Lead Mentor Interview

So, I’ve been in FRC 5 years now. Our lead mentor has stepped down to focus on other student groups she’s working with. She will still be involved, but to a lesser extent and has let me know to apply for the position. I was a lead at another school for a year before moving, so I understand a lot of the paperwork on the FRC side at least.

This is a position that is recognized by the district, so I’m hoping to have better access to the workshop in the event another staff member is not present. It is a very STEM friendly district and they even provide a large chunk of our yearly budget.

I’m getting prepared though It does not seem to be a real formal interview. I expect that they’ll be asking what questions I have for the position.

What are some good questions to take care of?

Stuff I’ve thought of so far:

  • What level of access is the position granted
  • How will purchases be made and tracked
    • Currently, I think the previous lead had a dedicated school card then turned in receipts
  • School/district information for setting up sponsors
  • How to get approvals for things like new equipment
  • Who to go through for getting students out of class for events

I’ve been involved in a lead mentor transition like this. Here were just a few of my stumbling blocks…

What relationships is the lead mentor responsible for maintaining with existing sponsors? Is there a schedule of reporting requirements that must be met? Who are the sponsor POCs?

What school/district rules must we honor when determining student participation on the team For example: does the school expect us to only allow the participation of students who maintain a particular grade point average? Are we allowed to accept student membership from outside the school or district?

Are there any school/district rules that we need to follow when determining the participation of adult volunteers on the team? For example, is it enough to use FIRST’s background check tool to get them screened? Do any mentors need to be registered & fingerprinted with the school district’s HR department?

How much of our personal liability as adult participants is covered by the school district (which is typically self-insured)?

Are there any restrictions we have to honor when setting meeting times?

I also asked the outgoing head coach to write down every team alumni they could remember; this information seeded our now-excellent alumni database.


I would ask what kind of contingency plan you are allowed if you are sick or cannot show up to a meeting one night. IE- can students meet still? Can they use machines/tools under other adult supervision?

Will someone from the school help you in figuring out transportation/lodging/food for events?

Will you have a way to communicate with students, mentors, parents of students?

  • What forms of communication are allowed?

Are you responsible for the team’s social media presence? Does any of it need school oversight?

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Also ask how to arrange transportation for students (vans and buses for events). If you do off season events in the summer how is transportation handled?
Does the school have official permission slips for travel?
Clearance and background checks required for mentors? What level of clearance is required for different mentor levels if any?
Are clearances required for visitors and guest speakers?
As mentioned above what forms of communication are allowed by the school between students and mentors? Preferably one that goes through the school.
If there is an issue with a student, what is the school policy for handling it (who to contact and procedures)
If you want to hold off season events or training is there anything that need to be done to be allowed to use your school’s facility.
As you have said that the school provides your team support, what does the school expect?

Good on you for stepping up! I went through this with two other mentors last year as well… Some additional things that tripped us up:

  • How is disciple handled if needed? Are all incidents reported to the school and vice-versa (trouble in classes may impact FRC eligibility)
  • If a student is hurt at a meeting, do you have their medical forms, or access? Do you need first-aide training?
  • How will you transport the robot? Do you have, or have access to a truck?
  • Student transportation: Mentioned by previous posters, but find out of students can drive each other.

All of the above are very good questions. As far as liability look into joining the MSHSL as a robotics coach you can have some coverage, the school should pay the fee for this.
They have to have a extra curricular contract. Find it and look it over.
Do you know the pay scale? ( It is available online)
Do You get extra if you go to state or world’s?
Will the school cover additional team costs if you make it?
Talk to the shop teachers, develop a relationship
Do you know anyone on the school board? You should…
I have several extra curricular contracts for MN schools if you PM me.
Good luck and thanks for stepping up!

Related to this, you would want to ask if the school will interfere or intervene on which students can or cannot be accepted or rejected by the team. This is outside of reporting the students grades, if that is a qualifying factor for being allowed on the team.

Well thanks everyone.

I had a good interview two days ago, and we discussed a lot of good questions from here. Today I was offered the position.

One thing that came up during the interview was some changeovers in the business department and how some of the after-school business programs went away. I may have a good application for hands-on experience once I meet with the appropriate instructors :wink:




In subsequent meetings, it would be good to find out what expectations the school, the students and their parents have for the team and what resources they are willing to commit. Of course, you should ask the same questions of yourself.

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