Welcome to our first volunteers!

It’s all go for our volunteers seeing as the first interviews got under way last week at Caen’s d’Ornano Stadium. The aim of this first phase of recruitment was to bring together the 700 volunteers who will be participating to the three test events in summer 2013: Endurance in Sartilly on 16 August, Eventing at Le Pin National Stud and in Caen from 16 to 18 August, and Driving which will take place in Caen from 22 to 25 August. An excellent way to try everything out before the start of the Games in August 2014…

Welcome to our first volunteers!
© Comité d'Organisation Normandie 2014

Over the past week, the head of the volunteer programme, Samuel Hallifax, and his team of 25 recruiters got to the stadium bright and early to meet with applicants. These candidates had all previously asked to take part in the test events that have been lined up for August. Although this meant a lot of work for our team, it really was necessary to get to know the 700 candidates who will be helping the Committee to “pave the way” this summer.

«The type of work that we’re doing at the moment is quite similar to what we’ll be doing during the event itself. The only difference being the scale of what we have to do : this time round we’ve only got 700 volunteers compared to the 3,000 who will be helping out during the Games in 2014. » emphasised Samuel. «The aim is to try out the equipment and facilities, to see if the volunteers feel comfortable with what they have to do, and to get valuable feedback in order to be completely prepared for the D-day! » he added.

Nearly 3,000 applicants have signed up on the volunteer portal, but the Organising Committee has decided only to invite applicants from the surrounding areas or riders belonging to a club. These candidates either go through a phone interview or are asked to come to Caen to meet one of the 25 recruitment volunteers. Our recruiters have all been chosen for their expertise in the equestrian world or for their HR skills.

One of the recruitment volunteers, Alex Royer, isn’t actually a horse rider, but that didn’t stop him from wanting to be part of the adventure when the opportunity turned up.  «One of my friends has been working for the Organising Committee for a little while now. I didn’t even know what the World Equestrian Games were until two months ago and now I’m recruiting volunteers for the event… It’s an amazing experience». Just like his 24 colleagues, Alex does about fifteen or so informal interviews a day: half the interviews are carried out in Caen, and the other half over the phone if applicants live far away and aren’t able to get there. On average, these sessions last about 30 minutes, with a 20 minute conversation followed by 10 minutes of feedback. Those interviews are time-consuming, but according to Alex, it’s the very least the Organising Committee can do to thank those who have come forward to help: «It’s essential to give these people a proper welcome as they have kindly volunteered their help for free. During the interview, we give an overall presentation of the event and we reassure the candidate - it isn’t a job interview after all – it’s more like two volunteers having a chat together! We talk about the different positions that need to be filled, the skills and experience that everyone has to offer. Then we try to work out together what each person is happy to do and how that fits in with our needs.».

In general, candidates are highly motivated. At least that certainly was the case for Monique Binois, a riding enthusiast who lives in Caen. Monique first found out about the volunteer programme in the Ouest France newspaper. When she then saw a news report about it on the local France 3 Normandie news programme, it was like an overwhelming sign. «I just said to myself – that’s it, I’ve got to do it! It’s an international event that’s going to take place on my doorstep, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I just have to help out! »

Monique is definitely not the only person to feel like this, as nearly 1,000 applicants came forward last week for an interview. Regardless of their riding experience and their background, all these people have one thing in common: the urge to help out and play a part in the success of the biggest event in the equestrian world. «It’s amazing to see just how enthusiastic our candidates are» said Samuel Hallifax.  «They come from all over France: Paris, Lyon, Rennes…Two young women even drove all the way from Toulouse – that’s a 1,600-km round trip! It’s ever so motivating and promising to see that sort of thing, particularly when we still have over a year to go before the event! »

In fact all the recruiters have the very same impression. Jean-Pierre Margotteau, president of the COREN Eventing Commission said. « Not everyone necessarily knows much about equestrianism, but they still want to participate in this extraordinary event. A former French trekking champion in her forties, who has already presided over several equestrian competitions, was ready to help out in the car parks! Another surprising example: certain candidates turned down the chance to help out at the Endurance event in Sartilly….just because they wanted to participate for more than a day! It really goes to show how much everyone wants to help, no matter what they have to do».

Another aspect to our recruitment campaign: sustainable development. In a bid to respect the environment, the Organising Committee has computerised the interviewing process. And according to Samuel, this is really important: « During the London 2012 Games, each candidate was given a booklet. For our event, candidates just need to give us their details via an easy-to-use and intuitive computerised system. It means that we hardly use any paper at all; we’re taking care of the planet and setting an example to all ».

All the applicants who were interviewed last week will be contacted again via the volunteer portal before 15 July 2013. However, the other 2,000 candidates who have already applied don’t need to worry if they haven’t yet heard back from us – they should get their interview date via the volunteer portal before October 2013. In all, 5,000 candidates will be called in for an informal and friendly “interview” before February 2014.

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