Post available to Premium Members only. Please upgrade your account in order to apply.
For MUN organizers, be it the head of the organizing team or the Secretary-General as the leader of the academic team, handling the process can be tricky and leave you with more questions than answers in the end. After a successful first check on formal requirements in terms of qualification, language skills and relevant experience in MUN, successful candidates are informed to have made it to the next stage of the selection process: The Interview
An interview for a chairing position is quite equal to a job interview - you need to know what position you want to fill and which requirements you deem important.
However - how does that work in practice?
Here are some things that you should have set up before conducting the first interview with a potential chair:
Consider your priorities
Before even inviting to the interview - consider that question: What are your priorities for the conference? Do you look for very strict chairs? Do you look for very experienced ones? How many new chairs do you want to introduce to the board? How important do you consider their study background?
Ensure that you know what you are looking for first, that way, you can come up with criteria you consider most important to fulfill for applicants.
Decide on your criteria
After you have cleared what you look for, now it is time to put that into practice. What are your criteria? Basically, what you are looking for is some sort of Checklist, that will help you during the interview to judge each applicant and most importantly, compare them after.
What could be elements of such a checklist?
Well, this depends most certainly on your priorities but what you certainly want to judge are things like:
How was the level of conversational English?
Was the applicant motivated?
- How did he/she react to questions? Spontaneous? After some thinking?
Were answers clearly stated? Were answers sufficiently explained?
- Was the applicant replying in a polite, calm way?
- Did he/she ask own questions? Or maybe followed up on questions?
- Was the applicant confident? Insecure? Arrogant?
Put together a catalog of questions
You want to know things of the applicant that are crucial for them being a successful chair at your conference. Maybe start of easy with them, referring back to things they stated in their application and then dig in deeper... This diagram shows the flow of of a possible chair interview.
Of course, this is only one course of action. You need to decide your priorities and your criteria - and then come up with your own catalog. However, make sure you conduct every interview in the same manner, that way, you are able to compare applicants afterwards. Especially when you interview many, you want to rely on your notes and judgement from the actual interview, not a faded memory. This way, you can conduct the interview in a professional manner, and when applicants come back to you after they might not have made the cut, you can refer to your documents and can tell them exactly why they did not.
So preparation is everything to conduct a successful chair interview - and always keep in mind - MUNers are individuals, no one is like the other so be flexible, firm but fun and ensure that the professionalism that you want to see during the conferences is reflected in your own actions as well.
Some more aspects to consider...
- Schedule the interview professionally: Offer spots to the interviewees to take, but make sure you conduct the interviews in the same time period, maybe during a weekend. You want to compare the interview but also want to avoid spending too much time. For flexible scheduling tools check out Use those Apps - Organize your Team successfully.
- Keep the length of the interview in check: 20 minutes is the top-length of a chair interview, make sure your applicant sticks to the questions asked and inform him/her about the time you dedicate to the interview. A good exercise to see how somebody deals with timing and pressure.
- Never take the interview alone: Make sure a second person is there, maybe just to listen in. But this way, you get a second opinion and after a short discussion of the applicant, you can together judge the eligibility.
And last but not least...
Inform your applicants about your choice in a timely manner. Do not wait too long or even, make promises during the interview.
Inform successful candidates to and ask them for confirming their position until e.g. a 48h deadline is running out. That way you avoid drop-outs later. Worst case, you may choose from your pool of applicants should your first runner up not be able to attend after all.
Only after all your successful applicants have confirmed their participation as a chair it is time to do one of the hardest things - write the rejection letters.
The applicants should be informed in a personal email about the rejection of their application to chair. Be polite and invite them nevertheless to participate. Maybe you got special positions to fill? Maybe you can offer them a fast-track application as a delegate for their committee/delegation of choice?
Keep your email short, polite and of course, wish them all the best. Maybe you have a partner conference you can recommend where applications open soon? Here is the time to inform possible chairs about it!
The process might seem long and complicated, however, the chairs will be the image of your conference and their ability to guide delegates is crucial for the success of the conference. Choose wisely and make sure that you find your perfect Secretariat for your next conference!
Have you been in the position to select chairs? Have you been part of an interview as a chair before? Share your experiences in the comment section and should you have questions, just add them as well!