As organizations strive to achieve their missions, volunteers play an essential role. Volunteers can bring their unique skills and experience, helping to fill gaps in the organization and furthering its goals.
However, it is important to select the right volunteers for the job, and for the communities you serve. This is where conducting an interview with potential volunteers becomes crucial.
Why You Should Conduct an Interview With Potential Volunteers
An interview provides a valuable opportunity to assess a potential volunteer’s suitability for the role they are applying for. During the interview, your organization can ask questions related to the volunteer’s skills, experience, and interests.
This information then helps determine whether the volunteer is a good fit for the position, ensuring that they can contribute effectively to the organization’s mission.
But the benefits of an interview go beyond just assessing a volunteer’s suitability. It also provides an opportunity to build a relationship with the potential volunteer. By establishing rapport and demonstrating an interest in the volunteer’s aspirations, your organization can help to foster a sense of commitment and engagement.
Additionally, an interview is the perfect time to clarify expectations for the role. By answering any questions the potential volunteer may have, your organization can prevent misunderstandings and ensure that your future volunteer fully understands what is expected of them.
This clarity creates a more positive volunteer experience on both sides, and enhances the chances of the volunteer remaining committed to the organization.
Furthermore, an interview can help to identify any potential issues or concerns that may arise with the volunteer. For example, if a volunteer has a conflict of interest or a history of misconduct, the organization can address these issues during the interview and determine whether the volunteer is still suitable for the role.
You’ll also get a feel for how long they may dedicate to your organization both now, but in the future—do they make service a part of their lifestyle, or is it a one-off community service requirement.
What to Look for in a Volunteer’s Answers
When conducting an interview with a potential volunteer, there are several things to look for in their answers. Firstly, assess whether the volunteer has the necessary skills and experience to fulfill the role they are applying for.
This can be determined by asking questions about their past work experience, education, and any relevant training they may have received.
Additionally, assess the volunteer’s enthusiasm for the role and the organization’s mission. Volunteers who are passionate about the work they will be doing are more likely to be engaged and committed to the organization.
Asking questions about why the volunteer is interested in the role and what they hope to achieve can help to gauge their level of enthusiasm.
It is also important to assess the volunteer’s communication skills. Effective communication is essential for successful volunteer work, as volunteers will be interacting with other team members and potentially your local community.
Questions that assess the volunteer’s ability to communicate effectively help ensure that they will be able to work collaboratively and convey information clearly.
Lastly, it is important to assess the volunteer’s availability and commitment to the role. Volunteers who are able to commit to the necessary time and are flexible when needed will be more reliable and effective in their work.
Asking questions about their availability and any potential conflicts can help to ensure that the volunteer is committed to the role.
Best Volunteer Interview Questions
Adjust and tailor these questions to the specific role at your organization to ensure that they are relevant and effective in assessing potential volunteers.
- What motivated you to apply for this volunteer role?
- What experience do you have that makes you a good fit for this role?
- What do you hope to gain from volunteering with our organization?
- How do you see yourself contributing to our organization?
- Can you tell us about a time you demonstrated leadership skills?
- How would you handle a situation where you disagreed with another volunteer or staff member?
- How would you handle a situation where a member of the community was unhappy with the service you provided?
- Have you ever worked with vulnerable populations before? If so, can you tell us about your experience?
- Can you tell us about a time you had to adapt to a new situation?
- How do you manage your time and prioritize tasks?
- Have you ever had to work in a team environment? How did you contribute to the team’s success?
- Can you tell us about a time you had to deal with a difficult or challenging situation?
- What experience do you have with [specific skill or task relevant to the role]?
- What is one unique skill or talent you possess that you think would be useful in this volunteer role?
- How would you ensure that you are fulfilling the responsibilities of this role?
- Can you tell us about a time you had to demonstrate empathy or compassion for someone?
- What is your favorite way to spend your free time, and how does it align with your values?
- What is one thing you’ve learned from a failure or mistake you’ve made in the past?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- How would you handle a situation where you didn’t know how to do something?
- How do you handle constructive criticism?
- What is the most impactful volunteer experience you’ve had in the past, and why did it resonate with you?
- How do you ensure you are respectful and inclusive of diverse individuals?
- What is the most interesting place you’ve ever traveled to, and what did you learn from the experience?
- What are your long-term goals, and how do you see volunteering fitting into those goals?
- How would you handle a situation where you witnessed another volunteer or staff member acting inappropriately?
- Is there anything else you would like to tell us about yourself that we haven’t covered in this interview?
Shannon O’Donnell is an award-winning travel writer, speaker, and author of the acclaimed “Volunteer Traveler’s Handbook.” She’s been traveling the world for over 20 years, and is passionate about helping others use travel as a force for good.
She was the 2013 National Geographic Traveler of the Year for her work in responsible travel and tourism, and has appeared everywhere from NPR to the BBC to CNN as an expert in travel and international volunteering.