How Long Should My Answers Be?


I don't want to bore the panel, but I want to make sure that I let them know what I think is important.

That's often the problem. Candidates want to give us so much over-kill information they think is important so there is no question or doubt the panel members understand their answers. The candidates try to give us a blue print, when we just need a sketch.  Try to give us a dump truck, when we just need a trailer.  It often puts the panel to sleep. Especially if the candidate doesn't know they are using clone answers.

When some candidates start talking in an oral, itís like going on a journey. There could be no final destination. Most panel members arenít packed for the trip. Too many candidates end up rambling towards the end of the oral board answers.  I refer to this as trailing off.  

Keep it simple. Your mind will tell you when you need to stop. It you donít, you will keep adding unnecessary stuff, mumbling, trailing off and the answer will be pronounced dead way out there somewhere ending with, ďBlab, blab, blab. And, thatís about all . . .Ē  

I asked a candidate to tell me a little about himself during private coaching one day. I stopped him 12 minutes later. I said you have just used up 12 minutes of a 20-minute oral. What do you think we have time for now?

When working on an answer or a signature story use a tape recorder to practice, rehearse, time, and condense the story down to where you have a great answer and killer story.  Have someone in the know listen to your answers to give you some feed back. Be concise, but brief.  Tell the story.   Make the point. Move on.  

You will know if your answers are too long if the raters start getting a glaze on their eyes or they cut you off (not a good sign).  And, yes if you go too long in the mouth you will not take advantage of being scored on all the questions.

There is one question though where you will want to dump the whole load, leave nothing out no matter what.  That question is What Have You Done to Prepare for the Position.

"Nothing counts 'til you have the badge . . . Nothing!"

Fire "Captain Bob"
Author, book Becoming A Firefighter--The Complete Guide to Your Badge! http://www.eatstress.com/goldpackage.htm