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August 15, 2008
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Asking the Panel Questions?
When a traditional interview is about to finish, I'm usually asked by the interviewer if I have any questions. What can ask at the close of a Chief's Interview with a fire department to end it on a positive note? I'm really stumped on this one and need some advice because I want to have some excellent questions. Also, how many questions should I ask?
Reply: How about none.
This can either be questions your want to ask the panel or an opportunity for a closing statement.
Asking the Panel Questions?
Candidates have been told by others that you always have to ask a question, if you're given the opportunity at the end of an interview, or you will lose points. Not True in a fire oral! In a regular or corporate interview that might be true. But not here. You never, ever, ever, have a question. We don't expect you to have any questions. I had a guy one day ask, "Since I live so far away, can I start at second step pay to help pay for my gas?"
If that question is asked (here's the "Nugget") you can pause as if your gathering your thoughts and then say, "No, I think we covered everything." We had another candidate say, "You have probably heard about the charges against me for stealing over at the college?" No, we haven't, why don't you tell us about it. Here was another candidate who have done an outstanding job in his oral and he had to bring this up. His score dropped like a wounded seagull. This is not the time to bring up anything like this. You never bring up a negative item unless the panel does. They probably won't. It they do, have a simple, short (I said simple and short) answer to the situation.
I asked a class of fire candidates, "What do you want to say if you're given the opportunity to give a closing statement at the end of your oral?" On candidate said, "I would ask them if they saw any reason why I wouldn't get the job." I asked why would you say that? Because that's what you would ask in a corporate interview. Good point. But, understand this is not, repeat, is not a corporate or regular interview. This is a semi-military organization. I told the class I would never, ever ask this question. Hum, do I see any reason why this candidate wouldn't get this job? I do now with that question.
The closing and the opening question tell us a little about yourself aren't usually scored. But if you say something good or bad in your closing it could cause the panel to go back to a section that is scored and change it.
There are those who would tell you to raise the flag and beat the drum with a lot of fanfare in your closing statement. Please spare us this part. Understand, if you haven't done it in the body of your oral presentation, you're not going to make it up in the closing. REPEATING, IF YOU HAVEN'T DONE IT IN THE BODY OF YOUR ORAL PRESENTATION, YOU'RE NOT GOING TO MAKE IT UP IN THE CLOSING! We had a candidate who tried to show us all his certificates during his closing. McFly?
If a candidate is asked only a
few questions or the questions they are asked did not cover the great answers
they had for: Why do you want to be a firefighter? What have you done to prepare
for the position? Why do you want to work for this department or agency? You’re
missing out here by not taking advantage of a great opportunity to deliver one
or more of those answers in a condensed matter to maximize your presentation to
gain a few extra points.
Don't forget that the closing part of an interview is where you call on the emotions of the interviewers to give you the job. Don't reiterate or try to do repair work. Use only the key points not already covered in your script. Without being boring or lengthily, tell the interviews why you really want the job and, with your qualifications, hope to be considered for the position.
Then shut up and get out of the building. Or, you will say something stupid. We had a guy one day ace his oral. After his closing, he said, "Well, if I don't get this job I can always fall back on that part time painters job." The panel couldn't believe what this guy just said after acing his oral. Did it hurt his score? Enough to keep him from getting a shot at a badge. Last time I heard, he was still painting.
Capt Bob and Capt Rob, Thank you for your help with my interview preparation. I took the LA City oral board yesterday and I left with a background packet as planned. The most important thing I learned from the yesterday is to never give up no matter what. They asked me several informal questions at first, which I did fine on. Although, I started off very bad with the first scored question. I tried to combine several planned answers into one and it wasn't pretty. About 30 seconds into it, I looked up into the Captains eyes and I could tell that I was blowing it. So, I paused and thought about how much time, money, and effort I had put into this. I told myself I wasn't going to blow this and at that point I transformed form nervous and confused, into someone that was confident and was not going to fail no matter what. At this point I started from the beginning and delivered a solid answer. The rest of the interview went flawless and the panel worked with me. I believe I gained their respect from not giving up on the first answer.
I'm going to get started on my background packet now. I just wanted to thank you for your help once again and I'll keep you informed. Brian
Brian is in the hiring process.
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Bottom line getting a badge is all presentation skills!
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