Some events call for specialized volunteer positions. You may need someone with a background in the medical field, experience with children, or strong communication skills. If you are coordinating an event with positions like these, you may consider holding interviews for your volunteers.
Before getting started planning for these interviews, first identify why you may need them:
- Required, specialized skills. Working with children, aiding in medical work, and handling money are a few examples.
- Limited positions. Sometimes you can just do an announcement for when your site opens for sign ups, but you might need to interview for any leadership roles.
- Working with a small team. It is important that team dynamics and expectations are understood by new volunteers. Interviewing candidates ensures you are doing that.
- Higher level of commitment needed. If this is not your average volunteer shift, it is good to make sure expectations are clear right from the start so you don’t end up short-handed.
Here are 10 questions and tips to find out if your candidate is good fit:
- Why are you interested in this position?
- This is a fairly basic question, so if they can’t answer it, that’s not a great sign. Make sure to know what kind of answer you are looking for. Is it enough if it looks good on college resumes? Or do candidates need to show more heart than that?
- Describe a time you would change a decision you made.
- No one is perfect, and it is important that everyone on your team is able to be conscientious, self-reflective, and honest about their work.
- What is your past volunteer/job experience?
- Even if you have resumes to look at, it’s always best to hear it from the candidate directly. This helps you better understand their attitudes toward their history of work experience, as well as their aspirations.
- What are your 3 best qualities?
- This can give you good insight into what the candidate thinks is important. Maybe you need someone that is a people person, or good under pressure.
- What amount of time are you able to commit to the position?
- This is just logistics. Know the dates, times, and hours weekly you’ll expect from them. Then, ask what they’re able to commit to.
- Pose a situational question.
- The actually question will depend on what position you are interviewing them for. You could ask about a time they had to work with a difficult child or parent, or were short in their cashier drawer. It will help determine how they will handle tricky situations on the job.
- How would you describe your communication style?
- You may already have some ideas of their communication strengths and weaknesses, based on the interview itself. However, give them a chance to express it in their own words. You may discover something insightful!
- Confirm they have the certifications, or other requirements needed.
- Do they need to be bilingual? CPR certified? If so, take the time to verify that information.
- Identify a handful of their volunteer interests.
- Maybe they are applying to volunteer in one department, but they are better suited for another department. The interview process allows you to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate, then place them in the role best suited for their strengths and preferences.
- Save time for the candidate to ask you questions.
- The interview process really goes both ways. This lets them get a feel for if the position is really the right thing for them too!
It is very important not to ask questions that could be considered discriminatory. Do not ask about a potential volunteer’s gender, race, political beliefs, relationship status, financial status, or religion. That includes asking where they were born, where their parents were born, if they own a home, or if they have children. Although some of those questions may seem innocuous, or like you are just trying to make a connection, the interview process is meant to see if they meet the qualifications you are looking for. Save the more personal chit-chat for later on.