Jump to content

New Scoutmaster Interview Questions

Recommended Posts

I am part of the troop committee, and we are in the process of selecting a new Scoutmaster.

There are no hard feelings with the out going Scoutmaster, he is moving, and I'm sure will be involved in scouting in his new environment.

There are 4 applicants for this position, all who have been Assistant Scoutmasters in our Troop. Some are Wood Badge trained, some are members of the O/A, some were scouts themselves, some were in the military, some have better personalities than others (as I am sure can be said for all of us!). I have been on campouts with each of them.

The troop committee is holding interviews, and I am looking for specific questions to ask. I have some ideas, but want to know if there are any questions that you all think are imperative during this type of interview process.



Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 33
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Yah, hmmm... What an unusual situation.


First question: are there any ASMs who are not applying for the position? Maybe you should look at them!


My best advice is for the committee to interview the boys in the PLC and ask them about each candidate's strengths and weaknesses, and who they would recommend. That's almost always the best indicator. Scouts, especially the leadership boys, are the true measure of how an adult interacts with and works with kids. They see the adults when other adults aren't watching. Anyone the kids say "no" to or are uncomfortable with should be ruled out, absolutely. Narrow your search to their top two.


I'd ask each of the candidates who they would choose for the position from the other three candidates, and why. I'd also ask any ASMs who aren't candidates the same question. Da SM must have the respect of and be able to work with the other ASMs. The fellow (or lady) who is most frequently identified by their peers as being the best to work with is your top candidate. If the boys agree, your job is almost done.


Da final questions go to the spouse and son (if any). Are they OK with it? Will they be supportive? Do they understand the commitment? No SM can be his or her best without the enthusiastic support of their family. Family tensions over not wanting dad as SM or being a "scouting widow/widower" make doing' a good job really tough, eh?


No other interview questions mean very much, though here's a few just so yeh can fill the time:


1) What's the list of training you intend to pursue in the next year to help you with the job? What would you recommend for each of the other ASMs?


2) Which boys do you find it easiest to work with? Which boys hardest, and which other ASMs would you turn to for help with those boys?


3) Other than the SPL/PLs, who is the first boy you'll reach out to as SM to help/encourage, and why?


4) What are your weaknesses and needs, and what do yeh need us to do to support those so you can do what you're best at? How do you help scouts see the same things and work to support each other?


5) What are the best things about this troop that you want to build on?


Yada yada. Spend more than half your time talking about kids, and avoid any who takes the conversation away from kids and toward procedures and hierarchies and such.


By and large, my experience has been that committees are far too easily swayed by surface impressions - dress and comportment and such. Some of da best SMs don't interview all that well, because rather than imposing their vision they like to collaborate and seek input. So when it comes down to it, the only things that yeh should base your decision on are the kids' view, their fellow ASMs views, and da support of their family. All the rest is just information for the committee so that the committee can be proactive in supporting them. Yeh shouldn't use it for selection.



Link to post
Share on other sites

In a situation like this I think interviews are just a formality; a game played to make everyone think they were given full consideration.


If these folks are all long-time ASMs, you know what you need to know about them. Why ask about their commitment to training they will commit to when you know one guy has already taken all the courses he can and staffed Wood Badge twice, while another reluctantly took OLS a 18 months after joining? You know the answers based on their performance.


Now if you're in Kudu's troop, Wood Badge may be seen as a negative. But that's a philosophical question for the committee to work out. And that's my point.


My advice would be for the committee to spend most of their time discussing their vision for the troop and the traits a good SM will need to get you there. When you can answer that the choice for the job will be obvious. The only question I would ask would be "What is your vision for the troop" and see how that aligns with the committee's.


Actually, depending on the committee structure, I'd appoint a nominating committee of 3 or 4 folks and task them with gathering input from all the constituent group -- Scouts, committee members, ASMs, parents, your COR and IH and maybe others in the CO. I'd even involve folks in the pack, if you have a brother pack which regularly feeds the troop.

Link to post
Share on other sites

As a sm in my first year in the position, I think there is a lot more to the job than appears on the surface.


So, my questions would be geared towards time, organization, structure and logistics.


Do the prospective sm's have the ability to be organized. Do they have a support system, i.e. wife, secretary, assistant, etc. to help him facilitate all that is required of the sm.


can he lead the asm's, and get them to work for him.


Can he delegate responsibility.


can he make 70% of the troop activities.


does he have an organizational plan for the asm's and the troop as a whole.


does he have a general plan on where he wants to take the troop, and if so, how is he going to do it.


The sm job, as everyone knows, is a huge undertaking. Personally, i could not do it without the assistance of wife and secretary and all of the asm's who step up to take over different duties and oversight.


Finally, does he have the support of the troop parents.

Link to post
Share on other sites

My philosophy is in line with Beavah on this one.

Who can work best with the boys, and who has the time to sacrifice?


And I would oppose TwoCub's: "What is your vision for the troop" and "appoint a nominating committee of 3 or 4 folks and task them with gathering input from all the constituent group".


Is it just me, or does that sound like Tom Blanchard's version of a WoodBadge ticket item?

I would almost assume that the person who most impressed the committee answering that question, would be the candidate who would LEAST impress the boys...

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you all so much for the great questions, and the insight that is gained from reading your questions, as well as the reasoning behind them.

As for the rest of the details from my end, I will leave them unanswered, as this is the internet, and I have not vetted each of you! ;-) (That is meant as a joke about internet anonymity)


Thanks so much!!


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...