City of Santa Clara
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Staff Aide I for the Fire Department Interview

Staff Aide I for the Fire Department
Santa Clara, CA

I applied online and the process took 3 months - interviewed at City of Santa Clara in October 2013.

Interview Details – As with all government jobs, the process can be lengthy and exhausting. I applied for this position online in August. I took the written exam at the beginning of September and had a panel interview later that month. I had the department interview in the middle of October and am waiting for the results.

The panel interview consisted of representatives from other cities and at the county level. This is because the City of Santa Clara's Fire Department is a CUPA agency that works with other agencies. The panel interview was rushed and I was told that my time was being highly monitored because the person who interviewed before me "ran over" on their time. I appreciated their monitoring, but felt it was unfair simply because they did not control the previous interviewee properly. However, I was grateful to be there so I didn't comment about it. Yet, I felt caught off guard and think I might have interviewed better if those circumstances didn't arise.

In any case, I passed the panel interview and was invited for a department interview. This was with the Fire Chief, Deputy Fire Chief, and Fire Marshal. I really liked this interview because it seemed, for the first time in a long time, that the interviewers actually cared about my answers and were really listening. If I was asked question XXX, my answer was "blah, blah, blah". I appreciated that the interviewers asked me for further details by stating, "And what was the staff's response when you implemented xxxxxxx?". This interview seemed much more than the typical canned interview where everybody asks the same questions and the same answers are always given.

I actually enjoyed the interview and felt that I was able to give a true representation as to my experience, perspective, and work methods. Kudos to those who created the department interview questions and the interviewers!!

Interview Question – All applicants were asked not to share the questions asked during the interview process to make it fair for other/future applicants. However, what I can say is that the panel and department questions were typical and ones I've heard in many other interviews. Examples: why do you want to work here, what makes you most qualified, how do you deal with irate customers, how you do deal with co-workers who aren't doing their jobs, etc.

During the panel interview, I was given 20 minutes to answer 8 questions. You might think that this is easy, but the first question alone made me understand why each answer period could/should have been longer. Example: Tell us about your educational background, your work experience, and what makes you most qualified for this position. This was just QUESTION NUMBER # 1. This wasn't three separate questions.

As I mentioned in the above Hiring and Interview Process section, the department interview was a much better process. The questions were not multi-part, run-on sentences. They were shorter, but were more specific as to actual scenarios and examples.
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