The oral board is the most misunderstood and least prepared portion of testing.
Dennis is an engineer going for Captain. He's sitting in number 4 position after the written and the first oral. All he had to do was hold his position in the Chief's oral where there were seven badges waiting. No big deal right? He's stationed with one of my oral board coaches and his Captain. His Captain is a seasoned veteran rater and trainer for oral boards. They offer to help Dwayne. He refuses, saying he's just going to do a lot of reading.
They are also promoting dispatchers. Mary is offered and quickly accepts the offer for coaching. Mary gets the job. On the day of the Chief's oral for Captain, Mary brings in lobster tails and prime rib to celebrate her promotion to senior dispatcher. Dennis thinks he held his position in the oral. The next day people are call Dennis up to congratulate him on his promotion. Embarrassed, he has to tell them that he didn't get the job. They dropped down to number eight, a firefighter.
Here Dennis had the golden opportunity to gain an edge by taking advantage of coaching from his Captain and Dan who were stationed with him. They have been there, done that, got the ball cap, T-shirt and played the game.
After many years of coaching, I finally figured out it is a guy thing that keeps many guys from being hired. They get great credentials, but do little preparing for the oral. They write things down, think about them and think they will come out of their mouths the same way with magic. They don't! When they start having problems in the oral, they start adding more credentials, using flash cards and relying on friends and unproven college programs for mock orals that often make them into clone candidates.
Coaching must be one of those guys things they can't say. Here's the guys list:
I can't fix it.
I'm not lost.
I Love you.
And, I don't need coaching.
I could tell which college program or coach a candidate came from during an oral board by the second question. What's sad is most of the candidates didn't know they sounded like everyone else. The oral board would roll their eyes, "Oh, boy, another 'Clone'".
Unfortunately by the time they might call me, they've already lost some great opportunities. They have tried everything they could think of. Many tell me they felt like they hit a wall. It must be like giving up control, as if they had it, or their ego to make the call.
Few if any had ever used a tape recorder before calling, unless they read it on one of our web postings. A tape recorder will let your hear what the oral board will hear. When candidates finally hear their message on a tape recorder they are shocked! That's not me. Yes, it is. One practice session on a tape recorder is worth 10 speaking out louds. A tape recorder will let you know where to cut out material, your timing, inflection and if you really sound like Donald Duck. If I asked you if you are using a tape recorder, what would your answer be? Once a week? Every day like you need to be to have your message become second nature to you? Practice makes permanent.
Dennis was told that his answers in his Captains oral didn't have heart. The guys have started calling him the Tin Man because he has not heart. Brutal? Naw, just firehouse humor. He had never used a tape recorded. Had he heard himself, he would have recognized the problem and made corrections. This proves the Stanford University study that showed that 85% of getting a job has to do with your enthusiasm (heart). If you will light yourself on fire with enthusiasm, the oral board will stand up, applaud and watch you burn. This one "Nugget" would have placed a Captains badge on Dennis. Then he would have been buying lobster tails and prime rib to celebrate.
I get frequent calls from wives and significant other's who are looking for a ring and a date. Most of their guys won't listen to them. Folks, understand that women usually have this down. If you would follow their advice you would have probably advanced further by now.
If you think this is some kind of commercial, think again. The only purpose here is to gain your attention to changing what you are doing to get hired. Here's the secret. It's in the oral board. Because nothing else counts if you can't pass the oral. If you don't change what you're doing, nothing else will change in getting the badge.
I know you think the next test will be the one. I've got it now. This adds more stress on you, your family, your relationships, your finances and your credit cards just a tad more to get that badge. Dream on.
I can't take you kicking and screaming to provide you with information. And, I can't take the test for you. The main point I want to make here is, TAKE THE POISON EARLY AND GET COACHING.
Oral board scores are often measured by hundreds of points. You have seen them? 79.22, 89.27, etc. Is your score improving. Are you making it to the Chief's oral? Our candidates are improving their scores up to 15 points and nailing badges. Imagine what could happen to your scores!
Glen has been testing about a year. He's 32 years old. Not a medic. He got our program and did the coaching. He had passed two orals and was going back for the Chief's oral for both departments within days of each other. He wanted to come back for the "Super Coaching Session". My Son Rob did that session. Rob asked Glen what he was going to do if both departments offered him the job. Glen Laughed. The next call from Glen was exactly that, both departments offered him the job. A nice dilemma eh?
Nothing counts til you have the badge. Nothing!
Click here for more on how coaching can make a difference for you.
Ask "Captain Bob" Any Question
Fire "Captain Bob" Smith has coached countless entry level and promotional candidates to get their badge. He is a retired 28-year Hayward, Ca. Captain, speaker/author of the audio/video program "Conquer the Job Interview," the book "Fire Up Your Communication Skills" ISBN 09657620-6-8 and a member of the prestigious National Speakers Association. You can book him as a speaker or get a copy of his books and tapes by calling toll free at 888-238-3959.
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