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The Oral Exam / Interview

The oral exam (interview) is an important step in the Cadet Ranger/Lifeguard selection process.  The interview accounts for 100% of your exam score.  Applicants who pass the oral interview (score 70% or higher) are then ranked based upon their scores.  An applicant's ranking will determine the following:

1. Whether or not the applicant will be invited to participate in the Physical Agility Test (PAT). Only the higher ranking applicants are invited to this next stage of the Selection Process.

2. The applicant's priority in his or her choosing a work location once eventually hired and assigned to a training academy.  Employees with the highest standing have first choice of available work assignments.

The Oral Interview Panel

The interview panel is comprised of people who are interested in you as a candidate. Each panel member has been trained to work professionally with you and to create an atmosphere in which you are comfortable.  

The interview panel will consist of the following:

 Chairperson - This person represents the State Personnel Board and is responsible for ensuring a fair and equitable exam for everyone.

 State Service Representatives - These individuals have served as and/or supervised State Park Peace Officers.

The Oral Exam / Interview

You will receive a Notification Letter as to when and where to appear for your interview.  When you arrive for your interview, you will be given an opportunity to review the set of questions which will be asked of all the applicants.  There may also be a short writing assignment to complete prior to going before the interview panel.

All exam interviews are recorded and timed.  After a brief introduction by the Chair, you will be asked the same questions you just reviewed.  Often, the first question is one designed to help the panel get to know you better.

The following are types of questions that may be asked. These are sample questions only; do not rely solely on these questions. Create your own questions. Practice interviewing with family, friends or coworkers.

Sample Questions for "Getting to Know the Candidate"

 Tell us about yourself and why you want this job.

 What are you doing in your current position?

 Tell us why you are qualified for this position?

 What are your career goals?

 How have you prepared yourself for this position?

Subsequent questions are directly related to the duties of the position. For example, you might be asked situational questions such as, "What would you do if you were told there was a man in the campground who was threatening to kill himself with a gun?"  Answers do not require specific knowledge of the Department’s policies and procedures but do require common sense and an ability to think through a problem. At the closure of the interview, sample questions may be:
 Do you have anything you would like to add to the interview?

 Please summarize your qualifications.

 Is there anything you would like to ask before this interview is finished?

These final questions are open-ended and give you an opportunity to highlight your skills, qualifications, and interest in the job. In closing, take this opportunity to highlight your qualifications.

Candidates may tend to be nervous during their interview. The panel expects this and will not give you a low score just because you are nervous. Your job is to present your qualifications and to respond to questions that relate to areas listed in the "Scope" Section of the Exam Bulletin for State Park Peace Officer Cadet (Ranger/Lifeguard).

We thank you for considering a career with the California State Parks. Please consider that most examinations are very competitive, and you may score well but not be ranked high enough to be invited to the next stage. You may be disappointed but try not to be discouraged. If you take a disciplined approach to preparing for written exams and oral exam interviews, you will eventually be successful.

We wish you the best of luck in your career.