Stories Get Badges!
We encourage candidates to lace their answers with personal life experiences.
Since no one else can tell a candidate’s life experience stories they can’t be
placed in the mold of a profile. They become unique, fresh and convincing. In a
recent fire academy half the recruits were candidates who went through our
program. You couldn’t tell one from the other in the oral board because they
using their own stuff. Not a profile robot “clone” of everyone else.
If you have all the education, experience and the burning desire to get that
badge, you’re not getting hired, having to cool your heels in another position
waiting for that next opportunity (not a bad ideal), you have be asking yourself
You can talk all you want about what we do here, how you want it or think it
should be, but the candidates you are reading about in our material are a lot
like you. They simply got positive results by putting simple techniques into
action. The big difference is they figured out how to maximize the points in
their oral boards, are now riding big red and taking home a pay check.
Here’s how they did it. Since oral board scores are calculated in hundredths of
points (82.15, 87.63, 90.87, etc), the goal is to keep building on a few
hundredths of points here on this question, a few hundredths there on that
answer, gaining a few more hundredths with their signature personalized life
experience stories at the appropriate time, delivering the all powerful “Nugget”
answers that no one else can tell, and pulling away from the parrot salvo
Before the clone candidates realize what has happened, these candidates have
added on extra points to their score placing them in a position to be invited to
the chief’s interview where they get a real shot at the badge. Just being 1 to 2
points out of the running can decide whether you will go forward in the hiring
process or not.
The toughest thing for candidates to do in an oral is to be themselves on
purpose. Your stories establish a natural bridge between you and the panel. When
you're yourself, you become conversational because you are on your own turf.
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 than can
make the difference.
Stories are more than facts. If you can recreate 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
board that you can do the job before you get it. Stories are convincing and can
demonstrate your experience, even if they’re not fire related.
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.
Collect illustrative stories as you are collecting facts, quotations and other
information for your signature stories.
Practice those stories with a tape recorder. Condense them down to a couple of
minutes or less. Don’t go on a journey. The oral board is not packed for the
trip. You won’t have time and it’s not appropriate to use a signature story for
every answer. Tell the story. Make the point. Move on. 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.
“Put it before them briefly so they will read it, clearly so they will
it, picturesquely so they will remember it and, above all, accurately so they
will be guided by its light.”—Joseph Pulitzer, (1847-1911) American journalist.
I was coaching a candidate one day and a candidate 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 to where he first got the spark to be a firefighter. 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.
I was doing private coaching session with a candidate. He was telling a story
about being a federal firefighter in Yellowstone when it burned. The story was
not too exciting the way he was telling it. I had to stop and ask, “It sounds
like you were trapped?” He was. Now he tells that story and the hairs start
standing up on the back of your neck. You’re trapped with him. You can smell the
smoke and see the embers dropping around you. Does this story make a difference?
Please say yes.
Case in point. I just talked to a candidate who was dumping only clone answers
on the question “Why do you want to be a firefighter?” 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 when he used this personalized signature story
his next oral board.
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 than before.
Some 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! So the point here is not the question, but the answer.
Start establishing your personalized stories. When you start lacing your answers
with your personalized experiences is where you start to shorten that gap
you and that infamous badge.
You can review success stories here:
“You can’t control the wind, but you can adjust your sails.”
More interview tools here:
Check out the 101 Inside Secrets How to Get a Badge here:
"Nothing counts 'til you have the badge . . .
Fire "Captain Bob" Author, Becoming A Firefighter
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