By Jordan Cooke, Staff Reporter
SELMA -- Four firefighters, including one local candidate, will take part in a series of exercises next week to determine which one of them will become Selma's first full-time, paid fire chief.
Town Manager Stan Farmer said Selma would pay a private consultant about $3,000 to conduct the daylong assessment of the four candidates. The consultant will bring in "subject matter experts" who will test the hopefuls' leadership skills and level of firefighting knowledge.
"These kinds of methods are becoming more and more common nowadays among employers," Farmer said. "In the 21st century, it's just not enough anymore to look at a resume and ask standard questions. You can see more about a potential employee through role playing than through a question-and-answer session."
In all, 15 people, including three or four from outside of North Carolina, applied for the job, which has been the subject of controversy. Many Selma firefighters oppose the hiring of a chief who would answer to the town manager, not the volunteers. And in June, nine firefighters found themselves in hot water for dumping their gear in the yard of Mayor Charles Hester in protest.
Farmer said firefighters would play no role in the hiring of a chief, but he said the decision to exclude them had nothing to do with tensions between Town Hall and the fire station.
"Actually, I was originally going to have two of them come in as assessors for the interview exercises," Farmer said. "But then I realized that since one of the candidates is an internal applicant, it wouldn't be professional or ethical to have co-workers assessing one of their colleagues."
Farmer said the four finalists are from North Carolina. He hopes to name a chief by late October.
One comment regarding the quote by Stan Farmer,
"These kinds of methods are becoming more and more common nowadays among employers. In the 21st century, it's just not enough anymore to look at a resume and ask standard questions. You can see more about a potential employee through role playing than through a question-and-answer session."Well, Stan, this is NOTHING new. This has been the case in the field of emergency services for a century now. Most everyone I know who was hired as a grunt firefighter, promoted to a leadership position, or was interviewed for other emergency services positions has been through a skills battery. I have personally interviewed for many jobs in the fire and safety business in different capacities, both in civilian circles and for governmental organizations. Every one of them asked skills related questions, had a standard testing methodology, or had interview boards of experts in the field of work. Not that I have a real problem with paying $3000 for a consultant, but that fee could easily have been avoided by asking the right people for assistance in the decision taking process. I have a list of people we could have invited and probably not had to pay a dime. Oh, well.