Don’t skip the interview

Interviews are an important part of leadership experiences.

Fall is selection season in Michigan 4-H Youth Development for many leadership opportunities. From local 4-H ambassadors or teen advisory boards to the Michigan 4-H State Youth Leadership Council, many applications from enthusiastic 4-H members are being reviewed. While conducting interviews with a large group of applicants can seem daunting, resist the temptation to skip that step in the selection process. Written applications provide one level of insight to a candidate’s skills and abilities and give those youth with exceptional grammar skills a leg-up. An interview provides another method of learning about a candidate.

More importantly, an interview for a local leadership experience might be the youth’s first-ever interview, a skill they will certainly use later in life when applying for jobs. Use the interview as a step in an application process as well as an opportunity to build youth’s confidence for interviews in their future.

Michigan State University Extension 4-H Youth Development provides several resources on developing interview skills with youth on their Careers and Entrepreneurship website. Ask general questions about the individual as well as content-related questions so youth have an opportunity to practice talking about and promoting themselves in a general way. A sample list of interview questions is available as a reference. Examples of questions include:

  • Why did you apply for this position/role?
  • Tell us about a time you worked as a team. What role did you play as a part of that team?
  • What are your greatest strengths? What are your greatest weaknesses?
  • What three adjectives best describe you?

General questions that allow youth to reflect on their strengths and weaknesses provide them with a greater sense of self-awareness, and better prepares them to answer similar questions in future job interviews where the interviewers may be less patient and familiar. Incorporating interviews into youth applications and leadership experiences provides them with an opportunity to build confidence, communication and critical thinking skills. It also provides youth with an opportunity to reflect on their strengths and weaknesses in an effort “to make the best better.”

 To learn about the positive impact of Michigan 4-H youth leadership, citizenship and service and global and cultural education programs, read our 2016 Impact Report: Developing Civically Engaged Leaders.” Additional impact reports, highlighting even more ways Michigan State University Extension and Michigan 4-H have positively impacted individuals and communities in 2016, can be downloaded from the MSU Extension website.

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