YOU GOD)!!! My recruit class
starts in early March and I’m looking forward to starting what I love doing,
FIRE FIGHTING! Eric
Opps, I almost
Some will say, "Captain Bob"
how can you help so many candidates without making them into clones?" Good question. Simple
answer. The real reason is nobody else can tell your story! Nobody! When you
start lacing your answers with your personalized experiences is where you
start to shorten that gap between you and that infamous badge.
this Work in my Part of the Country?
We have the GPS to help
you get the J-O-B!
Hands down, we help more firefighters get hired in the US of A and
Canada than anyone else! Coast to coast, in every state and major city in
the America, 24 hours a day, the citizens are protected by firefighters who went through
our program! To date 2,526 badges have been
presented from our program. Is there anyone who can claim more badges?
From Tim: It
doesn't matter where you are from, what part of the country you're in,
how old or tall, or fit you are, without these tools you have
provided I'd still be a phone man in NYC. Now I'm achieved my dream job
and proud to say I'll be a firefighter in beautiful Virginia Beach. This
feeling of accomplishment feels like it will last a lifetime, it's an
For those candidates that think just
because they are in the service as a volunteer or EMT, gives them the
knowledge and preparedness is just plain ignorant. I was both a volunteer
firefighter and EMT several years ago, and would not have known the skills
and nuggets needed to get that edge and advantage through each step without
Captain Bob’s program. Thank you. Tim
It's a great feeling if you can be a part of the change in
someone's life. Multiply that by over 2,626 badges
and you will understand that this is
our reward. My fire captain son Rob and I have great passion in seeing
candidates get a badge. This is serious work.
We can shorten the learning curve to the
closest point between you and the badge. Like the Tin Man in the Wizard of
Oz, we’re not going to give you anything you don’t already have. We’re just
going to show you where it is. There's a badge out there for you. You
just haven’t seen it yet. We will show you how to nail it!
NO! You're probably not ready
You've been driving and flying all over the country
collecting frequent flyer miles, putting careers on hold,
the most income you had last year came from your credit cards, ruining
relationships, running out of money and hope, and haven't figured out that
with all your education and experience . . . the rubber meets the road in
the oral board. If You Can't Pass the Job Interview, You don't
Job! This is where you putt for dollars. Even golf pros take
You have every degree, certificate and merit badge you can
get. A volunteer, paramedic, and great experience.
But you don't have the badge. The
guy you thought was the village idiot went through our program and has
his chest all puffed out with a badge. Over 2,425
candidates have received their badges through this program.
Thousands more have been hired by using the free
information from our web site and having their questions answered by
phone or e-mail. We have the road map.
How many opportunities have you already
wasted by not being really ready to take a firefighter interview?
How many candidates will look back 5 years from now after not getting hired
and realize they took the wrong path? As my Captain son Rob
says "Too many 'Experts' will tell you how and what to do to get
hired if they were you. That's the problem. They're not you!"
Has any what you've read made sense? Would you go on an
African safari without a guide? Then why would you go to an oral
interview without a guide to show you where the rocks are so you can make it
across the river without being washed away? Haven't you been beat up enough
yet? We would you like to work with you to turn things around?
It's been said that when the student is ready to learn, the teacher appears.
Are you at this point now? We can help you where ever you're at in the
Expect Immediate Results
Step by step, we can help you with everything you need to know in
the hiring process, starting with the application, written, physical, oral, psych
interview, background, polygraph, and medical to gain a badge.
You'll find the inside “Nuggets”, tips and resources you
can’t get anywhere else to shorten the learning curve and the distance between
you and that badge.
P. S. I encourage you
Look at the results other people
just like you have gotten by using our formula. They simply got positive
results by putting simple techniques into action.
You can review what they had to say here:
Success Stories Here
After using our Entry level program, Dave wrote, "Nothing
counts until you have the badge, nothing. For all of the candidates
out there that don't believe this, try passing and ranking #1 on orals with
a stuttering problem . . . I did."
"I believe in developing good candidates for the fire
service and to get potential employees to bring out the greatness they know
and why (the real reason) to join the fire service. Your program
identifies the who, what, where, and when of fire service oral boards . . ."
John White, Fire Technology Coordinator, Shasta
You can listen to segments from our CD program
FREE from your computer, iPod or MP3.
This from Steve:
I called a week before my oral board in Denver. I had
taken the test with 1900 other candidates. I had "Captain Bob" FedEx
me the Gold Package Program. I was told that if I got through the
script and was ready, I could do the private coaching before my oral.
Three days later I did the private coaching by phone. I couldn't
believe what a difference the "Nuggets" made when I went to that oral.
It was like I was conducting the interview.
You need to know that this was my first fire department
test. I saw the add in the newspaper for the test. I'm a 32 year
old white male with no fire department experience or classes. I was
called back for the chiefs oral. I ended up #2 on the list and now
proudly wear the badge for Denver. I would not have been in this
position if it wasn't for "Captain Bob's" program. Sincerely, Steve
Click here for The
is What Keeps the
My best friend Jeffery got his phone
call today that got him on the Phoenix Fire Department. It was his 1st try.
As far as raw potential goes I thought he had all along what it took to get
onto the force. He put in the time, the classes, and the training. He was
indeed passionate about it. But no matter how good you are, no matter how
good of a fit you might be, unless you have the proper resources to guide
you, I don't believe that he would have been successful the 1st time.
Practically speaking there are just to many unknowns awaiting you, and too
many experienced people taking the test for the second, third, or fourth
time. It is like getting a 1600 on your SAT. Common sense renders it
But amongst the many things that my
friend did right, I think the most important was finding about you. I don't
know how he found out about your resources, but without question they were
the difference maker. Jeffery would have made the department eventually. 2
years? 5 years? Who knows? But the one thing money can't buy is time and you
saved him years of time. All along he spoke very highly of you and your
methods to the extent where I must admit even I was skeptical.
But I was wrong, Jeffery once told me
of a story about two months before this now infamous phone call. He had got
himself into a dilemma. A bit of foreseeable trouble dealing with nothing
more than wrong place, wrong time, in the business political fortitude.
Messing with politics at any level is dangerous, but it could have been
lethal one month before your second Phoenix interview. Anyway seeking
resolution he contacted you and left a message asking your advice on how to
best cope with the delicate situation. 2 minutes after putting the phone
down you called him right back and told him exactly what he needed to do to
fix this dilemma. That's cool. There are a lot of salesman, and a lot of
good, genuine, people, but they are not often associated as being one in the
same. In that moment you sold me.
To me what is most important about all
of this is that I can tell you that you have helped permanently change a
life for the better, and that will be as good sounding to you as it sounded
to me this afternoon when he called me. Thanks
Reply: Mark: Yes, this is as good sounding to me as it sounded to you
this afternoon when he called. Your touching story warmed my heart
with emotions. What an early Christmas present.
While you're here
Captain Bob wants to give you a 10 day FREE
test drive of selected inside secrets how to get a badge.
Learn more here
This says it all:
I ordered your Gold Package and listened to it several
times. I then went for a private coaching session with Captain Rob.
He made me think before I spoke and gave many useful insights. He
helped me on the dreaded question of why do you want to be a Firefighter.
In my last interview they said that they never had responses like mine; they
were different from all the other candidates. Well, it worked. I have
just been hired at a Fire and Rescue in South Carolina. Thank
you and Rob for all your help. Jerry
Nothing counts until you have the badge. Nothing!
And there is no feeling like proudly wearing the badge.
"No college fire program
would be complete . . . Without this program!" Candice Williamson,
Our candidates are improving their entry level and
promotional interview scores up to 15 points and nailing that badge!
Imagine what would happen to your score by using the secrets from 30 years
Here's what you can expect to learn: