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The Interview: Guidelines for Judging Team Leaders


When choosing officers for leading a dance team, exactly what characteristics should a judge be looking for? Several of the ladies may exhibit above average dance and performance skills along with good grades and behavior. It is the interview that separates the top scoring candidates.

As an adjudicator, you have the awesome task of deciding who will represent the team both at school and in the community. Even though the young lady's performance on the floor is important, even greater is her performance off the floor. The interview provides each student with "life skills." It will help the candidate to gain more knowledge about her inner strengths and weaknesses, as well as gaining practice for future job interview skills. In recently attending a pageant in South Carolina, I participated in a judges certification seminar hosted by Barbara Kelley. I quickly began to assess the parallels between the interview category in pageants, and in officer try outs for dance teams.

Barbara Kelley, internationally recognized pageant expert points out, "regardless of official scores on ballots, the interview is the most important category to base your decision about the title holder. As a judge you may only have five to ten minutes to become acquainted with the candidate. How quickly can she develop a rapport with a panel of judges? Your job is to find the real person. "

Being asked a variety of questions the young lady will have to switch gears often. This is very similar to real life situations that arise among a dance team. Of course obvious questions to be asked will come from the dancer's fact sheet. This should be an easy response for her since it is just memorized recall. Therefore, as a judge it is your job to ask questions that involve critical thinking skills. Barbara suggests, "A judge should involve 'what if' questions and questions of diplomacy. " An example of this type of questioning might include asking a candidate, "What if you are chosen for the position of captain and officer camp is scheduled on the same date as your annual church retreat? " The student may feel she is in a no win situation having to choose church over school activities. Several scenarios include the following: First of all, the captain might ask other officers if they have scheduling conflicts, and if so, the dance camp could be rescheduled. Next, the young lady might also fully realize her position of leadership and how she has the ability to be a positive role model no matter which camp she attends. The candidate will have to give her opinion about the situation and as a judge since you have asked for her opinion, you must respect the candidate's perspective. The purpose of asking this kind of question is to force the young lady to make a decision "on the spot," and then see how well she supports the explanation with sound reasoning and conviction. Another type of questioning is that of diplomacy. One suggestion is to ask for the candidate to share her feelings regarding what the director could improve upon in the up coming year. Of course, this is no easy task when the director is in the same room listening to the interviews. A socially immature student may begin to blame the director for not having the foresight to correct problems involving low morale caused by gossip among team members. This indicates that the student is quick to talk about problems without providing a solution. Another student is afraid to criticize the director because she feels it might effect her score, so she just shares how fortunate the team is to have such a wonderful, talented coach. And yet a candidate with diplomacy may answer by saying that the director does not always recognize the beginnings of gossip among team members, but this is probably because she is so busy choreographing and preparing for the next performance. This student has found an answer without placing blame. When parents, teachers, and administrators ask questions regarding the team, as a director you want to have those questions answered honestly, but also tactfully.

How should a candidate successfully respond to a question in which she does not know the answer? She should reply, "I am not informed enough about the issue to give a good answer. " Another response might be, "That is a very interesting question, however I just need more information about the topic before feeling comfortable with providing an answer. " If the student says "I don't know" repeat the question worded in a different way. Again, just an "I don't know" response is not the best possible answer.

Check to evaluate the candidate's response to all of the questions. Barbara's remarks, "Does the student listen to the entire question being asked? Is the answer only based on the first couple of words in the sentence?" If so, this may indicate that the student needs more verbal interaction skills and she might have difficulty communicating with team members.

Most importantly, after giving the student a numerical score, back this up with as many details as possible. In the interview category it seems to be more difficult to provide factual words verses emotional or subjective descriptions. What you may feel intuitively has to be documented as factually as possible. Remember that even if scores are not handed back to the candidates, a parent may request a conference in which the evaluation sheets will be read. The director is relying on your expertise in providing supportive reasons of why this candidate was not chosen. Writing that a dancer is "cute" or "pretty" does not explain why she received an average of 5 out of 10 points from the panel of judges. Instead a judge might write that the young lady was attractive, but she exhibited poor posture by slumping when she sat. Every student may have a small case of "nerves," but record that the student did not articulate well and used poor grammar while speaking. When noting appearance, state that the student certainly demonstrated animation and expression in the face and body language, but the amount of hand gestures used made it hard to concentrate on what the candidate was saying. Respond to students without vitality or enthusiasm by suggesting that this may be an indication for lack of stamina. If the candidate looks unduly tired or lethargic during the contest will she be able to juggle the duties of a leader and other obligations both in and out of school? Again, if the student receives less than a perfect score, be sure to record the reason why. Write on the evaluation that even though the candidate had an excellent posture, she seemed to lack confidence because she spoke very quietly and often looked down at the floor, lacking direct eye contact. By asking the right questions, the "real person" with charisma and pizzazz will quickly become apparent. Document details so that the director has facts to support the reasons for a candidate not chosen.


Article by Gina Sawyer of Tyler Apache Belles Gold Prep Classes


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