Dean's List Interview

Hello! I was recently nominated by my team for Dean’s List in Virginia. I am one of two lead programmers of my team and help out with setting up outreach events for my team and local students to attend. What are some recommendations for the interview? Should I bring any extra recommendations from mentors, coaches, teachers, etc for the interviewers/reviewers to read?

One last thing that I am curious about,
if my team does not make it to state/regionals and I was selected as a Finalist (since the Reviewers select finalists before state/regionals), would I be removed from being a Finalist or will FIRST contact me or my coach? How does that work?

Congratulations!! I don’t have much to say for the first part, as I’m probably going to be asking some of the same questions as you as we get closer to the competition date.
As far as I am aware for that last bit (at least this is how it works in NE) even if your team does not move on, you would go to the event as a candidate. When I was a student ambassador at worlds, a lot of the other ambassadors were students who were Dean’s List finalized whose team’s didn’t make it to Worlds. They chose to help out as ambassadors instead which was really cool. Some people may be able to speak more to how it works in your region specifically.

Is the transit to worlds payed by FIRST or no?

I do not believe so, but someone can fact check me on this. I know we were concerned about this a few years ago on my old team when we nominated someone for the Woodie Flowers Award who was a strong candidate but may not have been able to make the trip if he qualified. Unfortunately he did not move on, but if he did there was discussion of seeing the team could subsidize some of the travel costs. I’m not sure if the situation is different for Dean’s List.

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Hi! Deans List Winner from last year here.

My recommendations for you for your interview is:

1: Think of and answer possible questions they might have. They may ask you questions such as “how do you exude gracious professionalism?”, “What are you most proud of doing during your time in FIRST?”, “How do you contribute to your team?”, so think of how you can best answer questions like these.

2: Think about talking points. There might be things that you want to make sure the judges know about you, so try to think about how you could talk about it, possibly in the context of the questions you come up with.

3: Take a deep breath and relax! You shouldn’t get too stressed out about it. Just be yourself, and you’ll be just fine; You’ve already been nominated, which says a lot.

To answer your other questions:

I don’t think you really need to. If you want to bring something, you could bring in a resume, or maybe a writeup on a project you did, or even something you are proud of (I’ve heard of people bringing in robot mechanisms). I think that if you bring in something, I think it would be best if it came directly from you, which shows a lot more about who you are, and your passion for FIRST/STEM.

Nope, you will still be a Finalist. Some of the other winners from this past year didn’t make it past regionals either. How well your team does in competition doesn’t really affect your nomination.

Edit: I noticed your other question:

I don’t think so. the other person who got nominated for my state in FTC payed for it themselves iirc.


When I was nominated last year, I found these to be quite helpful:

(I do not recall who I got them from, but they are not mine)

To answer on a more personal level, remember to breathe. The above questions are quite accurate and can help you there, but make sure to stay calm during the interview. I am not one for public speaking, so the interview process was quite stressful for me. The biggest piece of advice I can give you is to breathe, and think about your response. Try to leave out as many “like” or “ums” as you can. Take a second, think about your answer, and then respond. You will sound much more professional, and it will help you to stay calm. The judges understand that it’s stressful, so taking a moment to answer is not a big deal. Just answer from your heart. If you’re passionate about what you do, answers will come easy once you get going. Remember, it’s a conversation.

I hope this helps. Congratulations and good luck!

EDIT: Pay attention to if you fidget. I had no idea how much I fidgeted until I was prepping for chairmans. It’s extremely difficult for me to stop, due to me doing it for so long. Something I did to help with this is I simply brought a pen in with me. I just held it in my lap. Nobody questioned it, but it allowed me to quietly cap and uncap it, and just move it around in my hands. It helped tremendously and looked a lot better than tapping my foot or constantly moving. Just something to look out for


That second document (Interview Preparation) is mine, so feel free to ask any questions you have about it. I’m a 2017 Dean’s List Finalist and have worked with many Dean’s List candidates from my team and others to help prepare them.

I’ll echo Cole: think through every single possible question, particularly the really broad ones, they tend to catch students off guard (there’s the classic: “tell me about yourself” that trips up a lot of nominees). You should have some sort of list of things in your mind that you want the judges to know before you leave the interview room, brainstorming that with a close teammate or mentor is a good idea as they’ll often bring up amazing things you did that you didn’t realize were amazing. When answering questions, the most important tip I can give you (that I have in all caps on the document) is show don’t tell. Share stories of your leadership ability, your contributions, and impact on your team and community rather than just saying, “I’m a leader” or “I’m a driven individual”. Prove it with stories that demonstrate those characteristics about you. Kaitlyn is absolutely correct in saying to answer with your heart. Let your passion show.

And practice interviews are great. Asking past Finalists and Winners in your area works, or even a video chat since that’s an acceptable method. Happy to do that with you if you need it.


I got tripped up when the judges asked me to talk about my past before FIRST and I legit wasted time thinking of where to start.

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Don’t read into the amount of time the interview takes. I was nominated in 10th and 11th grades. In 10th, the interview lasted quite a long time. I did not win at that event. In 11th, though, the interview was under ten minutes. I won the DLFA at that event. Time flies but don’t read into it.

Also, sample questions:

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speaking of time, my interview was about 7-10 minutes, and they set the timer on their phone.

Reading this reminded me of something:

Even if you prepare questions and answers, things you want to say, etc. don’t be too uptight about it. Talk to the judges as if they were your parents, or someone close to you (ofc you still need to show gp and respect). Imo you want to be able to have more of a genuine conversation with them, rather than something like a chairmans presentation. You don’t necessarily need to be professional professional, but think of it more as business casual. Whether you know the judges or not, they are trying to get to know you as a person, so being more personable is important. So if you choose to prepare answers to questions, don’t memorize it, and instead just remember the gist of what you want to say. Doing so can not only make preparation not only a little easier for you, but it can also make you speak more like yourself, and not a scripted version of yourself.
I probably said umm a lot though


Yeah, it’s gonna take a bit of effort for me to stay quiet instead of saying umm or like but it most stressful part is trying to figure out how to answer the questions with detail but so its not the entire 5 minutes

If i get that question, since i did one year of FLL in 5th grade, do I talk about life before then or before i became actively interested in FIRST with FTC (9th grade)

For me, i talked about about how i grew up in Manhattan, NYC, then moved upstate in 3rd grade and during 3-4th grade, i played with legos which was part for the spark for STEM. And then what i did on the team.

I highly advise against this route, as it gets super cloudy adding onto the fact that your listeners probably won’t understand a single thing about your life (unless they have similarities)

If i can have another chance at this, i would go less of NYC, and more about myself in FIRST, and what FIRST did for me, how my life changed because of that.

With FLL, i dont know how that will work.

I think it’s both. You might want to consider talking about how your interest in STEM evolved. You can kind of think of the question as, “Why did you join FIRST?” And then move into, “Why did you stay in FIRST?” bringing up your lessons learned and the impact FIRST made on you.

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So of course the interviewers will ask questions but is it more like a job interview where the conversation is guided by the questions asked or more like a presentation which is guided by what I want to say?

The conversation is guided by the questions they ask. The whole interview generally consists of them asking you questions, to try to get to know specific things about who you are. They will probably ask an “is there anything else you’d like to tell us?” question, but don’t rely on that to pour your heart out on, but at the same time, don’t say no.

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Another tip which I’m sure I’ve mentioned elsewhere on this forum:
Since the interview moves so quickly, it doesn’t really matter what the questions are. Have a few topics you know you want to hit and tie them into the questions which are asked, even if they don’t connect directly. It’s all in the art of the spin. Of course, you don’t want to make it sound artificial. But, if there’s content you think you need to share, share it early.

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Kind of both. The questions are your starting point and guide. Most of the students I’ve worked with were started with really open-ended questions (“tell me about yourself”, “what makes you a good Dean’s List candidate”, etc.) and then questions started focusing on things they shared to get more information about things that caught the judges ear, but it depends heavily on the judges’ style. You should be the one guiding the interview though, because you know you best and what makes you a great nominee.

I’m not sure how to ask this but do the judges read the nomination? Closely? It seems like most everything is probably in there. Should you repeat things in there or try to come up with new things to talk about?