Starter Principals For The Firefighter Oral Board Exam. (And some great links!)

Books are filled with the principals regarding how to answer Firefighter Oral Board Questions.  In fact, i’m writing a new one right now.  The thing is…You have to start with some basic principals to the Oral Board Process.  Here are the first few I like to share with candidates:

1.  Show up at least thirty minutes early.

You’ll take advantage of having plenty of time to quiet your mind and prepare your thoughts or adjust to location changes within large buildings or areas.  You’ll also take advantage of the possibility that other candidates haven’t shown up and that you’ll be prepared “early”.  This will reflect well in the eyes of the board, and you’ll start with a small but possibly key leg up in the competition.

2.  Start with a great appearance.

Appearance or how one looks comes first because it sets the tone for the rest of the oral board interview. Many candidate make the mistake of buying into the “Shirt and Tie” requirement that is found in most interview processes. Understand this: The Oral Board Interview is nothing like any other interview most candidates have been on. A portion of the field always fails to recognize that this isn?t so much an interview as an audition for the life of a firefighter. The firefighter is expected to represent his/her department and community on and off duty, and appearance sets the tone. One should strive to stand out due to their impeccable appearance and incredible preparation. One should never stand out for loud, inappropriate, disheveled attire.

Here?s what should be worn:


Hair:   Short, clean, combed.

Skin:   Clean shaven immediately prior to leaving for the interview. No tattoos showing if possible.

Suit:   Dark blue, black, or grey. Conservative. (Pinstripes may be acceptable if they?re deeply muted.) Tailored to fit.

Shirt:  Light to neutral coloring (No Loud Colors!). Not loose or baggy.

Tie:    Again, err on the conservative side. Avoid the “skinny tie”, the hawaiian prints, and the tie that you bought to scream out your stylish individuality.

Shoes:  Dark, matched to the suit, polished, avoid loud or distracting elements like

large metal tabs or two tone shoes.

Jewelry:  Wedding ring and a nice watch should be the only visible items.


Hair:  Pinned up, clean, neat.

Skin:  Clean, make up is fine but keep it professional/lightly applied.

Suit:  Skirt or pant suit in dark blue, black, or grey. Conservative. (Pinstripes may be acceptable if they?re deeply muted.) Tailored to fit.

Shirt:  Light to neutral coloring (No Loud Colors!). Not loose or baggy.

Shoes:  Dark, matched to the suit, polished, heel is fine as long as its not too high.

Jewelry:  Avoid large, loud, distracting elements. Wedding ring and a nice watch should be the only visible items.

3.  Follow up with a great entrance.

Introduce yourself to each member of the board with direct eye contact, a firm handshake, and  a smile.  Have enough copies of your resume for each member of the board plus one or two left over for you.  They’ll likely have copies, but you’ve thought ahead and can offer them if asked or ordered.  The other thing that this will do for you is give you something to hold on to so that you keep your hands under control while answering questions.  Stand next to the chair, and don’t sit down until told to do so.  When sitting…feet squarely on floor and sit up straight.  If you have the opportunity, you may ask if you can move the chair a bit closer to the oral board raters.

4.  Be prepared to answer four types of questions.

1. Questions about you.  (I have some great tips on how to answer the most commonly asked opener by boards:  “Tell Us About Yourself”  in this article.)

2.  Questions about the fire service career.

3.  Questions about the department/municipality/surrounding areas.

4.  Scenario based questions that deal with moral hazard, alcohol/drugs, following orders, safety, and legal issues while serving as a member of the department.

5.  Use the three C’s in your answers.

1. Care. Answer the question(s) asked.  A very common mistake is made by candidates who  answer brilliantly…to questions that weren’t asked.  Listen to the question.  Ensure you heard it correctly.  Ask to repeat it if you didn’t.  Answer THAT question.

2. Confidence.  Deliver your answers confidently, and stick to your guns once you’ve made a decision.  (Hint:  you should have thought through all of the possible questions and practiced answering them over and over so that you are sure that they reflect what you’re trying to convey.

3. Conviction. This is why you NEVER memorize speeches for oral board interviews.      You absolutely must deliver your answers in a manner that reflects your belief in what you have to say.  Anything less will come off unprepared or canned and insincere.

*These  5 things are a great start to the process, but i’ve got even more for you! Go to my blog @ and sign up.  I’ll send you a list of 44 commonly asked Firefighter Oral Board Examination Questions, so you can get  practicing.

I’m here to help.


Be Sociable, Share!
Be Sociable, Share!

Comments are closed.