Just as in the for-profit world, the importance of interviewing cannot be overstated. Non-profit organizations are placed in a delicate position, because unlike employers, volunteers may feel insulted if put through their paces in the interviewing and screening process.
However, bringing in the right people is vital to the success of any organization. And successful volunteer recruiting requires successful interviewing. Here are some dos and don’ts that can make the interview process more effective:
- Don’t be swayed by others: Often, volunteers recommend their friends and acquaintances. In fact, current volunteers are great recruiters for your organization. But when it comes to the interview process, focus on the applicant and the facts, not on what you’ve been told. Jane or Justin might not be the solution to all your problems, no matter what has been said.
- Do pay attention to language: An interviewee who is unaware or uncaring about the language he or she uses with you is likely to continue in that realm around board members, clients and the public when representing your organization. People can be easily offended by vulgar, sexist or racist language, so if you hear any during the interview take it into consideration.
- Don’t judge by appearance: We all tend to form impressions based on limited exposure to a person—it’s human nature. But the best-dressed and most clean-cut people can still be dangerous to vulnerable populations. Only a complete volunteer screening and background check will tell you whether a prospective volunteer is safe to serve your organization’s clients, drive its vehicles and handle its funds.
- Do allow plenty of time: You may not have ample time in your day to interview potential volunteers, but this important task should not be shortchanged. Squeezing interviews between other meetings or being ill-prepared will likely result in a bad decision. You could either miss important red flags about a volunteer or overlook qualities and skills you need to accomplish your goals. Neither results in an effective volunteer workforce.