Volunteers Interviewing Volunteers
Sports events would struggle to take place if it wasn’t for volunteers. And large scale events also sometimes need volunteers to actually help interview, place and support other volunteers, when a large number are needed. The role for this type of volunteer is commonly referred to as a Selection Event Volunteer (SEV).
A good example of this role in action is by one of our Join In Local Leaders, Anna Barrett. She talks below about the role she played in the interview process for anyone who wanted to be a “Runner” at the World Athletics Championships in London this summer.
Being a SEV
So, what is a SEV? Simply put – it is a “Selection Event Volunteer”. But what do they do and how do you become one? Anyone who has volunteered at a major event knows that part of the application process is the “interview” …but what about the people who ask the questions?
What made you decide to become a Selection Event Volunteer?
I have done a fair bit of interviewing at work, either for my own team or for Graduate assessment centres, and I was a SEV for London2012. I thoroughly enjoyed the role and meeting all the potential volunteers, finding out their stories and why they wanted to volunteer. I still remember some of the facts & figures … 250,000 people applied for 75,000 roles and the intention was to interview 125,000 +. A small army would be required over a period of a year or so to do all those interviews. It was an amazing year & I felt even better when all those fantastic Games Makers got their deserved praise and accolades.
Since then, I have done the for 2015 Rugby World Cup (although it was called a VIP – Volunteer Interview Program) and now I am continuing as a SEV for the World Athletic Championships this summer in London. This event is slightly smaller than the Olympic and Paralympic Games (only 15,000 applications, 10,000 interviewees for 4,000 Volunteer “Runner” roles) but nevertheless, the SEV role is just as important to the event and to the organisers.
Why? Firstly, it helps to make sure the right people are recruited and secondly, it helps engage with the potential volunteer workforce and helps them to get excited about coming to work at the event. A two way street – just like any employer/ employee relationship should be.
How did you find out about the role?
I found out about this SEV role through Join In and the World Athletic Championship website. I saw that the Volunteer Runners program had an interview stage, so I asked around. I then saw that Team London had advertised – so it pays to keep your sources open.
How were you selected?
All potential SEV’s had to complete an application form, asking about our experience with interviewing and volunteering. They were looking for volunteers who have human resources experience or have held a recruitment role and have a clear understanding of a fair and equal interview process. It was also important to be a confident communicator who enjoys interviewing for a large scale major event. After the application stage, we had a telephone interview which covered more background about the role and asked some questions about my interviewing experience and other questions relevant to the role.
What sort of training did you have to undertake?
After getting the good news I was successful in getting the role, I then attended a training session. This was an opportunity to learn more about the role, what the process was going to be (i.e. some group activities and the interview questions) and how I was expected to rate the behaviours and answers against the agreed competencies. It was also good to meet up with some of your fellow SEVs and in some cases meet up with old friends & familiar faces!
Are you enjoying the role?
I enjoy the SEV role and I usually spring out of bed on my shift days, even though I know it is going to be a full-on, busy day. It is very rewarding. In a way, it is inspiring meeting so many enthusiastic, willing, wonderful people. It makes you feel quite good about the world, even though some of the outside news and weather might be a bit gloomy!
What is the best part of it?
The people, the people and the people! Also, the feeling of satisfaction and knowing you are helping the event to be a success. It is a great way to contribute to the event at an early stage, it makes you feel part of it and I am happy to be able to be a part of it in this way.
Every shift is different as well. For the upcoming World Athletics this summer, I will get to do more than just the interviews. I will also help with the Meet & Greet, Passport scan, Check-in, Photo station and the Group assessment activities – so there is real variety. The other volunteers come from a range of back grounds and with a lot of different interests too, so when there is a break, is it great to chat and make new friends.
What is the furthest a volunteer that you have interviewed has travelled from for their interview?
People have come from all over the UK to be interviewed. I have even interviewed people from Germany and Italy who are keen to get involved and support their sport of athletics. I have also heard of people coming from Spain, Croatia and The Netherlands for their interviews.
Are you also applying to be a Runner?
I have also applied to be a Runner as I think it a great opportunity to be involved in a major sporting event and to help make the event a success for athletes and spectators alike. I am really proud to be able to give something back to sport and to the community.
What type of role are you hoping for if you are selected?
I would be happy to do most of the roles, but I would love a role in the Team Services area, something “back office” but that is closely involved with making sure the event runs smoothly for the athletes and helps them perform their best, enjoy the event and even London.
Fingers will be crossed when the role offers are sent out in March and I will be hoping to get the good news. It will be hard not looking for an email every hour once news of the first offers have gone out.