With all the hand shaking out of the way my attention now shifted to the chair. So what you might say it’s just a chair. Oh no it isn’t, I mean yes the thing is just a chair, an uncomfortable folding metal piece of industrial shit. It was about the positioning of said chair.
It was intentionally placed in the “wrong spot” the incorrect distance from the table. We covered that yesterday. So now I had to decide on posture, body language, and this has to be on your mind throughout the whole interview.
Crossed arms and legs show a closed or defensive attitude, leaned too far back you might be too casual and not taking this seriously. I had decided ahead of time I would take solid posture. Both feet firmly planted at hip width, hands loosely on my knees. You didn’t want your hands in the “praying” position, held together and moving around.
Shoulders relaxed but square, chin up, eyes forward and moving. You wanted to make eye contact with each interviewer, but only for a few seconds at a time. Gaze too long and you could give the impression you were trying to dominate, stare at the floor or ceiling and you were scared or disinterested.
A glass of water was offered, I took it, but drank in sips, even though I wanted to guzzle it like a cold Budweiser. Okay nice smile and begin. “You ready?” asked the nice guy. “Yes Sir.” I answered.
With all the preparation I had done, all the rehearsals I’d been through I had a good idea of what to expect. This was a test designed to see what you would do in no-win situations. The bulk of the interrogation was not really about the content of your answer, but more or less how did you problem solve under pressure.
There was a get-to-know-me phase, a chance to cover who you were, what you wanted, and the whys of how you came to be there. A chance to brag a bit and hit on work and life highlights, kind of a verbal resume if you will.
Then came the situational questions, the no way to win questions. I’ll give you an example. One of the examiners would select an index card and read to you from the card. They gave you no indications of what they were thinking, what was on their minds. Hell they could have been going through the lunch menu for all I knew.
So here was one of the questions I got.
“You and another firefighter are performing salvage and overhaul at a residential fire. Salvage and overhaul is done to secure the residence and prevent further destruction from hidden fire. As you are checking the master bedroom you notice the other firefighter slip some valuable property into their pocket. What would you do?”
At this very point you have to commit to a course of action and for me once committed I was going to stay with that decision until I was compelled to change. You see the interrogators, in my opinion wanted to see if you believed in yourself and your ability to make a decision.
I said “I wouldn’t do anything.” “Nothing?” one older man asked without looking at me. “You just watched this guy take some valuable stuff and put it in his pocket, and you wouldn’t do anything about that?” “No I’m sure he was taking it into protective custody to keep it safe.”
“You wouldn’t go to your officer and report him?” asked the friendly guy. “No, what if I did that and the officer said, yeah I know he gave it to and I have it in my office. Are you accusing him of stealing?” I made sure my back was straight. “That would look bad and potentially cause friction in the work group.”
I tried to use buzz words that would make me appear smart like “work group”. “So you would just let it go?” “Yes sir.” The third guy looked at me with a slight smile a smart ass smile is what I thought at the time. “Okay so now its a few days later and you learn he hasn’t turned the stuff in, in fact in the locker room you notice he has it in his locker. What would you do then?”
“Nothing, it’s in plain sight he obviously isn’t trying to hide the fact he has it.” “Is that the correct way to handle property?” asked the older guy. “I’m not sure, although I have a passing familiarity with the policy and procedures manual of the Colorado Springs fire department right now, I must admit I don ‘t know them by heart. This may be acceptable conduct in this particular firehouse.”
Damn I sounded smart I thought. “Well it isn’t, proper conduct, just so you know.” Said the third guy. “Now what would you do?” he asked. I had to think about this, I had to leave myself wiggle room. If I jumped right on rat the thieving bastard out, they could add information and put me in a bad situation. That’s what they did, they added information slowly so they could see if given enough information you were capable of adjusting your action to your predicament .
“I think I would remind him in a soft way that he should get that stuff turned in.” the friendly guy asked how’d you do that. “I would just say something like, hey man you still got that stuff in your locker, you better give it to the lieutenant before someone starts looking for it.”
“Okay so you do that, the stuff disappears but you find out it didn’t get turned in. Now what?” “I’d remind him again.” “How?” asked the older man. “Something simple like glad you got that stuff turned in.” “But he didn’t turn it in” said friendly guy. “Well he probably would after that.”
“Look he stole the stuff.” Said the third guy, he seemed like he was getting a little frustrated with me. I liked that. “Oh well that would change everything.” I answered.” In what way?”Asked Mr. Friendly.
“I’d have to report his actions to my officer. I believe we as firefighter have a sacred trust with the public. If we have a bad apple he makes us all look bad, and we can’t afford to have one member of this organization tarnishing our reputation.” ”How would you handle the reaction of your co-workers if they didn’t agree?”
“I would remind them of that fact, we have a trust with the public that is granted to no other organization. If they don’t understand that then I guess I have to take the consequences of that decision whatever they were. I can’t let peer pressure effect who I am as a representative of this organization.”
Damn I was giving my shit, I have no idea what they thought of my performance, but I did get the job. More tomorrow.