FRC Interview Tips 2021 Season

As much as we like to focus on the robotics and engineering part of FIRST competitions, there is another equally important part that we need to cover: the interview. 

Going through interviews and meetings is something that you'll end up doing for the rest of your life, whether it be for colleges, scholarships, jobs, or even just a regular work meeting. While you will most likely become comfortable with them later down the road, chances are you're still feeling unsure about this process. Don't worry too much, though! We've got some tips to help you figure out where to start and settle those nerves. 

Before Competition

Prepare your Presentation

Start early to be sure to give your team ample time to prepare and practice for your interview. Planning ahead will allow your team to spend adequate time creating your presentation, adding pictures, and reviewing it. Does it look sharp, or is it too busy? Is there enough personality, or is it too generic? And of course make sure the whole team has a chance to look at it and give their opinions as well! 

Make the Presentation Engaging

A major aspect of having a good presentation is making sure it is both informative and entertaining. Keep in mind that the judges will have already reviewed your submission prior to your interview. Therefore, all information included in your presentation should be used to highlight the most important parts of your project or design, or it can present new information. 

For each slide, a good rule to follow is six by six: no more than six bullets, and no more than six words per bullet. The physical presentation serves as a guide for the audience, leaving the bulk of the information to be delivered aloud by the speaker. If there is too much on one slide, it will detract too much attention from the speaker.

Following that note, DON'T READ OFF THE SLIDE. Doing so will make you seem less confident and knowledgeable. Instead create some notes or flashcards to remind you what comes next. That way you can better interact with your audience, which means maintaining eye contact or looking at the camera.

Practice, practice, practice! 

As cliche as it sounds, practice truly is key when it comes to both presentations and interviews. It is so much less stressful to present something if you go over it enough times. Look over the slides and read everything aloud by yourself and to an audience as many times as you can. Keep a timer handy to make sure you don't exceed the time limit! For the Game Design Challenge, this is 7 minutes of time to present. For the Innovation Challenge, this is 5 minutes of time to present. 

But this tip doesn't only apply to the presentation. You can practice fielding questions, too! Part of this is just improv, so feel free to play any theater or reaction games you might know. The internet is also full of questions that the judges may ask you about your robot or your project. Feel free to assign certain topics to certain people and make sure everyone will have the chance to speak, but be aware that this plan might not be followed exactly during the interview. That's perfectly fine, though! You guys will all know the information required to answer any question by the time interview day comes around.

Day Of Interview

Be Yourself!

This is another cliche piece of advice that we're sure you have heard before. However, that doesn't stop it from being any less true. You want your interview to be memorable, something which won't happen if you're too rigid or your presentation sounds too forced. The judges ask questions to learn more about you and your process, not to listen to what you think they want to hear! If you make sure your presentation and answers reflect yourself and your team's personality, the judges will notice and appreciate your effort.

Final Review. Just Relax!

Go over introductions, review who's saying what, and double check for any spelling mistakes! If you can, have a coach or mentor give the presentation another review as well.

You might not feel stressed until the day of the competition. And that’s okay. Take a minute to breathe, drink some water, relax, jump around, do whatever you need to do! You have put a lot of time and effort into this, so just relax and do your thing. Remember that your worth and validity is not contingent on anything, including this presentation. At this point, all you need to do is join that video call, put on a smile, and do your best. You've got this! 


Authors:

Sammie Graff

Sammie Graff

Documentation Subteam Member