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It feels like a lifetime waiting but I finally got my unconditional offer from Staffordshire Fire and Rescue!

I applied for Staffs maybe 11 years ago, making it all the way through to the interview. Young, naive, nervous, and underprepared. I remember parking up, going in, being told the interview would last about 45 minutes, and walking out about 15 minutes later having spat my answers at the interviewers. This was the furthest I’d got having failed at the application twice for Shropshire, and the West Mids campaign being stopped half way through in preceding years.

Fast forward to January 2018; seeing a Shropshire FRS firefighter heading in to the gym after a night shift - something twigged and I looked to see if there was any recruitment campaigns open.

Initial steps were to complete an online application which was pretty straight forward. This was followed by some online assessments - time to dig out the 20 year old psychometric tests book!  

Verbal reasoning wasn’t too difficult; it was a pass and on to the calculation test - cue the sweaty palms. My maths is normally pretty good but the time limits and format had my heart racing! There were a couple more around personality characteristics nothing too taxing.

The day of the ‘Job Related Tests’ I had a nightmare; took a wrong turn and got stuck in traffic. I’d gone from calm and ready to well… I’m sure you can imagine. I made it with about 5 minutes to spare.

We were told that if we failed on any test during the day we’d be going home - no pressure.

The experience was awesome, all of the staff providing just the right amount of encouragement. I went in confident in my ability with a little apprehension on the equipment assembly.

I was the last to do the equipment carry - ‘You ready? Just put it in and show them how much you want it.’ were the words I won’t forget. I don’t remember my time, just the burning lungs that stayed with me through the memory test and on my drive home!

A few people have talked about the memory test in the forums, essentially a passage is read and you are asked questions. Throughout the day we were repeatedly told to stay switched on as this is where people failed.

Next up was the assessment centre. Presentation, Interview, and Group Discussion. In the lead up to this day I’d ordered the interview workbook from the store, I’d read pretty much all of the forum posts, and spent time with a friend who is a watch manager in Shropshire. In comparison to the preparation all those years back it was night and day.

I wrote my answers and examples, my friend reviewed them against the generic BARS and gave me pointers. I recorded them and listened but I never practiced being asked them. It’s just not how I learn. I think it’s important to do what's best for you as opposed to what worked for someone else.

I literally lived all things Fire and Rescue Service, it helped me understand the competencies in more detail without learning them word for word.

On the way to the room I was talking to the interviewers - we got on to the last time I was there to which they replied ‘Let’s try to not let that happen again!’

Presentation was first followed by the interview, I was lucky. There was a topic that allowed me to talk about a passion and something I knew a lot about.

This was followed by the interview. All that preparation… the questions were all COMPLETELY different. The style, the format… flustered me for a little bit. But when I took it for what it was it became a conversation, and I actually quite enjoyed it. I’ll be sure to share the questions in the interview thread I remembered most of them.

The group discussion was next, possibly my weakest area. I went in as me... Damien. Not to take anything away from others but some went in determined to be remembered. I figured they’d want to know the Damien who’d be sat at the mess table.

‘What are the characteristics of a hero?’ was written on the 5th or 6th card to hit the table. I responded first - ‘It’s got to be a cape right?!’ The station managers marking all laughed, my peers not so much - there were some questionable responses. I walked out to a thumbs up! I left that day thinking I couldn’t have done any better than I did. If I didn’t get through I knew I’d give it everything.

This is where it got interesting - sat at work refreshing my emails. The one I’d been waiting for…

I read it twice… UNSUCCESSFUL. My heart stopped, initial thoughts were what more could I have done? Where did I fall down? I quickly emailed for feedback. Returning to my inbox to see another email from the same place…

‘CONGRATULATIONS… we’re inviting you to the fitness test’

I had no idea what was going on. I’d text people to tell them bad news. I had to call HR to see which email I was supposed to get. She went away to check for 30 seconds which felt like 30 minutes… then came the apologies and confirmation I was through. I’d gone from nearly crying to nearly crying - roller-coaster of emotions would be an understatement!

Fitness test and medical to come. At this stage I needed to put in some work.

I’d read the forums, seen issues people had or were having with medicals. I had a shoulder operation in January that could have been a stumbling block. Whilst fully rehabilitated, I needed to prove that in advance of the medical. I contacted both my physio and consultant to get them to write reports detailing my injury, procedure and recovery. Come the day of the medical all was fine, the reports were more than enough information for the Occ. Health department.

I owe a lot of the success on my journey so far to everyone that’s contributed in the forums, people that have been in the service for years, people that have been through the process, people that are still trying.

This community really is invaluable - hopefully I’ll be able to help and support others and become a more active member of it.

Next stop - Training School!

P.S - I apologise for it being so long, I did try and cut it down!

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Congratulations Damien, well done. :)

No need to apologise for the length of the post, gives an excellent insight into the complete recruitment process and the effort required.

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Well done mate, good to see posts that are reflective of the process both mentally and physically, i love reading them as they show the applicants true desire for the job

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Totally agree, no need to apologise for the lengthy post, I wish others would contribute in the same way and take a leaf out of your book ;)

Congratulations and Im glad the forum has assisted you. I do hope you do stay and offer advice from the "other side" very soon :), many say they will, few actually do.

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Thanks for the messages and support guys. Every step it become more and more real, now it doesn't feel real at all. I'm sure it will when I'm running that hose! ? Can't wait to get started!

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Congratulations and what a detailed and informative post!.  You can see the preparation that clearly went in to your successful application.

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