Ten Essential Nonprofit Job Interview Question Areas

Ten Essential Nonprofit Job Interview Question Areas

A Post from James V. Toscano

Many questions that should be answered by finalists for a nonprofit position are never even asked.  Given time, number of interviewers and the variation in job descriptions, there are still ten essential  areas that should be woven into any interview session.

These basic areas, or verbal variations thereof, should be covered with each candidate interviewed for consistency and comparison. Verbal answers should be noted, along with modes of expression and body language. All should contribute to the overall assessment of the candidates, along with such other factors as resume, experiences, references, compensation, potential and a variety of characteristics noted in interpersonal interactions with the candidate.

Too often, we project onto candidates characteristics that are not evident, based on our own hopes and expectations. This often leads to disappointment, a result not of actual performance, but often of our unrealistic expectations. Stick to facts and reality and be surprised by what results.

Start of the Interview

“Greetings. We are grateful for your interest in our position as director of XYZ department.  Let me introduce the selection committee members who will take part in the interview. We have approximately 60 minutes for our discussion.”

First Essential Area

I assume you have read about our ABC nonprofit, visited our website, talked to others about the position and thoroughly studied the job description for the director of XYZ department. With this background, what most interests you about the Mission of ABC?

Second Essential Area

What interests you most about this position for which you’ve applied as director of XYZ department? What motivated you to apply for this position?

Third Essential Area

Please tell us the major specific reasons why you want this job and feel you can do the job successfully?

Fourth Essential Area

Tell us about the relevant experiences and talents you have that qualify you for this position. Which of your personal and professional qualities would add advantage to your candidacy?

Fifth Essential Area

What changes, if any, would you make if you were chosen as our new XYZ director? What elements of the program would you retain?

Sixth Essential Area

What specific successes do you feel you would achieve

at ABC if offered the position? What specific outcomes would you try to achieve?

Seventh Essential Area

What challenges are you looking for in a position? What about this position would offer such challenges? 

Eighth Essential Question

What are the major longer-range impacts to be achieved in XYZ over the next three years? The next five years? How would you go about doing these? What resources would you need? Where would these resources be obtained?

Ninth Essential Area

We value long, successful tenure in jobs here at ABC. We are looking for someone to stay in the position for a substantial period of time. To what time period would you commit if offered this position?

Tenth Essential Area

Is there anything that we should know about you that hasn’t been mentioned so far in this interview?

What should we have asked you that we didn’t?

Certainly, there are many other specific things than might be asked in an interview, and they should be. The ten above areas constitute the backbone of the interview. Then flesh it out.

  1. Shawn Truelson Says: February 4, 2014 at 11:04 am

    These are questions private companies should also ask at interviews to truly understand the full breadth and depth of the candidate.

  2. Thanks for your comment. Yes, these question areas have applicability to private business. Thanks for pointing that out. j

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