[FRC Blog] 2021 Judging & Interview Process - Frequently Asked Questions

Originally posted on the FRC Blog, 2/17/2021: 2021 Judging & Interview Process - Frequently Asked Questions | FIRST

2021 Judging & Interview Process - Frequently Asked Questions

Written by Fiona Hanlon, FIRST Robotics Competition Program Specialist

We have seen some confusion and chatter on the judging and interview process, so we put together a blog to hopefully help clarify the information.

We still need more judges to help ensure teams and volunteers have the best experience possible this season. Judges are most needed for the Game Design Challenge and INFINITE RECHARGE at Home. For more information about the judge role, check out this overview and volunteer today! If you need help finding the correct “event,” follow these step-by-step instructions!

Team Related Questions

  1. When will my interview occur?

Dates can be found within the At Home Challenges Manual in Section 2.3.4, 3.4.4, 4.4.5, and 5.2.1, and a summary of the interview windows is included in the table below.

Interview windows for 2021 judging process

Description Start End
At Home Challenges March 5th April 11th
Dean’s List
District Round 1 March 5th April 1st
District Round 2 April 11th April 25th
Regions March 5th April 11th
Chairman’s Award
District Round 1 March 12th April 1st
District Round 2 April 11th April 25th
Regions March 12th April 11th
  1. When will my interview be scheduled?

Expect to hear from your Judge Advisor a few weeks or so after the submission portals close (exact dates vary based on the challenges/awards for which you’re submitting. Refer to the At Home Challenges Manual or the FIRST Robotics Competition calendar for specific dates).

  1. Can I continue to work on my presentation and practice my interview until my interview takes place?


  1. On what platform will interviews occur?

Interviews are virtual and hosted on Microsoft Teams, but a Microsoft Teams account is not required to join the call. A free account can be used for remote interview practice (and we do recommend every team to practice so they know how to use the technology before their interview). See Using Microsoft Teams for instructions.

  1. When will award winners be announced?

Districts and Regions will host their own award show broadcasts to announce winners. These shows will recognize any teams within the Region/District that have won any award this season.

  • Expect Regions to schedule their award shows between May 9th and May 15th.
  • Districts will hold two award shows.
    • The first show recognizes Dean’s List District Championship level semi-finalists and District-level Chairman’s winners. This show should occur between April 4th – 12th.
    • The second show announces the Dean’s List Finalists, District Championship-level Chairman’s Award winners, Woodie Flower Finalists, and all other awards from the At Home Challenges. This award show should occur between May 9th and May 15th.

Some award shows may take place outside these dates. Details will be announced by local leadership once specific dates are confirmed.

  1. How do I know what Region/District I am in?

See Section 5.2 within the At Home Challenges Manual.

  1. What if my question was not answered here?

Please use the official Q&A sponsored by Autodesk or email Team Support if it is a specific question related to your team.

Judge Related Questions

  1. When will I be assigned?

Final assignments will not be made until early March. This permits us to determine the final number of submissions for each online challenge before assigning judges to one or more challenge groups.

  1. When will judging take place?

Judging will be scheduled from mid-March to mid-April. Each Judge Advisor will work directly with their judges to determine an interview schedule that works best for the judges and the teams involved.

  1. How do I indicate when I am available to volunteer if the dates within Volunteer Registration are not correct?

The dates within the system are notional, but judges can add comments when applying to let us know availability. Judge Advisors will also reach out to assigned judges to ask for availability before scheduling any interviews.

  1. How much time is required to volunteer?

We expect the time commitment, per challenge group, to be fewer than 10 hours. This includes reviewing team materials, interviews with the teams, required training, and a Judge Deliberation call to decide award winners.

  1. I have never been a judge, am I qualified?

Yes - as long as you meet the minimum age requirement (19 for At Home Challenges, 23 for Traditional Submitted Awards)! FIRST HQ will provide training so you know what is expected of you in this role. You will be paired with another judge and can ask questions directly to a trained Judge Advisor.

  1. I mentor a team, can I judge?

Yes! If you have a conflict of interest with a team (i.e., mentor, team sponsor, etc.), we will ensure you are not assigned to judge that team. You will indicate your conflict by filling out a Conflict of Interest form.

  1. What if my question was not answered here?

Please reach out to firstchampionshipvolunteer@firstinspires.org with any additional questions on judging.


This is super-confusing to people who want to be judges, because if you go to the volunteer link in your dashboard and select “New Hampshire”/“FRC” then all the events are listed as occurring after April 12 and into May – nothing is listed in March.

This is the first I’ve heard of a March 5th date. The At-Home Challenges Manual Section 2.3.4 says

For all At Home Challenges, interviews occur between Monday, March 15thand Sunday, April 11th.

So is it March 5th, or March 15th?

Blog post was corrected. It now says the 15th.

I’m writing a question to:

When we use our school district account to try to setup a MS Teams Account, It will not let us use “For work and organizations,” as specified. It requires us to use the Office365 Education Plan. I’m concerned that this will not meet the requirements.

Pretty sure you don’t need a teams account.

Emphasis mine

My understanding is that FIRST is proposing this so that you can have your students test interview under similar conditions to what they will see during the real interview.

@wilhiten you won’t need a Teams account for joining the interview call.

For the recommended practice in advance of the interview, anyone on the team can create a free account to be able to set up and host practice meetings. This account for practice does not have to be associated with a school or any other entity.

If you check around your team, you might find that one or more mentors or students already have a Teams account that could be used for practice. These accounts became much more commonplace in response to coronavirus travel and meeting restrictions. Also, people who have a Microsoft 365 subscription for home use likely have a Teams account or can easily get one.

Yes. Practice is also good to verify that cameras and microphones are configured correctly, are playing well with Teams, and are set such that video and audio are of good quality. You want your students to know exactly how to share presentations, and to be able to mute/unmute and potentially pause incoming video. Twelve minutes is awfully short if there are technical issues. Practice is mostly recommended to minimize the chance of that kind of disruption.