Interview room & judging panel (rookie questions)

I have some rookie questions about the regional judging/interview process.

  1. I see from the rules that a team has five (5) minutes for a presentation followed by five (5) minutes for a question period. I also know that ONLY three people form the team can attend, and that the session cannot be videotaped.

  2. However, I have some questions:

    a) How many judges review each team; is it a panel of 3, 10, or larger?
    b) Does a team get a few minutes to “set-up” their presentation?
    c) Are the interview time slots then every 30 minutes or so?
    d) What does an interview room typically look like? Is it near the pits?
    e) I assume the the judges will already have pre-printed copies of the yearbook page and chairman’s submission; correct?
    f) Do teams typically have any sort of “leave-behind” for the judges?

  3. In past years, teams have presented Powerpoint slide shows, videos, etc. So, I assume that each team needs to bring their own laptop PC, projector, etc?

Ok, while I am a mentor on a rookie team, I know how the whole Chairmans’ thing works.
a) Last year there were either 3 or 4 judges while you were presenting
b) I don’t know about a few minutes, but they will give you a minute or so to get situated and take a couple of deep breaths.
c) You only get 10 minutes in the room and to the best of my knowledge, they just go one after another.
d) Last year, our presentation room was the front part of a sports locker room. It obviously depends on which regional you’re going to do your presentation at and whatnot, but that’s probably something close to what you’ll be working with as most competitions are held in gyms.
e) The judges will have looked at your presentation already and they will more than likely have a copy of each, however we found it nice last year to make a neat, pretty looking version of each and to bring a copy for each judge. Makes it feel like Christmas when you walk in with presents for them, lol.
f) Last year we did bring “leave behinds” for the judges in the form of buttons. You can also leave behind the copies of your presentation if you wish, however I wouldn’t suggest you leave too much for them because then they won’t look at it all. Try to consolidate written leave behinds into a bulleted page or two. It’s a long day and the easier you make their life, the better!

  1. I’m not sure if you can do a powerpoint, however I imagine it would be acceptable. Be sure to have a backup plan in case the room doesn’t allow for such things, but yes, you will need to bring all of your own supplies.

Please feel free to PM me with any other questions you may have regarding this issue

I believe we had two judges last year; the sessions do follow one right after another; you Do need to bring all your own equipment; equipment dies, computers freeze up, etc. so prepare your three people to do a verbal backup, just in case. We presented at the UTC New England Regional which is a concert venue, so the interviews were held backstage in what I suppose is a “green room” for entertainers.

The judges will be watching your team throughout the competition, and visiting you in the pits to ask questions. It’s therefore important that ALL team members wearing your t-shirts be familiar with the game, the rules, your robot and your team and its history/accomplishments this year.

Section of the manual states that you should bring a hard copy of the submission to the event. I like the idea of providing each judge with a copy!

You are to be applauded for submitting a CA entry in your rookie year. It is a good practice to establish as it forces you to create an annual report of what your team is all about!

It’s my first year working on Chairman’s and i would like to ask a few things.By presentation you mean the essay? Must we present the exact same topics of the essay but in a more creative way?
Thanks in advance.

Since manner in which your Chairman’s Award entry was submitted this year was plain text and the judges will have read this prior to your actual presentation, it would certainly be an excellent idea for your presentation to the judges, though not a necessity, to produce a more visually appealing handout of your entry. You may or may not want to transfer your submission from essay format to more brief, strong statements and bulleted information, as well as lots of pictures, and give the judges this along with any other documents your team produces, such as newsletters, business plans, yearbooks (not referring to the TIMS System - our team produces a largely expanded version of the our Chairman’s Award/HoF entry in a large binder), brochures, posters, etc. All such things can have a great impact on the judges impressions of your team and considering majority of the population learns and comprehends most information more easily on a visual level, will allow for a differentiated and effective manner of presenting your information to the judges besides just straight text and verbal explanations.

Thanks, it helped us a lot. :slight_smile:

Our team is also a first time Chairman’s Team and we were wondering about the setup of the room. Will they provide tables,chairs and other materials for us or do we have to bring our own? This is crucial for our presentation and your help will be greatly appreciated.

Yes, in that context I was referring to the essay as well as the executive summary (basically a “to the point” version of your submission). When you made your submission, obviously you tried to highlight the aspects of your team that you felt were most impressive so these will be things on which you will probably want to expand upon. Also, if you had other important things that, due to space issues, you were unable to put into your submission, when you talk to the judges, such things can be presented. On my old team, our Chairman’s Submission was basically like a teaser for the judges. You give them just a snipit (sp?) of your best and make them ask you for the rest. Your talking to the judges is your chance to tell them your story and why you’re fantastic, without a 10,000 character limit. My best advice on what to do in your presentation? Follow your gut. If you think it’s really important, or that the judges really like a particular aspect, tell them everything you can about that!

For our Chairman’s Award presentation, we did a Power Point presentation, and it was no problem, just make sure that the computer doesn’t fall asleep during the presentation, or pray that the computer doesn’t crash before the interview. :rolleyes: Power Point is definitely a possibility.

Last year at the VCU regional there were two chairs for the judges and they had a table in which they keep all of their information. The table last year was long enough that we were able to set the laptop with the power point presentation down. If they don’t have a spot for you to set the equipment down then someone would just have to hold it this is why practicing the presentation is key. That was all they had in the room. Also I couldn’t resist giving them a Dave button.

thanks a lot richardp. :smiley: Now we can plan accordingly.

We began our presentation with a two minute DVD showing some of the highlights of our team, especially stuff that is shown better than talked about (like FLL mentoring with the cute kids, our trailer, etc). We then had each person talk for about a minute about a different aspect of our team. The judges are usually pretty flexible if you go a little over on your presentation.

I’ve been on our interview team the past three years. In 2002, we misread the rules. We thought the interview was all question and answer format. As a result, we made up our presentation in the 10 minutes we waited to go into the interview. In 2003, we knew about the presentation format and had prepared a VHS tape. However, it did not work on the TV we brought. Again, we had to improvise. We had already planned most of our talk so we just expanded it. For 2004, we tested out our equipment in advance. Our equipment worked flawlessly.

We have also made stuff to hand out to the judges. In 2003 we made binders containing everything about our team. In 2004 we made presentation folders for each of the judges containing nice copies of our submission, a one page update on what had happened since the submission, a copy of our newsletter, and a copy of our woodie flowers nomination essay.

Good luck on your submissions! I hope that you are able to learn from our experiences so you do not make the same mistakes we did.

Hey everyone, I just have 1 more question. Do you get any time to set up your presentation, because the time we have is limited and we need to use all the time available.

Yes, but any setup will be included in your five minutes to present.

I know the rules state 3 students (and or alumni/mentors) for the presentations.

  1. Has anyone ever experienced a situation where you take in an advisor just to “view” the presentation? or to help the students set up their presentation? Or, is it strictly limited to just the three presenters per team? Looking for input, as I stated above, I know what the rules state. I am VERY new to the PR/Business side of FIRST. Thanks!

  2. Do any of you send in less than the three students? Or do you generally always send in the three students? Are they usually three students? Or do you send in mentors, and the mentors present specific portions?

  3. Do all three students talk? Or, do you send in one maybe two students to present, then have the sedond and third student to assist in the Q&A session after one student gives the presentation portion?

Thanks for any input!

From my experience it’s best to send in three students (no mentors). All of them should talk and have input; for instance, each could take a turn at answering questions (this way, all three seem to be experts).

I actually disagree a little bit with Erin. I think that 1 mentor and 2 students is the way to go, especially on a team that has been around for more than 4 years. Judges get a chance to ask questions (or at least they have in years past) and if the students don’t know the answer to something that happened before their time, the mentor can jump in at that point, but be a silent observer otherwise. Just my opinion, but I think that having a mentor there in case there is a need is a good idea.

Beth is right. A big part of the Chairman’s Award evaluation is focused on sustained efforts to promote the ideals and values of FIRST. The more a team can demonstrate a long-term continuity of efforts, the better off they will be. Most students obviously max out at four years on a team (except for the occasional student that joins in 8th grade or comes back as a mentor). Having a mentor as one of the three presenters, ready to discuss the deep history of the team, is a very good idea.


You are limited to three team members. Your choice on students or mentors.
I have suggested that FIRST allow a non-participating Mentor in the room to listen and then be able to give feedback to the students after the interview was over, to make it a solid learning experience. Maybe that will happen sometime.

We (Team 234) have always had three students present. We select three who are from various sub-teams so that they can answer a range of questions between them.

I would recommend all three students contribute to the interview.

Our team experience has been that all judges are different and take slightly different approaches. Some have wanted to have general discussions, some have been ready for a presentation from the students, some a mix.

You only have 10 minutes total, so be prepared for several options. Have enough material prepared so that you could talk the entire time, but make a flexible plan so that you can do a short presentation and then be ready for Q & A.

I also think Dave L makes a good point on having one Mentor as part of the team. You need to look at the options and make the best mix choice for your team.

Good Luck - :slight_smile:

I would have liked to have a video recording of the interview last year to show our team and to use for coaching purposes this year. I also asked if we could record our interview (no) and have a non-participating mentor in the room (no).

I think one of the difficult parts about getting a team to support the efforts of those members working on the CA submission is that it is intangible. There are no strict rules to follow; they see our team’s animation submission, they see our robot in action, but they can only see our online submission portion of the CA. If they could see the presentation and interview it would make it far more interesting for all members. It’s frustrating as a mentor on that committee that I cannot see how we performed (can you picture it if our engineers and mentors helped with the robot but never got to see the students driving it in competition???) It makes it difficult to know how to improve for next year, or for when giving the presentation for potential sponsors, our school boards, or the media.