Dean's List questions for other semi finalists, finalists and winners

Hello, I have been nominated as the first Dean’s List Semi Finalist for team 6032 and I was hoping if anyone that has been chosen to be on Dean’s List in the past would be willing to provide some tips and general understanding of Judging, preparation etc. Thank You!

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There was a post about this earlier today so I’m stealing parts of my post in there.

Overall I don’t think there’s a “cheat code” to a successful interview. Just be yourself. Being nominated already speaks volumes about your passion and impact on your team. Let that shine through and you can’t go wrong. Everything after is is dependents on what the judging team decides to do.

“Tell me about yourself and your time in FIRST” was the first question of both my interviews. You can lead it in whatever direction you want, so it’s a good question if you have some key points you want to cover. As you talk about whatever it is, the judges might take notes and ask questions for things they want you to elaborate on. However, it totally depends on what the judges want to do. They might probe right from the start as well.

Know the content of the nomination essay. Those will help you frame your answers. Also use the interview as a time to emphasize any points that might have been missed/glossed over in the essay.

Congrats on your accomplishments and good luck!


There is no one type of person that consistently wins Dean’s List at events at any level. Don’t try to tell the judges what you think they want to hear because all they want to hear is your story, not anybody else’s.

The interviews go by very quickly. My first interview was relatively long and I was probably asked over 10 questions. My second interview (at the Regional which I won Dean’s List Finalist) went by much more quickly and I was asked closer to five questions. Be sure that if there is any information you really want to make sure the judges know, you get it out in the first few questions. Regardless of the questions asked, you can get across the same information - all that matters is how you frame your answer.

There are lots of sample questions when you search this forum so I won’t bother posting them directly here. But please feel free to ask some specific questions about things you’re still wondering about. Lots of us would love to help if we know the questions.


As in “Frame” the answers from nomination essay/my story would it be a good idea to make a bullet list or list of what I have done and what my story is so that I may remember what to bring up when asked the question, @jaredhk @pkrishna3082

Do whatever works for you. If it would help you to make a list, do that. Just be careful not to over-rehearse or memorize your answer too much as the judges may feel like you are not being genuine.

Additionally, it is possible that there is information not included in your essay which you would like to bring up in conversation. For example, after my essay was submitted, I started working on a few other projects which would have been great to include in the essay so I was sure to bring them up. Even during the event, I was running a scouting alliance of 10 teams and working as a Student Ambassador so I was sure to tell the judges that (when they asked what I did on my team, I talked about my role at the competition, as well as a good segway).

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I would expect the first few questions to be fairly open-ended so that you can push the discussion towards whatever you want it to be.

Any time I go into an interview, I like to have some key talking points. Don’t bring a note card with you, just remember 3-4 things you want to cover and try and push the questions towards those talking points. I have used this technique in job interviews, Dean’s List interviews, Science Fair judging, college interviews, scholarship interviews, etc. It seems to be a good strategy. The key is to just use them as guides – don’t “memorize” answers because it’ll seem forced.

For example, one of the things I wanted to talk about was team growth via aggressive fundraising and recruitment. When they ask “tell us about your time in FIRST” or similar at the beginning, I took it as an opportunity to walk through my years on the team, starting at when I was a freshman (8 people and a potato robot) to the present.

Conciseness is still important. As @jaredhk mentioned, the interviews are really quick.

Sidenote: I was also a student ambassador like Jared (at champs in 2017). I thought it was pretty cool to tell the interviewers at 2018 North Star on Friday that “I hope to go back to champs, but this time with the team” and then punch our ticket there on Saturday.

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Thank you guys! Really Helps!

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I’ve been thinking more about this since my initial reply. One piece of advice which I like to give is that you should never answer a question with “No.” Most interviewers won’t ask questions for which you could answer no but sometimes it will happen. For example, if you are asked if you interact with other FIRST programs, even if you don’t directly interact with them, come up with an answer (perhaps you discuss your relationship with other FRC teams or other clubs). Or, if you are asked to describe your technical experience and you primarily are a non-technical person, don’t say that you don’t have technical expertise but identify your niche. In other words, you can always spin a question to be able to answer it.


You can talk about it but they won’t ask about any of that


Sign up for a time slot is at Pit Admin on Practice Day. Unfortunately, you do not know the Qual schedule until Qual day. They told me if anything interfered, just go to Pit Admin for a trade.

The interview at CNY was 6 minutes long.
First question they asked me was “Did you get a chance to look over your nomination essay?”
Then the questions are quick. I think they are either based off of the essay or mainly what the judges wanted to know about.
The one question that is still stuck in my head was “How do you display your leadership?” I never got to fully answer this as I had taken too long on the others and I also had a pretty long pause for 6 minutes. Another (BIG) problem was I completely blanked out on what to say for my leadership.

Something to think about (thoroughly) is what you have been doing during regular build season, preseason and maybe offseason.
How do the members not on the leadership know when the meetings are?
Do you send out an email to them?
Is there a group chat?
Do you personally work the schedule with the mentors where other members don’t?
Then there was a question of sponsorship. [How do you get sponsors] or something, I can’t remember.

I personally dressed up for the interview. I don’t think it is required, correct me please, but since this was a once-in-a-lifetime event, i decided to.

Many of you are saying you had 2 interview sessions. Is this only available at certain events? If not, I would’ve signed up for a second one.

This is incorrect. For starters, there’s no way to know that judges will or won’t ask about something - there is leeway and a judge could ask anything. I was asked in both of my interviews about outside volunteering/outreach. Always relate your answers back to FIRST if you can but judges certainly like well-rounded candidates.

If you were nominated in both 10th and 11th grade (or equivalent internationally) by your team, you will have two interviews: one each year.

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Oops. Missed out last year.
Just gotta propel others now.

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Look nice but represent your team.

Personally, the two biggest things that helped me were reading the compass alliance’s one page document about the interview that has sample questions( and then doing a practice interview with a teacher I was close with. Since there’s some discussion about it, I’ll add that I interviewed in my team’s shirt and jeans.

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like they say. “If it works, It works”

This is for district level people, especially FIM. There’s no real description of what happens to Dean’s List nominees so I struggled with understanding what was going on lol.

You’ll get an email telling you which district competition you will be interviewing at. At this competition you will also be competing with other Dean’s List nominees. During the awards ceremony, the Dean’s List award goes to one semi-finals and they will be competing for the finalist position at the state championship. At states, you don’t do anything more, and based on the nomination essay and the notes taken during your district interview, they’ll award a bunch of Semi-finalists with the finalist title and then you can go to worlds and party on!

That’s essentially what will happen structurally, but here are a few tips for Dean’s List:
I would talk a lot both about your role on the team as well as your role in furthering FIRST in your community. When I looked at a lot of Dean’s List finalists and winners, a lot of them came from highly technical and/or chairman’s heavy teams.
A glowing nominations essay might be the most important aspect to this award (both because it’s a recommendation letter and because interview notes can only tell someone so much) but you have no control over this.
Before the interview, review over your accomplishments, any traits you could display and talk about with examples, and any service projects that spread the message of FIRST.

But no matter the outcome, being on the Dean’s List is an amazing feat so congrats!

This is a grammatically confusing question. I’d use the fact that it is a confusing question to your advantage to showcase whatever you want. I could interpret/answer it any number of ways:

  • In what ways do you personally participate in FIRST at school?
  • What is the presence of FIRST on your campus?
  • What do you personally do on your FIRST team?
  • What are activities that your FIRST team does?
  • How do you use FIRST in other activities at your school?

If said it before but I’ll say it again: as with most Dean’s List interview questions (and interview questions in general), you can frame your answer however you’d like. This is especially true with ambiguous questions. If you’re not answering what the judges want you to say, they won’t be afraid to let you know. If you’re very stuck, you can always ask for clarification and most judges won’t mind rephrasing. At the end of the day, judges want you to succeed and want to have as positive of a dialogue as possible. It doesn’t do a judge any good to intentionally confuse you so in this case I’d assume a judge’s best intentions.

One of the huge things with my interview was the issue of using ‘I did X.’ For me, that’s hard to do, as I view myself as a huge part of the team, and I automatically use we.

I actually have a question (probably for Indiana FIRST people), at districts, I was chosen as one of the two Dean’s List, but I haven’t heard what happens next. I haven’t received an email, and was wondering what happens at state? I heard behind my back the mention of an interview at state, but I am wondering, what happens at state? Do the six total nominees get interviewed again? Do they get narrowed down to even fewer people? I have so many questions and I don’t want to do anything wrong.

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In previous years, the semifinalists have not been re-interviewed at state.

They try to get all 6 of you to state for recognition, even if your team isn’t attending the championship.

Your lead mentor should be getting an email from the Lead Dean’s list judge with details. Check with him/her.