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Thank you for subscribing to Capability Company’s nonprofit employer ezine.  This month’s article is about interviewing techniques, one of the trickiest parts of hiring the right candidate. I hope you find these tips useful in discovering your candidate’s talents and challenges.


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Rebecca L. Worters

A Guideline for Interviewing: Getting to Know Candidates

By Laura Gassner Otting, President, Nonprofit Professionals Advisory Group

(This article was originally published by, as part of their NonprofitOyster Pearls series.)

Volume 1 / Issue 5 / November 12, 2003 


There are many different types of interviews – telephone, progressive, committee, individual – and all sorts of ways to do them better.  Most start with better questions.


In addition to general questions about qualifications for the job in question or passion and knowledge for your organization and its mission, you may want to ask the following specific questions:


1. For entrepreneurial positions:  Describe a situation in which you created something, with your own energy, direction and ideas, and what became of it.  Provide some examples of systems that have improved or were strengthened under your watch, and describe how you did it.  Are these systems still in place?


2. For management positions:  What is your experience managing people and budgets? Have you operated in an environment with similar complexity as our organization as we've described it?  What challenges and strengths have you experienced in current or previous similar environments?  How would your bosses, staff, peers characterize them?  Do you have experience successfully managing an organization about to experience significant growth? How was that accomplished?


3. For support positions:  Tell me about a time when you successfully changed your supervisor's mind.  What kind of direction do you need, and how do you ask for help?  What would you consider to be the areas in which you have grown most during the past five years?


4. For development positions:  Relative to our current funding sources, where can you further diversify our funding base, and where can you help solidify it?  What are the most important things on which to focus during a fundraising campaign?  Tell us about your experiences in these areas.  What have been your most significant accomplishments in these areas?  What have been your biggest mistakes?  What have you learned?


5. For program positions:  What types of programs have you created/run in the past?  How have you assessed program success or failure and how have you changed programs accordingly?


Read more about the types of interviews and general interviewing tips here.



Laura Gassner Otting is founder and president of Nonprofit Professionals Advisory Group, a niche consulting firm dedicated to strengthening the capacity of nonprofits and their staff, and is available to discuss individual resumes, cover letters, and job search strategies. 

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