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Successful Volunteer Interview Strategies


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Interviewing each prospective volunteer can seem overwhelming, but it's one of the best ways to ensure that the volunteers you recruit are the volunteers you need. This webinar introduces a variety of question types used in volunteer interviews and offers strategies for honing your interview skills. Materials will be provided to help you implement this process in your organization, as well as a training syllabus so you can learn how to recruit and train a volunteer staff to assist with prospective volunteer interviews.

Successful Volunteer Interview Strategies

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  2. 2. 2Successful Volunteer Interview StrategiesTo hear the presentation by phone call:(646) 307-1708Access Code: 243-315-894Jennifer Bennett, CVA, Senior Manager, Education & TrainingMatt Wallace, Senior Associate, Nonprofit Relations
  3. 3. 3Agenda•Why Conduct Interviews?•Preparation•Specific Interview Processes•Forming Good Questions•Interviewing Pitfalls•Evaluating the Interview & Further Steps•Interview Solutions for Groups
  4. 4. 4Why Conduct Interviews?• From the Organization’s Perspective– Promote Organization– Expand on information from application– Investigate validity of information– Obtain additional verbal and nonverbal information– Identifying the fit• From the Potential Volunteer Perspective– Learn more about organization, culture, programs, etc.– Norms and Values– More complete understanding of roles and responsibilities– Decide if it’s a good fit
  5. 5. 5Preparation• Written Volunteer Position– Volunteer Recruiter and Supervising Staff• Communicating Overall Interview Process– Create Buy-In and Trust• Appropriate Level of Interview– Interview Matches Position• Who’s Going to Interview?– Team– Volunteer(s)– Committee• Final Decision Making– Volunteer and Supervising Staff
  6. 6. 6Specific Interview ProcessesPreparation• Schedule adequate time• Private Space – clean, orderly, no distractions• Reviewed position description – identify skills needed• Select questions
  7. 7. 7Specific Interview Processes (continued)Conduct Interview• Open Interview - put potential volunteer at ease• Convey purpose of interview – dialog• Overview of organization• Ask potential volunteer for background information –interests• Questions relevant to position – roles and responsibilities• Core Questions – same questions for same position• Respond to potential volunteers questions –responsibilities, organization culture, etc.
  8. 8. 8Specific Interview ProcessesClose the Interview• End Interview - be clear and concise• Outline Next Steps and Timeline– Background check– Reference checks– Interviews with staff– Training schedule• Convey how and when the offer will be made• Don’t complete the process at this step– Shouldn’t be sole basis for volunteer placement– Accept or not accept
  9. 9. 9Forming Good Questions• Closed Ended Questions– Answered by “yes” or “no”– Do not foster additional information or conversation– Begin with “Can” “Do” “Will” “Is”• Examples– “Do you type?”– “Can you work in the evening?”– “Do you enjoy working with children?”
  10. 10. 10Forming Good Questions• Open Ended Questions– Require an explanation– Help you delve for more information– Start with “What” “When” “How’ “Where”• Examples– “How did you…?”– “Tell me more about…?”– “What did you like about…?”– “What would you change about…?”
  11. 11. 11Interview Pitfalls• Not Being Prepared– Don’t have questions relevant to position• Doing all the Talking– Interviewer(s) talk 25% of the time• Active Listening– Making a decision before the interview is complete– Not asking follow-up questions• Remember Your Goal– Describe organization, position, responsibilities, etc.• Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know”– Follow up with information you don’t have
  12. 12. 12Evaluating the Interview• Schedule time to write up interview notes– Summarize interview while impressions are fresh– Clear descriptors – jog memory– Summarize pros and cons – trust your first impressions– Body language– Surprises or interesting answers– Are they a good match?– What additional information is needed from other sources?– Make a recommendation for next steps
  13. 13. 13Further Steps• Create a timeline for decision making• Checking references• Background checks• Next Interviews• Orientation• Training• How offer is made
  14. 14. 14Preparing for Group InterviewInterviews for Short-term or Event Based Volunteers• Flyer– Overview of event• Handouts– Individual Positions• Interest Form– Contact Information– Choice of Position– Other Information: T-Shirt size, Training Dates
  15. 15. 15Group Interview• Orientation/Overview of event• Briefly speak about each position• Allow time for position selection• Fill out Interest form• Answer questions– Team of volunteers
  16. 16. 16ResourcesLearning CenterFind upcoming webinar dates, how-to videos and morehttp://learn.volunteermatch.orgVolunteerMatch CommunityAsk and answer questions after the webinar – use keywords Interview Strategies Related Webinar Topics:The New Volunteer Manager’s ToolkitMeasuring Success: How to Strategically Assess your Volunteer ProgramWalking the Walk: Engage Volunteers in your Volunteer Engagement Program
  17. 17. 17Thanks for attending!Join us online:Like us on Facebook: us on Twitter: @VolunteerMatchVisit Engaging Volunteers, our nonprofit any questions contact:Jennifer Bennett(415)
  18. 18. Sample Interview QuestionsIt is important that the individuals conducting the interview are prepared with the appropriate questions.Throughout the interview, consider how well the volunteer and the position complement each other orhow the potential volunteer listens and responds to the questions. Choose one or more appropriatequestions from the following areas. You may choose to ask additional questions based on an individualsresponse to your initial question(s) and in relationship to position responsibilities outlined in the positiondescription.Leadership Skills• What experiences have you had in working with adults and/or children in a volunteer or employmentsetting?• What skills and qualifications do you have that will help you in this position?• Describe how children/other adults would view you as a role model.• Describe a time when you had to work as a member of a team to complete a project.• Describe how you would engage other volunteers in programs where you are responsible.• Give an example of how you would involve parents, guardians, or other community members in yourprograms.• What do you plan on doing as a volunteer?• Describe a leadership role you have held. What made that role challenging? What did you like aboutserving in a leadership role? What did you dislike?• What kind of rewards do you need to stay motivated?• How do you like to be recognized?Human Relations Skills• Consider the following scenario: Volunteers are talking behind an agents back. What do you do?• What kind of people do you most enjoy working with?• Describe a time when youve been involved in a conflict with another individual or group.• How did you handle the situation?• How would you work with an upset parent or volunteer?• Describe a situation when youve been criticized. How did you react? What did you learn?• What kinds of people do you find hard to work with and how do you handle the situation?• What kind of discipline techniques would you use with: disruptive or irresponsible children; a childwho deliberately defies your request for cooperation; or a child who consistently misses meetingswithout explanations?• Describe a time when youve worked closely with someone from a different background fromyourself.• How do you feel about working with people different from yourself? What did you learn? (i.e.different racial/ethnic backgrounds, developmentally disabled, different socio-economic, backgrounds,different sexual orientation, etc.).• Describe your ideal supervisor.Organizational Skills• Describe a typical day for yourself. Describe a particularly busy day.• What record keeping experience have you had?• How would you organize youth/adults to work together on a project?• What techniques/methods have you found to be useful? What does not work well?• Describe how you would help a group of youth/adults reach a decision.• Describe instances when you have planned or conducted meetings.• Describe an "ideal" meeting.• Are you willing to attend orientation/training sessions to assist in your volunteer role?Successful Volunteer Interview Strategies 1
  19. 19. Successful Volunteer Interview Strategies 2 VolunteerMatch.orgAdaptability• Describe a situation in which you did not get your way or when you did not agree with a decisionmade. How did you handle it? What was your reaction?• Describe a particularly stressful situation in which you have been involved. How did you handle this?What made it stressful?Dependability• Describe one project/activity for which you had total responsibility from the beginning to the end.• How do you handle a situation when you know that you are unable to complete an assignment orcommitment?• Do you have available transportation if needed?Communication• How comfortable do you feel speaking in front of a group?• What public speaking or writing experiences do you have?• What, in your opinion, makes a good listener?• What methods could you use to communicate with participants in a program that you are responsiblefor?• Describe a situation when you were responsible for speaking in front of a group of people.• What strategies do you use to communicate with others in a stressful or tense situation?General Questions• What do you want to accomplish as a volunteer?• Why do you want to be a volunteer in our organization?• What is your view on competition?• How important is winning to you?• What attracted you to [Organization Name]?• Tell me about your current and past volunteer experiences.• What have you enjoyed most about previous volunteer positions?• How much time would you like to volunteer?• What specific skills do you have to contribute to the program?• Tell me about your work experience.