Types of Nonprofit Interview Questions to Hire The Best Candidate

If you're not the best interviewer, you're not alone. It can be tricky to ask the questions that will really reveal who your candidates are – and if they're a good fit for your organization. In this article, we'll share four types of interview questions to help you find the best possible people for your mission.

6 minutes read
Types of Nonprofit Interview Questions to Hire The Best Candidate

Anthony Klotz, an organizational psychologist, had predicted back in May 2021 that the pandemic would lead to a surge of resignations. It is said that 4.5 million American workers have left their jobs since then. The Covid-19 pandemic has led people to rethink their relationships to work and search for more meaningful experiences. Nonprofits can benefit from this change if they know what to ask and who they’re looking for.

The following questions can help your nonprofit find passionate employees that fit your mission and bring new skills to your organization. We also have written a few tips to help you prepare the best questions for a position.

4 Types of Nonprofit Interview Questions You Must Ask

1. The introduction question

The first questions asked during an interview can help start you off on the right foot or end the conversation before it begins. The obvious questions like “tell me about yourself” and “what previous experience will help you in this role” are important.

To start with, as a nonprofit, you’ll want to share the importance of your organization’s mission and how each employee plays a role. Thereafter, the below question can be a unique way to ignite a fruitful conversation.

Sample question – “Why does our mission resonate with you?”

The most crucial part of any nonprofit is its mission. It is why you exist and how you encourage participation from donors and volunteers. Your staff must know and understand your mission and be passionate about what you do.

Most people who work at a corporation don’t know the company’s mission statement, and some can’t explain what the company does and why. When you work at a nonprofit, you have a responsibility to show up and do your job and be an advocate for the organization in your community. This is true for everyone, from the Executive Director to the front desk receptionist.

When you ask a potential employee about your mission, you want them to have done their research and have a desire to help the organization reach its goals. That doesn’t mean every candidate must have a personal connection with your beneficiaries, but they must be willing to learn and become a part of your mission and vision for the future.

2. Nonprofit knowledge and experience-based questions

Candidates that come from the corporate world can be a huge asset. These are often people with years of expertise. They may also have a personal connection or passion for your mission. But before entering a relationship, you and they must know how they’ll fit in a non-corporate world. Things in the nonprofit world can change quickly. All employees must understand the organization’s goals and challenges and work without a plan.

Sample question – What do you think are the key challenges facing nonprofits today?

If a candidate has worked in the nonprofit field before, they likely have faced a few of these issues already. Corporate candidates may have an entirely different perspective that you shouldn’t ignore. Some of these candidates are likely donors or volunteers for yours or other nonprofits in the area. Their knowledge can help you address issues you didn’t even know existed.

3. Questions based on their skills and your needs

Now you can delve into their past and see how their skills fit your organization’s needs. You want to find someone who can use their skills to support the organization’s needs, and every nonprofit knows those needs can come up quickly and without warning.

Sample question #1 – “How do you feel you could use your unique skills, experience, and perspective to further our cause?”

This is a perfect follow-up question to the first one on the list. Employees that work with nonprofits must be able to jump in at any moment. If a candidate has several skills they’ve learned from the corporate world but no idea how to work without a solid plan, they may not be the best fit for your nonprofit. Your best candidate should be able to think on their toes and relate their experiences to the organization’s goals.

Sample question #2 – “Have you ever been in a situation where the goals were not clearly defined?”

If a candidate’s work hasn’t given them the chance to react to unforeseen circumstances, their personal life probably has. When asking this question, you’ll want to make it clear that they can include all aspects of their life. Nonprofits have hired many people who’ve never worked in an office before and haven’t regretted it. Those who can show a willingness to learn are more valuable than someone with years of experience.

4. Questions to determine if they’re a cultural fit

Culture remains one of the primary reasons an employee chooses to join and leave an organization. Culture can include everything from the nonprofit’s purpose to daily expectations and relationships with co-workers. People can catch on to the organization’s culture from the questions asked during an interview. If you want to make sure the candidate understands your nonprofit’s culture, you should include a few topics in the discussion.

Sample question – How important are diversity and inclusion to you, and how would you ensure these values are met in our organization?

Remote and in-person work may be number one on people’s minds right now, but so is diversity. Black Lives Matter has opened many people’s eyes to the realities minorities face in the workplace. Nonprofits have a responsibility to lead equality and inclusion efforts in their communities. When hiring an Executive Director or other leadership positions, you must find someone who understands this responsibility and has plans to address it.

3 Essential Tips for Hiring The Best Candidate for Your Nonprofit

interview questions for non profit organization

1. Understand the role

This may seem obvious, but how many bosses have you had that couldn’t explain what you do? Before hiring anyone to fill a position, you must know what that person will do and how they’ll fit within the organization.

Understanding the role doesn’t mean you can create a list of activities and leave it at that. What will that employee’s work day look like? Are they coming to the office every day or not? Why? You’ll also want to create a list of goals you want them to reach immediately and give them deadlines. Candidates react much better to jobs they understand and can see themselves in.

2. Have a salary and benefits package ready

Job candidates are getting smarter and, thanks to technology, have access to the salaries and benefits offered by your competitors. If you want to entice the best candidates, you’ll need the right benefits. Nonprofits can’t compete with companies regarding salary, but there are benefits you can offer that corporations can’t or won’t.

Oftentimes candidates will share their preferences while getting candid about their past experiences with you. This may directly or indirectly pop the question of compensation and benefits they might be expecting. You should be ready with an answer that excites them about joining your team.

3. Keep an open mind

You may have an ideal candidate in mind, but sticking to those ideals can make you miss out on an excellent employee. Before speaking with any candidates, you should split these ideals into must-haves and wants. This way, you’ll know what you aren’t willing to compromise on and what you can so you don’t have to let go of this candidate.

Final Thoughts

Nonprofits have trouble finding suitable candidates to fill some roles, but preparing for interviews and asking the right questions may help. Questions that focus on how an individual’s background and experience can help your nonprofit. And whether they’re a culture fit for the organization will give you a better chance of hiring your ideal employee.

Human Resources are a vital organizational role many nonprofits don’t think they can afford. If you’re looking for ways to increase your staff and find qualified staff, we’ve written an article to help you develop an HR department in your organization. Check out the rest of the Donorbox Nonprofit Blog for more tips, nonprofit best practices, fundraising ideas, donor management insights, downloadable resources, and more.

These days nonprofits and organizations require staff that are well aware of online tools and can easily set them up for fundraising success. Donorbox is a simple-to-use and powerful online fundraising tool that’s also popularly known as a one-stop-shop for nonprofits. You can easily get started in about 15 minutes. It requires no documentation, no setup costs, and no monthly contracts. Over 80,000 organizations are using Donorbox and they’ve successfully raised $2 billion – and counting! –  in donations.

Donorbox features include Recurring Donations, customizable Fundraising Pages, Crowdfunding, Peer-to-Peer, Events, Memberships, QuickDonate, Text-to-Give, Donor Management, and more. Learn more on our website.

Donorbox Premium is a success package designed for nonprofits of all sizes and types. We offer you expert fundraising coaching, a dedicated account ambassador, premium tools, and a team of tech wizards – all focused on a single aim of helping you raise more money and acquire more donors! Pricing is personalized for each nonprofit. Book a demo today!

Avatar photo

Kristine Ensor is a freelance writer with over a decade of experience working with local and international nonprofits. As a nonprofit professional she has specialized in fundraising, marketing, event planning, volunteer management, and board development.

  • linkedin
  • url

Join the fundraising movement!

Subscribe to our e-newsletter to receive the latest blogs, news, and more in your inbox.

Take your donor experience to the next level!
Join the 50,000+ nonprofits already raising funds online.
Join Our Newsletter
Get a monthly curated round-up of our best posts and feature updates. (You can unsubscribe anytime.)
Join Our Newsletter
Get a monthly curated round-up of our best posts and feature updates. (You can unsubscribe anytime.)
Join a 30min Demo to see how Donorbox can help you reach your fundraising goals!
Join a 30min Live Demo to see how Donorbox can help you reach your fundraising goals!