Shifting Gears on the Oral Board

So, you're going to an oral board next week. Your buddy is taking his oral at the same department 3 days before you. He's going to give you the questions. You've got it dialed. You're going to nail it! As your oral board starts, something isn't right. The questions aren't the same. The panel has picked up you might know some of the questions and they start switching gears on you. Your presentation is in cement. You start to panic. You're not nailing it. Your timing is off, they catch you flat footed on some questions, your mouth is dry, your voice goes monotone, you're forgetting your best stuff. You start to freeze up like the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz. You're blowing the chance of a life time. This is exactly what happened to several candidates in the LA City orals. What happened?

This could be a double edge sword. Oral board panels are becoming more savvy. We know after the first day some candidates share answers with their friends, even when they sign a statement they will keep the questions confidential until after the test. If we sense you're too quick to answer, or pick up your body language that you might already know the answers, the panel will switch gears. Often, we can see the "oh, no" expression on the candidates face when we start switching gears to different questions.

I discourage candidates sharing questions on oral boards because it causes them to focus on just those questions and get their answers in cement. If you continue to practice the broad base of questions and your signature stories, you can't be caught flat footed or fooled.

Even when candidates call me after their oral to discuss their answers, when the orals are still going on, I never-ever-tell other candidates the questions who are going to the same oral. First it's not ethical and my credibility would go right out the window. It could also set them up to have the panel switch gears on them.

Stick to the stuff that we know works in the orals. This recent posting to the PFF Bulletin Board can be the result:

Date: February 26, 1999 09:50 AM

Author: TMaples

Subject: Hired!

I, too, want to thank everyone on this bulletin board who has provided positive comments and advise, especially Capt. Bob.

I just rec'd my official letter of acceptance to the San Marcos (San Diego area) Fire Dept as a firefighter/paramedic!

Good Luck to all and be safe.

Tim Maples

P.S. To Craig and Pam Freeman at Perfect Firefighter -

thank's for a great website!

Reply: "Captain Bob"

I knew Tim was in the hiring process. He call and told me he got our program recently and after five years or trying, it immediately turned him around and he nailed his next interview. He got his badge. Let's get one for you. It can happen quicker than you think. Ask Tim.

Nothing counts ‘til you have the badge. Nothing!

"Captain Bob"

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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