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A recent New York Times story discussed an emerging
challenge for nonprofits in the US: unemployment and President Obama's call to
service are producing more inquiries from potential volunteers, but many
organizations aren't prepared to handle this volume of applicants. Are you ready
for a possible surge in volunteer applications? Don't let skilled, motivated
volunteers slip away -- prepare your organization by instituting an effective volunteer interviewing process.
Module 3 in Training Busy Staff to Succeed with Volunteers: The 55-Minute Training Series
Betty Stallings has developed
ready-to-present training designs on 12 elements of volunteer program
management. The "Interviewing
Volunteers" Module is designed to help you help your team examine the need
for interviewing and screening volunteers and to share the basic process and
skills necessary to do it effectively.
Remember, the volunteer
manager doesn't necessarily have to be the interviewer! Staff who will be
supervising volunteers "on the ground" or experienced volunteers can conduct
interviews, too. Teach them how with
this excellent training tool.
Included in the module are learning objectives, suggested script and expandable
activities, key concepts and notes to trainer, PowerPoint slides, handout
masters, a bibliography, a workshop evaluation form and more.
US$10.00 for single module. Or. . .
Purchase the Complete 55-Minute Staff Training Series (all 12 modules) for
|More Resources on Interviewing Volunteers
and Placing Volunteers" is the next
featured topic for Everyone Ready, the Energize online training
program. This Online Seminar will be available from May 18
to June 13. If you already have access to Everyone Ready, be sure
to view this timely presentation. If you hurry and join as an individual
by May 22, you will be able to participate in this seminar.
See membership details here.
article: "Group Interviewing Techniques: Hitting the Bulls Eye Every Time"
Traditionally, most volunteer
interviews take place in a one-on-one situation between the candidate and a
member of the volunteer program staff. The group interview process is an
inclusive one, involving volunteers and employees in the selection process. The
philosophy of group interviewing, designing the group interview process,
selecting and training volunteer placement counselors, the logistics of this
system, and more are explored in this article. Only $3 for non-subscribers;
e-Volunteerism subscribers can access full text of article here.
Volunteer Management: Mobilizing All the Resources of the Community
This excellent overview of
volunteer management practices dedicates Chapter 6 to interviewing volunteers
and matching them with appropriate work. You will return to this book again and
again for its comprehensive examination of every facet of a successful
volunteer program, from planning and organizing through measuring
effectiveness. See an excerpt from Chapter 6 below.
Beyond Police Checks: The Definitive Volunteer & Employee Screening Guidebook
Contains a section on
effective interviewing as an important part of the screening process.
| Book Excerpt
From Volunteer Management: Mobilizing All the Resources of the Community, by Rick Lynch and Steve McCurley, © 2006.
One of the most neglected areas of volunteer
management training has been that of effective interviewing of volunteers. This
is unfortunate, since good interviewing skills are essential to performing that
most crucial of all volunteer management tasks -- matching a potential volunteer
with a task and a working environment that they will enjoy.
Even more unfortunate is the fact that much of the
management training that does exist on interviewing deals with employment
interviewing, which is a totally inappropriate approach for volunteer interviewing...
Employment interviewing focuses on the question, "Who can do this job?" while
volunteer interviewing should focus on the more creative questions, "Who will
want to do this job?" and "What can this person contribute to accomplishing our
mission?" Ivan Scheier called this "the people approach" over twenty years ago,
and that phrase still exemplifies the proper attitude to the process.
Volunteer interviewing is not just a simple process of
comparing candidates against a list of desired job-related characteristics; it
is a much subtler process of trying to learn about the person who is being
interviewed, with an ultimate intent of shaping a work situation that will be
satisfying to the volunteer and to the agency.
Purposes of Volunteer Interviewing
Among other things this difference in approach means
that a volunteer interview has to accomplish more than the usual job interview.
There are two basic purposes:
Identify a "Fit"
Finding a fit includes determining the interests and
abilities of the potential volunteers, determining their suitability for
particular jobs, and assessing their "rightness" for the agency, its style of
operation, and its mission. "Fit" is the interpersonal matching of the needs
and interests of the volunteer with the needs and interests of the agency. An
examination of proper fit would include determining these items regarding the
"Rightness" means the likelihood that the volunteer
will fit comfortably into the agency's working environment. In many cases, this
will be the key predictive factor for success. Rightness could involve matters
of style (relaxed, frenetic), personality (neat, messy; introverted,
extroverted), behavior (smoking, non-smoking), political philosophy
(traditionalist, radical), or other factors that would affect how the
volunteers will get along, both with the agency in general and with the
particular staff group with whom each might be assigned. Very often these
interpersonal relationship factors become more important than factors of
technical qualification, which can be learned if the volunteer is willing to
stay with the agency. Quite simply, a volunteer who is happy in their working
environment will make the job happen; one who is unhappy will not try to do so.
- To what extent does the volunteer have
both an interest in a particular job and the necessary qualifications to
perform that job?
- To what extent does the volunteer have
other interests and abilities that might be used to create a different job for
him or her?
- To what extent does the volunteer have
a "rightness" for working well in a particular job environment?
This includes answering any questions or concerns that
the potential volunteers may have and letting the volunteers know that they
have the ability to make a contribution to the agency and its clientele, or
that they will derive personal satisfaction from helping. It is a quite
mistaken belief that the person who shows up for an interview has already
decided to volunteer with the agency. . .
Picking an Interviewer
Since the time available for assessing potential
candidates for volunteer positions is relatively short, it is important to have
a person conducting the interviews who is capable of making a satisfactory
judgment. A number of abilities are desirable in a volunteer interviewer:
Volunteers often make better interviewers than paid
staff. This is true for two reasons. First, they tend not to be "burned out" in
interviewing because they may be involved in a lesser number. Conducting
interviews is a draining process, and one that can easily be overwhelming. It
is common in this situation to stop listening after a while. Second, volunteers
tend to be better able to build rapport with potential volunteers, because,
after all, they have something important in common (they both thought the
agency was worth donating their time to). . .
- Broad knowledge of the agency and its programs
- Personal knowledge of staff and their quirks
- Ability to relate to all types of people
- Ability to talk easily with strangers
- Ability to listen attentively both to what is and what is not said
- Ability to ask follow-up questions
- Ability to follow the agenda of the interview without appearing to dominate
- Knowledge of non-directive interview techniques
- Ability to recruit and motivate while interviewing
- Commitment to the agency and its programs
- Ability to empathize with other people
- Ability to say "no" gracefully
[P]reparation is vital to the success of the
interview. A successful volunteer interview is quite different from simply
having a pleasant conversation. As Donna Johnston of the Volunteer Centre of
Great Britain noted more than ten years ago, "An interview is often defined as
a conversation with a purpose; the interviewer who relies on spontaneity and
impulse will often find he has had a delightful conversation but has failed to
achieve his purpose. Effective interviewing relies on self-discipline in
organizing and developing a conversation."
granted for organizations to reprint this excerpt. Reprints must provide full
acknowledgment of the source, as cited here:
Excerpted from Volunteer Management:
Mobilizing All the Resources of the Community, by Steve McCurley and Rick Lynch
© 2006. Found in the Energize, Inc.
Online Bookstore at http://www.energizeinc.com/store/5-224-E-1.
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Philadelphia, PA 19144
Energize empowers and inspires leaders of volunteers worldwide. Our specialty is creating and selecting the most relevant, innovative resources in volunteer management. We're advocates for the power of volunteers and for the recognition of the leaders who unleash it.