There is a LOT of good, honest, and very helpful information in this thread. Following along with that, I’d like to balance out a few things with some overall thoughts…
The interview is obviously a very important part of the process, but it is only a part of the process. CA judges will also spend time observing your whole team and they are likely to ask other teams about you if they believe you are in serious contention for the award. Some of this you can’t control, nor should you attempt to.
The fourth person to just observe and/or the ability to videotape is never likely to happen. Maybe this hasn’t happened everywhere, but at all of the regionals I went to, our team received written feedback from the judges at the end of the process. Having the feedback of the judges is infinitely more helpful than the feedback from a fellow team member. Besides, with the fourth person in the room there really isn’t a way to prevent them from speaking and even the most innocent of circumstances could lead to an infraction of the rules and unfortunate disqualification that no one would like.
Also, please remember what the CA is about. No disrespect meant here to anyone, but from my perspective if a team as a whole isn’t fully “into” the true meaning of FIRST and what the Chairman’s Award stands for, then they most likely aren’t worthy of receiving the award. No external motivation should be necessary at all, in fact it’s quite the opposite. FIRST fosters growth that leads to individuals who make choices based on strong personal convictions related to global ideals. Members of a Chairman’s Award winning team are aware that they are part of a culture-changing activity, that their individual lives are changed for the better, and that it is their responsibility to make a postivie difference in the lives of others (both inside and outside of their community).
No videotape or observer should be necessary to convey that to a team. Now, I could see your Chairman’s committee making frequent presentations to your whole team and even possibly sharing what the interview was like with the whole group. I have never been in that room and I was always inspired by what the students told me about the interview afterward. By the way, I’m also in the camp that believes in sending three students into the interview. I agree with Dave about knowing the entire, sustained team history, but I believe students can learn (and should know) the history of the team.
During my time with 103, there were a lot of informal discussions among the team members about the meaning of the CA, how it guides our activities and actions through gracious professionalism, and what it means to our community as a whole. At dinner during build season we would frequently share our CA submission with the whole team to get feedback, to inspire those who needed it, and to inform everyone. Altohugh only a handful of students were involved in the CA “process”, every team member was aware (on some level) that what they were doing individually played a part in carrying out FIRST’s mission.
I’m so glad teams are more willing than ever to share such intimate details on the interview process. This is GP at its finest. At each one of the 30 regionals this year there will be more than one CA deserving team in attendance. The award will be granted to one of those teams. Make sure that your team allows time to foster and cultivate those internal motivators so that , “win” or “lose”, you can celebrate with an equal sense of pride and accomplishment.
Good luck and remember what a special thing it is that we all have.