“You can hire talent and give it experience. You can’t do the opposite.” -me
In my previous entries in this series, I have tried to build the argument that a) traditional sit-down interpreter interviews are a waste of time and select for the wrong qualities, and b) interpretive workshop interviews, though much better, are a waste of the candidates’ time and still select for the wrong qualities.
The interpretive skills showcase, as described below, allows you to see a high number of candidates doing exactly what you need to see them do: interpret a given resource. It maximizes not only your time but theirs too. Paired with a rigorous reference check (the subject of a future article,) it should be your shortest route to a large selection of talented, high-quality interpreters with which to go about hiring a kickass team.
I believe this process, as outlined below, is fair, transparent, and effective. It should allow you to see four candidates per hour. It showcases interpretive skills over interview skills; it reduces your chances of being charmed by a good schmooze. It emphasizes talent over experience, and I think that’s vital. I believe that you can hire talent and give it experience; you can’t do the opposite.
Thank you very much for your interest in our position. We are pleased to invite you to an interpretive skills showcase and knowledge test as part of Competition XXX with Agency XXX.
The skills showcase will proceed as follows; please take careful note of the details.
- Please prepare and present a seven-minute segment of an interpretive program, based on one of the three assignments below. You may present for under seven minutes but not over; we will cut you off at the seven-minute mark.
- The presentation must be entirely your own work; it may be adapted from something you have presented before, or it may be entirely new. You must certify in writing that the work is your own.
- The assignments are as follows; please choose one. No substitutions, please.
- Theme: A half-hour at a tide pool can change your life, or at least the way you look at it. Audience: A family of five in a tide-pool or touch-pool setting.
- Theme: There are aliens invading our parks, and your back yard. Audience: A large mixed family audience in an amphitheatre setting.
- Theme: If this lighthouse could talk, you’d hear stories that could break your heart. Audience: 12 active seniors on a guided tour.
- You will be evaluated by a team of three people. You may use us as your audience / participants.
- We will record the mini-program on video. We will not publish or share the video beyond the evaluation board. All recordings will be erased at the end of the competitive process.
- You must give the presentation/interaction, not talk about what you would do. This is like an audition. Show us your best skills.
- Bring any props, visual aids or other equipment you require. Keep it simple; you will have one minute to set up your mini-program.
- We will evaluate you on the following criteria:
- Clarity of message: the theme must be clear and everything you do should support it: 20 points
- Audibility, eye contact, clarity of speech, and vocabulary as appropriate to target audience: 10 points
- Impact: the presentation/interaction should be inspiring, provocative, compelling, original and memorable: 40 points
- Appropriateness of your approach to your target audience and subject matter: 20 points
- Suitability and relevance of props, visual and audio aids: 10 points
- You’ll need a score of 65 to proceed to the rest of the competition. If you do not score 65 or over, we discard your knowledge test results and eliminate you from the competition. You’ll be welcome to re-apply in the future.
- Your audition time is from 10:00 to 10:15 on Tuesday, April 11th at XX locale. If you are late, we will use what remains of your alotted time. No-shows will not be rescheduled.
- After your audition, we will ask you to proceed to the proctored subject matter test. You will not need field guides or equipment of any kind, nor will you be allowed to bring notes, books or electronic devices to the table. You will have 30 minutes for the test, and we anticipate that this will be enough time to complete it without rushing. We will test you on the natural/cultural history of our park/historic site.
- The knowledge test is not eliminatory; if you score poorly in this segment of the competition, you may compensate with high points in other segments.
- After this stage of the competition, we will proceed to a reference check. Please notify your references immediately that we may contact them. If you have not provided three references as described on our competition poster, please do so immediately via email.
- A brief interview by telephone will be the last stage in the competitive process.
- Please don’t hesitate to contact us with questions. Any extra information about the competition that we provide you through inquiry will also be provided to other candidates via email.
- We are sincerely interested in what you have to offer, and we really look forward to meeting you.
I would love to hear your comments and suggestions on the method suggested above.
I really think you need to sign up for my email bulletin so you don’t miss a thing.