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I rehearsed with the recorder,
felt really good about my knowledge of the department and town, was all relaxed
before I arrived, walked into the room and the nervous feeling kicked in. I had
all of my standard answers ready to go. I ended up rambling on about one
question that I believe may have sunk me. Maybe a good point for your readers.
Keep it short and simple. I basically dug a hole and as I was talking, couldn't
believe I was saying what I was saying and tried to dig myself out. I don't
think I made it out of the hole.
Not sure why I was so nervous. I was absolutely prepared. Sat in the hot seat,
bright white lights, four FF’s, one Lt. and the Chief all at the same oral
I guess I need to take acting classes. Mark
Reply: Trailing Off
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, it’s like going on a journey.
There could be no final destination. Most panel members aren’t 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 don’t, you
will keep adding unnecessary stuff, mumbling, trailing off and the answer will
be pronounced dead way out there somewhere ending with, “Blab, blab, blab. And,
that’s about all . . .”
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
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
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