Why Interviewing Volunteers is Crucial to the Success of Your Mission

Posted Thursday, July 5th, 2018 by Sterling Volunteers Staff

Why Interviewing Volunteers is Crucial to the Success of Your Mission

This content originally appeared on VolunteerMatch’s blog, “Engaging Volunteers”, and has been repurposed.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 62.6 million people volunteered at least once from 2014 to 2015. With so many people volunteering and even more wanting to help nonprofits, it’s important to make sure that you have the right candidate to volunteer for your organization.

In the blog post, Engaging Volunteers, Kayla Matthews agrees, “Nonprofits love their good volunteers — but that doesn’t mean they have to take in everyone who wants to volunteer. Volunteers need to be properly interviewed, just as employees do. You need to assess what they want to do and what they have done successfully in the past. You need to screen out any potential volunteer who isn’t a good fit with your organization”.

Why Should Volunteers Be Interviewed?

The volunteer interview is quite important – and can be very effective if you ask the right questions. Having a formal volunteer interview process is key. It allows you to see if the volunteer will be a good fit for the organization. Also, taking the time to conduct an interview allows the volunteer to learn more about the organization to see if they want to devote time to help the organization out. The interview allows for a valuable exchange of information between both the volunteer manager and the volunteer candidate. By the end of the interview, a volunteer manager will know whether they want to engage further with a potential volunteer or not.

What Volunteer Qualities Are Discovered During the Interview

The questions asked to the volunteer during the interview should reflect the qualifications that they are looking for in the volunteer as well as what the specific position requires. Volunteer managers should ask the right questions to understand what tasks are appropriate for the volunteer and if there are any limitations that might influence what tasks the volunteer can undertake.

VolunteerMatch blogger Kayla Matthews listed some of the information that should be discussed during an interview to find out more about a potential volunteer:

  • Experience and skills
  • Education and employment
  • Specific reasons for wanting to volunteer with your organization
  • Time commitment or hours available to volunteer

Don’t Forget to Check References and Run Background Checks

On top of the interview, volunteer managers should consider conducting personal reference checks. Speaking with individuals who know the candidate on a more intimate level can go a long way towards determining whether a potential volunteer would mesh well with your organization and your culture. Just because someone is very enthusiastic about volunteering for your organization, doesn’t necessarily mean that they could be a good fit for the job. If they are not a good fit, they could put the goal or mission of the organization in jeopardy.

It’s also important for the volunteer to get a background check, especially if they are working with vulnerable populations. Taking on volunteers who you have not spoken to or know little about could open your organization to potential risks to both the groups you are trying to help and your organization’s staff. For example, an individual would like to volunteer at a little league concession stand without an interview or reference checks. After a few games, volunteer managers found out that there were cash and supply shortages and complaints about the volunteer, which then reflected negatively on the little league.

Kayla Matthews sums up the importance of interviewing volunteers nicely when she shared, “Busy nonprofits do not need to accept every volunteer. Interviewing, getting references and screening volunteers will ensure both you and your volunteers have a positive experience”.

VolunteerMatch, alongside valued partner Sterling Volunteers, have come together to provide the highest quality background checks to nonprofits. Through this partnership, we can help ensure organizations are following best practices and taking the necessary steps to safeguard their people, assets and reputation.

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