8 Best Practices for a Stronger Job Interview Process at Your Nonprofit

Kal Marcus
April 4, 2023

“It is not the answer that enlightens, but the question.” -Eugene Ionesco, Romanian-French playwright and one of the leading figures of the Theater of the Absurd 

I’m sure you’re wondering: What do obscure playwrights and nonprofit professionals looking to conduct a successful job interview with prospective candidates have in common? 

They understand the importance of asking the right questions! 

Whether you’re preparing to hire internally or a talent consultant who conducts many interviews for organizations of all sizes and sectors (like me), it’s very important to start with a strong list of questions and an equitable, clear interview procedure that will make the candidate experience smooth. 

After all, potential new team members are interviewing you just as much as you are interviewing them. You want to make sure candidates feel comfortable, welcomed in, and have all the context and information they need to present their best interview. 

So, where do you start? Check out these 8 best practices that will help your interviews go more smoothly than ever–and help you find a candidate who is a best fit for your organization. 

8 Best Hiring Practices For a Stronger Job Interview Process

  1. Review your question list through a lens of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Framing a question as “What is your major gifts experience?” versus “What is the largest gift you’ve solicited?”, for example, is more inclusive of folks from different backgrounds and sized-organizations and should get you the information you need–especially for a first round interview. 
  2. Start the interview with proper introductions. Especially for a first round interview. This might sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many folks conduct a job interview without sharing their pronouns, job responsibilities and role in the organization, and a window into their experience at the company. 
  3. Ask open-ended questions. Skip the questions that will elicit a yes/no or one-word answer when possible. It’s a best practice in journalism and job interviews. This will make the candidate feel more comfortable and elicit more detailed and insightful answers. 
  4. Frame the interview through a mindset of relationship building. Maybe this candidate isn’t the right fit for this position, but they would be amazing for a position that you plan on opening later in the year. 
  5. Listen closely and respond conversationally to interview answers when appropriate. This will make candidates feel more at ease. 
  6. Be mindful of your candidate’s time. Every organization is different, but I typically recommend no more than 2 to 3 interviews before making an offer–unless you are hiring for an executive or senior leadership position, which may warrant more time. 
  7. Maintain open communication with your candidates before, during, and after the interview. The reason many candidates arrive 40 minutes early for an interview (or late) is often unclear instructions. Where should I park? How do I get in the building? What dress code is appropriate? Who will be my first point of contact? This communication shouldn’t end after the first round interview. In my opinion, your top candidates should hear from you once a week with a quick update, so they’re not sitting around wondering what’s going on. In my experience, younger professionals especially appreciate this transparency and open communication. 
  8. Skip the assignments. In my opinion, I’m not a fan of creating unpaid assignments for potential candidates. You can ask for work samples, of course, but having folks do unpaid work as part of the interview process can make the candidate feel micromanaged or just frustrated. I imagine we will continue to see a trend away from this in the future. 

In general, when preparing for a job interview, the most support and information you can reasonably offer candidates is best. I hope these tips help you improve your job interview process!

I’m so excited to share today’s freebie, which is a list of our talent consultant’s favorite interview questions. Download it today

And if you’re struggling at any point in your talent search process, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at kal@evolvegg.com. Evolve Talent offers a full range of talent services, from coaching to hourly support to partnering with your organization to launch the search ourselves, to help nonprofits find talent that will help them live out their mission.