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5 Top Interview Questions to Ask Nonprofit Candidates

Finding the right person to join your nonprofit team can be a daunting task. Many hard skills can be taught on the job—but how can you tell if a candidate has the passion and potential to help you move your mission forward?

The interview process is your chance to really get to know candidates and understand what they can bring to your organization, so it’s important to ask the right questions. While most of your questions will be tailored to the specific needs of the role at hand, here are five that can help you assess some of the intangible qualities that make an exceptional nonprofit hire. 

1. What about our mission resonates with you and why? 

As a nonprofit, your mission is at the heart of everything you do. You want to know that your candidate not only understands your work but, ideally, feels inspired and moved by it—because if they don’t feel a connection to your cause, they may not find the job fulfilling. 

Whether you’re conducting the interview in person or via a video call, pay close attention to the candidate’s tone and body language as they answer this question. Do their eyes light up when they talk about your organization’s vision? Do they sound engaged and passionate about your cause? 

2. How do you feel you could use your unique skills, experience, and perspective to further our cause? 

This question allows for introspection, giving candidates the chance to go into more detail about their suitability for the role, while also providing space for them to talk about things that may not be on their resume. 

Maybe they have professional or personal experience working with the population you serve. Or, maybe they view themselves as a highly innovative thinker who can develop out-of-the-box solutions to complex problems. Even if they don’t have prior experience in the nonprofit sector, their answer should help you connect the dots between where they are now and where they can take your organization. 

3. What additional skills and experience would you like to acquire in this role?

A candidate might be a great asset to your team—but can you provide them with the learning opportunities they’re looking for? A sense of challenge is one of the most important indicators of employee satisfaction, helping people stay engaged and motivated at work, so this question can set the stage for a meaningful discussion about how they’ll grow and develop at your organization. 

It’s okay if candidates are still figuring out what they want from the next chapter of their career, so long as their answer doesn’t indicate that they haven’t put much thought into working at your organization. A strong answer will also show a sense of humility. It’s fine to be confident, but everyone has room for improvement. 

4. How do you stay organized when you have a lot of responsibilities to juggle?

Nonprofit employees tend to wear many different hats, especially at small organizations where budgets are tight and resources are limited. While you don’t want to put your candidate off, you need to know they’re prepared for this. 

Listen for references to specific organizational tactics, like maintaining a to-do list or blocking out time on their calendar to work on specific tasks or projects that need to be prioritized. A great answer will show a keen awareness of the fact that nonprofit work can be challenging, but that it’s rewarding, too.

5. Tell me about a professional experience where something didn’t go according to plan. What did you learn from the experience? 

Nonprofit work often involves a few curveballs. A major donor suddenly ceases their support. A speaker drops out of an event at the last minute. In situations like these, you need a team member who can adjust their approach and find a solution.

There’s no one perfect way to answer this question, so listen closely for references to the skills your candidate brings to high-pressure situations. Are they more analytical or creative? Do they rally the team? It’s fine if they handle things differently than you’re used to—after all, the right candidate may bring skills that complement those your team already has. 

Build a transformational team

In the nonprofit sphere, the right talent in the right role can change the world. Taking the time to build a thoughtful, tactical list of interview questions can help you find exceptional talent—and take your team to the next level. 

To learn how LinkedIn for Nonprofits can support your hiring strategy, get in touch today.

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