How to have a great interview while playing cards
How many times have you left an interview and, on the way home, remembered something you forgot to talk about? You took some cards home
By Michael Keefe
Imagine your next interview as a card game.
In this game you earn points for getting rid of your cards, and the player who gets rid of all of their cards wins. Now, imagine each card contains valuable, organized, unique, and detailed information about you and your life experience. Your hand should have cards entitled "education", "work experience", "fire related experience", "life experience", "hobbies", "community involvement and personal values", and "ethics". This game could begin with the questions, Why do you want to be a firefighter? What have you done to prepare yourself? These opening questions are your first chance to get rid of a few cards. In fact, every question is an opportunity to discard. How many times have you left an interview and, on the way home, thought to yourself "I forgot to tell them about…"? You took some cards home.
So, how do you get better at this card game? First you need to earn the best cards you can. Take a critical look at your resume (and life experience) and categorize your qualifications into the following areas: education, work experience, fire related experience, life experience, hobbies, community involvement, personal values, and ethics. Use this step to gauge your qualifications. Are your cards in balance? What cards are you missing? Do you have a good hand to play? If, after looking at your cards, you don't like what you see, focus on earning the cards you need. Some need more life experience; others need education or community involvement. What cards are you missing?
Once your cards are ready to play, it's time to study them. Keep in mind, more doesn't always mean better. If you start with only a few cards, don't worry, you can gather more cards along the way. It's more important that you understand and can articulate the cards you are holding. You have to become the expert on your cards. Many times, candidates forget to mention their most important accomplishments. Never assume that the interview panel has read and will remember your resume; tell the Board about your cards! The only way to become proficient at this is to memorize your cards and then practice, practice, practice (via mock interviews).
It's now time to play your cards. Your interview is scheduled and you are ready. It's your time to shine. While in your interview, imagine each question as an opportunity to discard. You don't need to discard all of your cards at once, but the goal is to leave them all on the table by the end of the interview. In many interviews, the first and last questions are designed for you to tell the Board about yourself, but not always. Don't assume you will be asked questions that clearly ask you to discard a specific card. Some questions are subtle, others are obvious. It's your job to answer each question appropriately and efficiently. Don't let a question get by without leaving a card; you may not get another chance. If the interview panel asks you if there's anything you would like to add, say "yes" and give them your remaining cards. It's a game you can win, it just takes practice.
Visit us at www.911interviews.com to learn more about how to succeed in your next interview.