How to Interview Candidates for Nonprofit Jobs
After you’ve chosen the top three to eight résumés for the job opening at your nonprofit, invite the applicants in for an interview. Interviewing job candidates is a formidable task. Big companies have human resource departments with trained interviewers who spend their days asking questions of prospective employees. Here are some tricks for inteviews:
Prepared lists of three or four standard questions that you ask all applicants enable you to compare answers across applicants. The interview shouldn’t be so formal that it makes both the candidate and you uncomfortable, but standardizing it to some degree is beneficial. Here’s a short list of typical questions:
Why are you interested in this position?
What do you see as your strengths? As your weaknesses?
How would you use your previous work experience in this job?
What are your long-term goals?
Group interviews with three or more people can give interviewers good insight into how the applicant will perform in board and community meetings. Also, different people notice different things about each applicant. Avoid making the candidate face a large group, which can make her unnecessarily nervous.
If an employee isn’t your first and the job to be filled is for a director or supervisor position, arranging for each finalist to meet at least some of the staff he’ll be supervising is a good idea. Giving staff members a chance to meet their potential new boss is courteous, and their impressions are helpful in making the final selection.
You can’t ask an applicant personal questions about age, religious practice, medical history, marital status, sexual preference, or racial background. You can’t ask whether he has been arrested or convicted of a felony without proof of necessity for asking.
You also can’t ask whether he has children or about any physical or mental conditions that are unrelated to performing the job. For information about interviewing and other human resource matters, see HR ProOnline.
Taking notes during the interview is acceptable, and you also may find that preparing a checklist on which you can rate the applicant in different areas to be helpful. If you do, try to rate the applicants discreetly. Job interviews are stressful enough without letting the applicant know that you rated him a 3 on a scale of 1 to 10.