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Likeability personified…in a high school 4-H’er

The high school senior closed the door of the interview room leaving the team of three evaluating 4-H state project awards.

“Charisma, what charisma!” said the interviewer to my right. The first word I’d written on his evaluation form was WOW! He was one of many 4-H’ers vying for state project awards.

What set this applicant apart from the 12 others my team interviewed?
• The intensity of his focus on the questions…the look you in the eye…I am listening to every word, not picking up just a few of the words
• The contemplation before answering questions, with hand gestures to signal he was thinking
• The cohesive focus of his answers

It was a 10-minute interview I wish we had recorded for others to see. Particularly those who jeopardized their chances of getting an award because they told us everything remotely related to a question.

Knowing when to observe a rest (as in music)
With many we interviewed, we couldn’t get to all the questions we wanted to ask. I resorted to finding slight pauses and inserting a new question with some applicants. It’s the art of focusing on the question, answering it succinctly and stopping. No rambling answer. Just stopping.

Early on in the interviews, it became apparent we’d have a really difficult time in the 10-minutes we were allowed, asking pertinent questions one needs to cover for 4-H evaluations. 4-H focuses on life skills. The common skills vital to every project are communication, community service and leadership. We needed to cover those aspects as well as the project area, whether it be beef or pets or clothing. Sometimes the student was applying for leadership, communication or community service, so those interviews didn’t demand as many questions.

Civility factors---intense listening, thinking before answering, focused and brief answers
The WOW applicant had many more attributes to be labeled charismatic, but the civility with which he dealt with questions was a start anyone can practice. And that includes many beyond their high school years. And in simple every-day conversation.


I wanted to hear more about this "WOW" applicant. What were some of his brief answers?? Were you impressed by his appearance? good smile? pressed clothes? good grades? I know he had good communication skills, but were there other factors that made him so likeable??

The few notes I wrote on this candidate and didn't turn in with his evaluation:
He teaches sportsmanship as he coaches young soccer players.
He believes a leader learns as well as teaches and leads.
He talked about his grandfather as a role model.
He seemed very grounded, mature and suited to a global economy. He talked about his love of romance languages. He plans to major in French when he goes to college. He completed the Iowa State University Extension Master Gardener training and admitted he has a ways to go to complete the 40 volunteer hours to be a certified Master Gardener.

Every candidate we interviewed had paid attention to appearance. Business casual was expected of all candidates and all interviewers.