FDNY’S EASY PASS

New York Post - - NEWS - By SU­SAN EDEL­MAN su­san.edel­man@ny­post.com

Ap­pli­cants for the cur­rent FDNY fire­fighter en­trance ex­ams have been coached how to an­swer ques­tions in the “per­son­al­ity” sec­tion — which is worth half their score.

The Vul­can So­ci­ety, a group of black fire­fight­ers, and pri­vate test­prep com­pa­nies tell can­di­dates how to re­spond when asked about their char­ac­ter traits such as mo­ti­va­tion, team­work and at­ti­tude about drugs.

“We want you to be hon­est tak­ing your FDNY exam,” says a Vul­can test-prep book ob­tained by The Post. But then it spells out spe­cific re­sponses the test-taker should give “that we feel are im­por­tant in de­ter­min­ing how well you will do on this ex­am­i­na­tion.”

The coach­ing alarms crit­ics who say can­di­dates can give the cor­rect an­swers — whether true or not — to por­tray them­selves as ideal fire­fight­ers.

“They’re teach­ing you what to say to pass,” one first re­spon­der said. “If you know the an­swers they’re look­ing for, it de­feats the pur­pose of screen­ing out peo­ple not suited for the job.”

More than 70,000 ap­pli­cants signed up for the fire­fighter ex­ams that kicked off this month — the city’s first since 2012, when the FDNY re­vised the test un­der court or­ders to boost mi­nor­ity hir­ing. The Vul­can So­ci­ety took part in re­vamp­ing the exam and in­vited black ap­pli­cants to prep ses­sions.

Of 100 pos­si­ble points, ap­pli­cants can score up to 15 for read­ing com­pre­hen­sion, 35 for an­swer­ing mul­ti­ple-choice ques­tions on videos they can watch three times and 50 on per­son­al­ity ques­tions, doc­u­ments show. (Up to 35 bonus points can be awarded for mil­i­tary ser­vice, NYC res­i­dency and if a par­ent or sib­ling was a fire­fighter killed on duty.)

The per­son­al­ity sec­tion gives ap­pli­cants a se­ries of state­ments and asks them to choose a re­sponse: Strongly Agree, Agree, Not Sure, Dis­agree or Strongly Dis­agree.

The Vul­can So­ci­ety gives spe­cific an­swers on top­ics such as han­dling stress, steal­ing, de­pend­abil­ity and team­work —“the num­ber one area of fail­ure for fire­fighter ap­pli­cants.”

For in­stance, the tu­to­rial gives this state­ment: “When I am work­ing on a task, I of­ten feel an­noyed when other peo­ple come up to me and ask me for my opin­ion or ad­vice.” The right an­swer, the Vul­cans say, is “Strongly Dis­agree.”

On hon­esty and so­bri­ety, the tu­to­rial says, ap­pli­cants should “Strongly Dis­agree” to all of these state­ments: “1) Ev­ery­one know­ingly over­draws his/her bank ac­count. 2) I have bought an item when I know it was stolen. 3) I have cheated on my in­come tax. 4) It is all right for a per­son to use il­le­gal drugs at home pro­vided he/she doesn’t use them at work.”

The Vul­can So­ci­ety urges test­tak­ers to pick “strongly” an­swers to look de­ci­sive: “We highly rec­om­mend that you never, ever an­swer ‘Not Sure!’ This gives the ap­pear­ance of wa­ver­ing, be­ing wishy­washy and be­ing un­sure of your de­ci­sions.”

A com­mer­cial test-prep com­pany, JobTestPrep.com, like­wise de­scribes many de­sir­able fire­fighter traits the FDNY exam will seek but gives slightly dif­fer­ent ad­vice: “The ideal pro­file shouldn’t be ex­treme.” It warns to tone down some re­sponses to avoid rais­ing red flags.

Gideon Segev, a JobTestPrep vice pres­i­dent, said his com­pany — which charges $39.99 for online FDNY study guides and prac­tice ques­tions — is a valu­able ser­vice.

“It’s a sur­vival game,” Segev said. “If you don’t have a job, you can­not make it in the mod­ern world. Why shouldn’t an ap­pli­cant know what the per­son­al­ity test will look for?”

An­other test-prep com­pany sell- ing study guides for civil-ser­vice ex­ams, Net­work4Learn­ing, has a YouTube video on the FDNY “psy­cho­log­i­cal sec­tion.” It in­structs ap­pli­cants to “strongly agree” with state­ments such as: “I never become an­gry at work” and to “strongly dis­agree” with state­ments such as “Work is a huge stres­sor.”

Say­ing fire­fight­ers must be trusted not to steal when en­ter­ing peo­ple’s homes, it warns that “ques­tions should not be an­swered with any in­di­ca­tion of past dis­hon­est be­hav­ior.”

A vet­eran fire­fighter noted, “This video tells peo­ple to be hon­est, yet to only an­swer ques­tions a cer­tain way, which may very well be dis­hon­est.”

The FDNY’s of­fi­cial online tu­to­rial does not ad­dress the per­son­al­ity sec­tion.

“Can­di­dates should an­swer per­son­al­ity and trait ques­tions to the best of their own abil­i­ties and judg­ment,” said spokesman Frank Dwyer.

As a re­sult of the Vul­can So­ci­ety’s fed­eral race-dis­crim­i­na­tion law­suit, the FDNY en­trance test no longer in­cludes ques­tions on fire­fight­ing so not to give an edge to those fa­mil­iar with the work, The Post has re­ported.

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