Chairman's Interview...

So, recently I noticed in the chairman’s award information that an adult mentor could also enter for the interview… We don’t plan on doing this, but we were wondering if anyone who had done this had won in the past? If it’s the case that everyone in chairman’s award history has had a mentor in the interview then we might rethink our teams.

I don’t personally think it should matter if a mentor is in there or not to win it. It’s obviously what you have done, and you just need to be able to present all of that in 5 minutes. We have a good team for the interview right now, but some of the mentors were wondering if any mentors had gone in in the past with success. Thanks in advance.

The mentor is only allowed as an observer as I understand. The full effect of the interview is based on the presentation of the students. We found that practice makes perfect, and a full understanding of team history is crucial. Your Chairman’s team should talk to mentors and graduated students to get a feel for what the team has accomplished and the impact it has had on others. By giving them a full background and practice they will be prepared for the questions that will come later. Have your presenters practice before the whole team and have the team and mentors ask questions to help them prepare.
Boy Scout Motto…Be Prepared.
How do you get to Carnegie Hall…Practice, practice, practice!

Hi Brad,

A lot of this depends on your individual situation. I have had friends that worked so closely with a mentor throughout build that it helped them to have that moral support in the room with them. Other teams prefer to send only students. It sounds like your Chairman’s crew is comfortable without a mentor in attendance, so I think you should be OK.

Good luck!

For my team’s interview, we had a team of three students (2 juniors and 1 senior). Our mentor did not accompany us, but he did coach us beforehand. In fact, I believe in my regional that mentors were expected to be completely absent from the room during the interview. (I didn’t observe any mentors entering the room during the regional OR Nationals)

The interview itself isn’t only 5 minutes. You get 5 minutes straight of presentation, where you basically talk about what you feel are the most important points in your Team’s submission. Then for the next 5-10 minutes the judges will ask you questions.

My advice? Get a well rounded presentation team, preferably of people who’ve been around 2 or more years. Avoid the use of negative language while speaking, for example, avoid saying things such as “The program was threatened by budget issues”. You’re more than welcome putting that in your essay. Use your interview to touch on things that aren’t in your 10,000 characters. If they have any questions about your written presentation, they’ll ask you.

Other than that, just keep your cool. Mind your Ps & Qs, speak with articulation, make eye contact, have a firm handshake etc. Best of luck to you!

Hi. We won it twice while doing that at the Peachtree regional in 2004 and 2005. We don’t do it anymore.
Good luck

It appears that the all-students for interview has changed this year to students and/or mentors, based on what is written the manual. Somebody might ask for a clarification on the role of the mentor in the Q & A.
Practicing the interview presentation (5 minutes) is important to get the timing right. It is hard to be cut off, right as you are getting to the most important part, because you are out of time.

Alright, thanks guys. So it seems that mentors haven’t been allowed in in the past… Anyways, our team is definitely prepared in my opinion. We’ve started practicing and it looks good. Thanks again.

Previous years have said that mentors were allowed.

We have always had three students do the interview, with lots of practice and coaching before hand.

Just as clarification. Last year (2006) was the first (and only to date) year that the manual prohibited mentors being part of the 3-person presentation team. The reverted back to allowing them this year.

Practice in front of the entire team (it’s hard to keep a straight face in front of your peers sometimes), and then practice in front of some adults you’ve never met before. Remember that the judges may not be that familiar with FIRST so avoid saying things that only “insiders” would understand.

NEMO has published a white paper, Judging Hints at the Regionals, which talks about interacting with the judges outside of the Chairman’s interview that might be useful to review with your team.

In 2004 we used two students and a mentor at the Great Lakes Regional. We were done when we entered the room. The judges comments on the sheet said, “We want to hear from the kids!” So my recommendation is use only students. You will have to coach them on the team legacy. (That is why we chose to use an adult.)

Also, I always used at least one non-senior on the presentation team. This meant that I had a student that had gone thru the presentation process, to mentor the presentators the following year–tell them what to expect and what types of questions the judges asked.

I went in the room in 2003, only to observe and learn so that future students could benefit from these observations. I told the judges I would only speak if they had a mentor level question for me. I kept silent almost the entire presentation and only spoke when spoken too. The only exception was when the judges had a historical question which my students could not have possibly answered. Even when I thought my team was getting off track I kept my mouth closed. It was their time to perform. In a strange way I think my silence showed the trust I had in my students. We won that year.

Since that time we have sent in only students. It is their thing, in my opinion. But it is good for an adult on the team to understand what they will go through, so that you can prepare them for this challenge.

Be careful with the “mentor in the interview room” thing. Last year our team decided to share at the last second and what they decided to share was whatever sick bug was going around. So poor Abraham had to go in alone (we had a very small team and a broken robot at that point). It was only after explaining the rather poorly timed situation that they allowed me to go in as an observer/answerer-of-questions-that-Abraham-didn’t-know-the-answer-to-because-he-was-in-engineering-and-hadn’t-gotten-to-study-the-submission-well-person.

So just as a warning, don’t count on being able to have mentors in the room…