Interviewing to Find a Match

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Remember: A volunteer and organization partnership needs to be a match on both sides. Just because your volunteer position is not a paying job, doesn’t mean just anyone can do it. At the same time, you don’t want to give off an air of exclusivity during an interview such that the applicant feels he or she isn’t needed or wanted. Implementing a thorough application and interview process will give structure to the next stage of recruitment. These tools can make the difference between having a great volunteer in the wrong position, and a great volunteer who is maximizing his or her skills for your organization.

The process of taking on a volunteer should involve both an application and an interview.

The application should include the following: demographic info, past volunteer experience, computer knowledge, and potentially a matrix of skills that are relevant to your organization (e.g., bookkeeping or accounting skills, First Aid certifications, marketing experience, experience working with youth).

Additionally, decide who internally will manage the applicants. Organizations that don’t have a designated volunteer coordinator should assign a specific staff person to oversee the volunteer management and recruitment process. It’s critical that this process gets the oversight it requires, or you could end up with volunteers who just walk through the door, and who may or may not be a match with your group.

Interviews help determine the suitability of applicants for a particular job at your organization, and sell your organization’s mission to potential volunteers wanting to gain satisfaction from helping others.

Prior to conducting an interview, have the person’s application and background materials in hand. You should also have a list of your openings, with descriptions of duties and qualifications, questions related to job skills, open-ended discussion points, and info about the organization. Also, remember that the atmosphere and location of the interview are important. The volunteer is scoping out your work space and the office “vibe,” and what they see and hear during the interview will shape their feelings toward your organization.

During the interview, explore applicant’s interests, abilities, and situation. What kind of commitment can they give, what skills do they offer, and what are their preferences in a work environment and team structure? Where might they be a good fit? Too often agencies have the perfect volunteer in the wrong position. Discuss the job possibilities you have, and include information on time commitments and training.

In closing the interview, it’s a good idea to tell the applicant that you’d like to allow 24 hours for both the agency and the applicant to think things over and see if it’s a match. This will ensure neither side makes a commitment before thoroughly considering what’s involved. Be sure to explain what will happen next. Will you conduct background or reference checks? Contact the applicant about a second interview? Schedule training? What is the time frame?

Click to open interactivity Role playing scenarios can illustrate an applicant’s interpersonal skills and style.

Role playing scenarios can illustrate an applicant’s interpersonal skills and style.

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