This article was written in collaboration with members of secretariate who have interviewed over 1000 chairs between them.
Many say that it is the chair who makes the Model UN conference. A bad chair leaves a sour taste in everyone's mouth and makes us feel like we wasted our weekend. A good chair can leave us inspired, energized and with a drive to be better at future Model UNs and life as a whole. For this reason, every secretariat wants to have the best chairs at their conference.What makes a best chair? Sometimes it’s experience, sometimes it’s gravitas and sometimes it is that perfect blend between a teacher's, a captain and a judge. However, some first time chairs are not less impressive due to common sense, clear judgement, intuition and a drive to do right by the delegates and themselves.
They say finding a good chair is like finding the love of your life, it’s hard to describe but you know it when you see it.
Matthew Kielstra, USG Chairing 2015
When you receive an email inviting you to an interview you know that your application was successful, so far. An interview for a Model United Nations chairing position is in many ways like any other job interview. However, in some ways a Model UN interview is different in that it requires you to show knowledge about the rules of Model UN and intricacies of the game, as well as good judgement, a cool head and interpersonal abilities. The following guide will give you many options of questions that are commonly asked and some tips for how to come better prepared and how to show that you are qualified, both academically and as a responsible team player who can show empathy and good judgement. It should be noted that newer chairs are not expected to know everything in the academics department but enthusiasm, openness and willingness to learn are often enough to show the secretariat that they want your Model UN career to start at their conference.
The following guide will teach you how to answer chairing interview questions, as well as provide many of the most common chairing interview questions and some tips for how to come better prepared. This guide to chairing interviews will help you show that you are well qualified, both academically and as a responsible team player who can show empathy and good judgement. It should be noted that newer chairs are not expected to know everything in the academics department but enthusiasm, openness and willingness to learn are often enough to show the secretariat that they want your Model UN career to start at their conference.
Knowledge of current events
Basic understanding of the United Nations
Understanding of Model United Nations
Knowledge of the Rules of Procedure
This is the place to show that you are interested in the committee you will be chairing and care about the committee / topic.
“I find the actions of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations very interesting, specifically their work on international plant protection and work to reduce malnutrition.”
This is the place to show you did research and bring specific examples showing an understanding, not only of your choice but also that you can be similarly serious about any topic or committee.
“I would want to discuss the creation of a World Food Summit in 2020. The FAO last organized such a summit in 1996, where 112 heads of state attended and they signed the Rome Declaration. As the summit was an important step in critiquing the industrial agriculture business, and focusing on protecting the ‘right to good’ of the poor, I believe that the reality has changes in the twenty plus years since the summit and it is time discuss the current problems in the food industry and create a new declaration.”
This question exists to show how often you keep up with global events and also test your general knowledge. It is important to be honest, as the interviewer can ask follow up questions.
Example: “I personally get my news from CNN but sometimes use the BBC and France 24 English edition, usually through apps on my phone. Sometimes, when I have more time I read in depth articles from The Economist.”
Room Reading & Award Criteria
Method of taking notes / tracking debate Criteria for choosing awards
Your answer needs to show an understanding of Model UN and also the ability to give ballance judgement.
Example: “I would give awards to the delegate who most influences policy. This would be the one who brought original ideas and lobbied to get them through. Definitely not someone who was inactive during unmods.
Questions like these exist specifically to test judgement. Why you made the decision that you did is just as important as what your verdict would be.
Example: “I would probably have to credit the speaker. I don’t know that the writer thought of anything and if they did they did not own it. Of course I would need more information but based on what you are saying the one who brought the ideas, and seemingly sold them, was the spearer.”
A very common judgement question. Best to avoid saying it goes to the best speeches or the most aggressive lobbyist.
Example: “A best delegate, for me, is someone who manages to get the interest of their country represented while also helping fix the global problem everyone is discussing.”
How you deal with uncomfortable situations
Make sure to focus on the problems with plagiarism and the lack of sportsmanship by the aggressor. Make sure to address both.
This question is a double question asking what you feel about delegates making up facts and what you would do. Make sure to address both.
Your answer needs to show how you would deal with the situation. A good answer will also include what you would do if this continues.
How Available are when it comes to time free to work on MUN related tasks
Always be honest and match expectations. If the chairing position is important enough you should be able to make the time. However, say that you will and they find that you we dishonest about your schedule is a great way to get kicked off the chairing team.
Let the true you shine 🙂
Show strengths related to chairing of Model UN. You are being compared to other candidates and it is your strengths which will help you pass the interview.
Everyone has weaknesses. They should not be deal breaker weaknesses but showing humanity and self awareness is important.
Here there is no wrong answer. If you answer leader be humble. If you answer follower, make sure to show that you still have the skills to be a good chair.
No wrong answer as long as it shows you are a competent, thinking person.
Out Of The Box Thinking / Other
Some out of the box type of qustions that might come up
Many of the above questions are less exciting to prepare for than “Superman vs. Iron man,” but they are generally what you need to be ready for.
Most aspiring chair do not prepare for specific questions so this list alone can give you a leg up. Study the list carefully and have general ideas of the answers ready. Make sure they are not robotically rehearsed so that you can speak naturally, comfortably and confidently. However, to really nail the interview, you will need to follow the strategies below to go beyond just answering the questions above to really make an impression and ace your interview.
Truth of the matter is that even after these 10 steps interviewing is still tough. Sometimes it is difficult to show who we are in a face to face chat so all the more reason to be nervous about a 10 minute skype interview.
Remember that in the end we are all here to have fun and help each other move forward within the complex Model UN family that we are part of. Also, these same interview techniques will help with further interviews in life. Model UN is a safe place to practice all of the things stated above and you will find the process getting easier with each interview. For those reading this, whether it is your first interview or you are a veteran who just wants to see it all in one place, stay calm, focus on the prize and make your interview a great one.