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 were 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 why?
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 dropping clones.
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. This 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 oral 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 appreciate 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 at 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.
You can review success stories here: http://www.eatstress.com/testbest.htm
“You can’t control the wind, but you can adjust your sails.”