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5 Easy Ways to Improve Your Nonprofit's Interview Process

In the nonprofit world, it’s important to scope out quality employees who can contribute to the organization’s mission and propel its vision forward. For this reason, teams have a heavy load on their shoulders when searching for prospective candidates. Going from one applicant to another, scrolling through countless resumes, and screening cover letters can often be an arduous process.

Interviews allow people to highlight their achievements, express their passions, and show a glimpse of what they can contribute to a nonprofit—but it’s a relatively intimidating experience regardless of a candidate’s background and experience level.

Luckily, there are a few steps that hiring managers can take to streamline their interview process while finding the right candidates for a job.

1. Familiarize yourself with the candidate

Most job applicants prepare for the interview by researching the organization and the title that they are pursuing. Return the favor and peruse their resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile. What kind of nonprofit background are they coming from, if any? Do they mention any significant moment that continues to drive their work? Which communities do they passionately serve, and why?

Take the time to read their achievements, and jot down the questions you’d want to ask them regarding their past experiences early on. When the candidate sees that you took the time to get to know them on paper, they’ll appreciate it.

2. Prepare and ask effective questions

One of the most crucial responsibilities of the employer is to ask the right questions. Questions provide incredible insight into a candidate’s experiences, values, and overall work ethic. Begin the interview with more open-ended questions so that later on, you can move on to the more specific, topic-focused ones.

The following are just a few thought provoking, conversational questions you can ask to get to know your nonprofit interview candidates: 

  • What got you interested in nonprofit work?
  • What drew you to our organization?
  • Which of your past experiences are applicable to the responsibilities for this position?
  • Tell me about a time you demonstrated applicable skills that are crucial for this position. 
  • Which of our core values do you resonate with the most, and why? 
  • What are your growth areas, and what steps have you taken to improve in them?
  • What skills would you want to develop to further our organization’s mission? 

3. Ask follow-up questions

When a candidate gives a curt or sometimes even unclear answer to an important question, it’s best to give them the benefit of the doubt. Interviews can be incredibly nerve-wracking, and even the most qualified candidate can have a momentary slip up.

Ask follow-up questions that clarify or probe deeper into a candidate’s response. Whether it’s about their previous experiences, long-term career aspirations, or their general working style, follow-up questions always help pick a conversation back up.

4. Don’t be afraid to be human

Some of the answers your candidate might be giving you could be very personal in nature. It’s possibleand encouragedfor you to be professional while also being human. As a representative of your organization, express your best authentic self to the intervieweenot just to put them at ease for smoother conversations, but also to reflect a positive image of your nonprofit.

5. Communicate with your candidates before, during, and after the interview

After interviews, candidates usually play an excruciating, seemingly endless waiting game with many of the organizations that they interviewed with. Some respond promptly, some take a few days to a week, and others don’t respond at all. If you delay reaching out to a candidate, there’s always the potential they could join another organization. So whether it’s a reminder for the next interview stage, a thoughtfully-written rejection letter, or an exciting offer for the position, initiate the conversation as soon as possible.

You’ll save candidates their time and effort—and create a positive interview experience for everyone involved.

Is your nonprofit team growing? LinkedIn for Nonprofits can help you find the right people for the job. Contact our team to learn more.

This post was inspired by the LinkedIn Talent Blog article, “6 Things Every Recruiter Can Do to Make Interviews More Effective,” written by Barbara Bruno.

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