Using A Tape Recorder
What tools can you use to practice and rehearse your oral board answers? Right, a video camera. You need to see how you look in action. But you are trapped with a video camera. Mirror? Sure standing in front of a mirror is good. But you are missing the most valuable tool of all. A hand-held tape recorder.
I received a call from one of our candidates. He has made it to a few oral boards and one Chief’s Oral without success. He has been invited to the San Diego oral board and wanted to set up a private coaching session. In just a few moments I was aware of something critical. Then I asked him if he was using a tape recorder to practice? Like most people (99.7%), he hemmed and hawed and finally said, “Well, no. But, I’m thinking about it.”
Even though he had our Entry Level program that hammers and hammers the point home that you have to use a tape recorder and hear how you sound, he still didn’t get the message. His answers were garbage. Many applicants want this job so bad they will do almost anything ethically and morally to get it. I guess that doesn’t include using a tape recorder to get your timing, inflection, volume, where to cut out material, get rid of the uh’s and other pause fillers, or to find out if you really sound like Donald Duck. You need to get married to your hand-held tape recorder. You need to hear what the oral board is going to hear out of your mouth. It’s narrows the distance between you and the badge you’re looking for!
What is the first thing a candidate says when he hears his voice on a tape recorder? Yep. That’s not me. Yes, it is McFly. You need to get married to a hand held tape recorder and practice everywhere you go.
This is usually a guy thing. Guys think about their answers in their head and write them down. Then they think their answers are going to come out of their mouths like magic in the oral. Trust me, they don’t! The brain and mouth don’t work that way.
Try this. Take 3X5 cards and write down your oral board questions. Practice your answers with the tape recorder. If you hear something you do not like when you play it back, turn over the 3X5 card and write it down. The next time you go after that question, turn over the card first and see what you don’t want to say.
Let me tell you how critical this really is. If you’re not using a tape recorder to practice, practice, practice, rehearse, rehearse, rehearse and over learn your material until it becomes second nature to you, you might as well not show up for the interview. You are wasting the oral boards time and your time! Seek out another career. Understand you still have to interview there too. The above candidate has already lost some great opportunities. Had he been faithfully using a tape recorder to prepare for his oral boards, he probably could have had a badge already.
Some will say, “Well, if I practice it too much it will sound canned.” NO it won’t! It sure will be planned though. Practice makes permanent. “Luck is preparation meeting opportunity.” One practice session with a tape recorder is worth 10 speaking out louds. After practicing, you will get to a point where your answers will get into your subconscious. That’s where the magic begins. You can’t be fooled.
We think practicing with a tape recorder is so important; we will not do private coaching with a candidate if they aren’t using one. It is a waste of our time and their money. Be advised that your competition knows the value of using a tape recorder. They are catapulting past you if you’re not using one too.
Here’s what we know after 30-years of experience. Those candidates who get our Entry Level Program, use the work booklet that will become their script to audition for the job of a firefighter, use a tape recorder to practice and come back and do private coaching end up catapulting themselves into the Olympic Camp to get a shot at the badge. A proven inexpensive way to gain a 25+-year career. To be one of the last of America’s heroes.
Instead of posting messages
on bulletin boards asking others where they’re at in the testing process for
this city and I’m in the top 40 on this list or whatever, start asking your self
this question: What am I doing that can best prepare me for the most important
part of the hiring process? . . . The oral board. Because if you can’t pass the
oral board, or score high enough on the list, you don’t get the job. Never!
Ever! Ever! Now, where’s your tape recorder?"Nothing
counts 'til you have the badge . . . Nothing!"