Editor’s note – This article is current as of October 1, 2016.
In this second part of the series on the Road to Level 3 (haven’t read the first part by Adam Cetnerowski? Look here!), we’ll be talking about another mysterious part of the process: the Pre-Event Interview.
Before we start off, let’s give the overview of the process again:
- You decide Level 3 is something for you, so you develop your Level 3 skills (the 9 Qualities of Regional Judges are listed under The Level Three Advancement Process).
- Step by step, you work on completing the checklist. Keep in mind that we’re looking for the 9 listed Qualities in a Level 3 Judge and not just a completed checklist. Still, as Adam explained in the first article of the series, it’s an important part of the process. The checklist is completed in a few steps. First, you complete all the non-recommendation items; one of these is your self-review which needs to get approved by the Verification Committee. Then, with your approved self-review, you try to get the two recommendations from Level 3 Judges, and finally, the Team Lead Certification at a Grand Prix.
- Once your checklist is approved by the Verification Committee, you start the Pre-Event Interview, which is the main focus of this article.
- Finally, after the Pre-Event Interview, you’ll do your written test and interview at a Grand Prix (or other event), as scheduled by the Testing Manager.
So, what happens during the Pre-Event Interview, exactly? To get to that point, you first need to understand why we’ve introduced this part of the process! Brace yourself for a little history lesson.
In days long past, when animals could still talk, a panel would consist of three judges, with at least 11 combined levels between them; often an additional observer would be brought in. An interview would typically last for several hours: a three-to-four-hour session was no exception. The total time investment of having four or five people away from the event for four hours was enormous. Things needed to change, and it was decided to change the interview to a two-hour session with two panelists only (going from 20 man-hours to just six).
There was a reason why a panel used to take this long: often, the panelists did not know the candidate really well which meant that it took some time to get to know the person you’re evaluating for Level 3 properly and to decide whether to promote. The 9 Qualities weren’t as clearly defined back then, but what happened was pretty much that the panel needed to go over all the things they considered important in a Level 3 Judge to form a proper picture of the candidate.
With the interview being brought down to two hours only, this was clearly no longer an option. We still wanted to keep the possibility (and, as much as possible, the goal) of including out-of-region panelists for each candidate, to ensure objectivity, so there had to be another way to gather information before the interview about the Qualities the candidate had. And thus was born the idea of a Pre-Event Interview. The goal here is clear: gather as much information about the candidate’s skills (focused on the 9 Qualities of Regional Judges) so that the panel only needs to go over a few of them.
Antoine Bouaziz, Level 3 Extraordinaire from France, is leading this effort; working with him is a group of experienced Level 3 Judges who take on the role of interviewer. As a candidate, you’re assigned one evaluator out of this group, and the Pre-Event Interview happens mostly through online communication. E-mail is definitely a good medium here (and the one I’ve used most often), but there have been situations where a Skype call or IRC chat has given the candidate and interviewer some face-to-face time, or at least chatline-to-chatline time.
At the start of your Pre-Event Interview, you’ll be sent a list of standard questions. Every Level 3 candidate gets the same list, although that list is obviously tweaked over time. These questions focus on your motivation, experience, community involvement and mentoring skills, as well as your understanding of the judge program. The answers you provide form the starting point for your Pre-Event Interview.
Once those answers are in, it’s up to the interviewer to decide where to dig a little deeper: we’ll analyze what you wrote and figure out where to go next. You’ll be given more questions, and from the answers to those, we’ll dig further. And so on, and so forth…until the end of days! Well, not really the end of days, but nevertheless, you should expect to put a decent amount of time into this. The Pre-Event Interview is effectively the first part of your interview, so putting in honest, thoughtful answers is important, and doing so takes time – we’re definitely looking at ten hours (and often more!) of your time, in total. The Pre-Event Interview takes place over a few weeks; anywhere between 2 and 6 depending on the speed of communication. Note that you won’t need to take a day off from work or anything; just be prepared to regularly put some time into your Pre-Event Interview over the course of those weeks.
To provide a little more transparency about how the conversation typically evolves, let’s give a few examples. If, in one of your earlier answers, you’ve talked about one of your local judges as being a good level 3 candidate in your region, we might ask you to expand on why (if we want to look into how your assessment skills are, or perhaps your understanding of Level 3), or we might ask you to compare the two of you (maybe we need to find out more about your self-assessment?). If you’ve given us an interesting angle on a policy issue, we’ll get you to explain why you’ve taken that position, so that we can see how strong your understanding of policy philosophy is. If you’ve talked about a difficulty you’ve met in the past, we’ll see an opportunity to learn how you deal with stressful situations or with conflicts, and we’ll ask you how you handled the problem. In general, anything that catches our interest and that allows us to gather insights on how well you do with the 9 Qualities of Regional Judges is game. By the way, you’ll make our job a little easier (and your Pre-Event Interview a bit faster) by getting well-written recommendations and by writing good (self-)reviews!
That leads us to the end result of the Pre-Event Interview: our report. Whenever we’re tasked with a Pre-Event Interview, we’re expected to write an assessment report, which is sent to the Testing Manager (Daniel Kitachewsky) and, of course, your panel. Ideally, we’re able to provide enough information about six or more of the Qualities of Regional Judges, so that the panel can simply skip those. We’ll identify your strengths and potential problem areas so that the panel can use its limited time to focus on those potential problem areas.
The next article in the series will talk about the actual interview, so let’s stop here!