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ASK CONNIE

VT readers ask questions about volunteer management and administration. Ask Connie, an experienced volunteer manager, consultant and trainer, provides the answers for all to see.
Send questions to AskConnieP@cs.com

~2011 ~

INTERVIEW QUESTIONS FOR A NEW ADMINISTRATOR OF VOLUNTEERS

Dear Connie:

As a volunteer, which 3 questions would you ask a candidate during an interview for the position of Manager, Volunteer Services in a hospital?  Your quick response would be much appreciated.

IH

Dear IH:

Let's see now, I can think of many more than 3 questions <big grin>.  My suggestions assume that (1) you're a "leadership' volunteer which is why you've been asked to interview the candidate and (2) you haven't been given a specific area/topic to explore with the candidate.

Based on those assumptions here are my suggestions:woman interview

blue squareWhat do you like BEST about working with volunteers?

blue squareWhat do you like LEAST (be honest, please) about working with volunteers?

blue squareDo you or have you volunteered and if so, please describe your experiences as a volunteer.

I believe these questions will reveal the candidate's philosophy of volunteer management, his/her management style, and give you insight into the candidate's personality.  I hope these help! Good luck!


Dear Connie:

In my work I was recently asked by one of our principals if I could gather some information on how to have those difficult conversations with volunteer applicants who are not appropriate. I have one resource to offer, but would like to offer a few options for this person to review. Do you know of any articles, best practices or research I might be able to look at regarding this difficult subject? I have seen quite a bit offered on letting go of volunteers who are currently active in a program; but my concern is really more focused on the communication that occurs in the beginning of the volunteer process. Any help or resources you can offer would be wonderful.

Thanks for your time,
sm

Dear SM:

What you have described occurs in the volunteer screening process. Here are some resources that might help you:

check markVolunteer Today -- http://www.volunteertoday.com/ARCHIVES2003/June03recruit.html

check markEnergize, Inc. -- http://www.energizeinc.com/art/subj/scre.html

check markCorporation for Community & National Service -- http://www.nationalserviceresources.org/practices/17896

check markService Leader -- http://www.serviceleader.org/leaders/interviewing

check markE-How -- http://www.ehow.com/how_2214718_screen-volunteers.html

check markCoyote Communications -- http://www.coyotecommunications.com/volunteer/attitude.shtml

The above resources focus mostly on the screening "process" and you've asked specifically about that difficult conversation when you have to turn down a volunteer applicant. Whether you decline a volunteer applicant upon receipt of application or in the live interview, it's never easy. One response I suggest is: "We have no positions available right now that match your (skills, interests, availability, needs, etc.)." If the applicant is someone you can't place at the moment you can also add: "But we'd like to involve you in our program and will keep your application in our current file so we can contact you when an opportunity becomes available."

I find it is very helpful to have a detailed volunteer application so you can eliminate inappropriate applicants before you get to the interview stage. Also, telephone pre-screening can help you identify who's appropriate and who isn't for your volunteer program. The bottom line is that we never like to turn away potential volunteers, but the reality is that not everyone is qualified, appropriate, and/or available to meet your needs as well as theirs.


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Do you have a question? Now you too can ask an expert!

Connie Pirtle, of Strategic NonProfit-Resources, has 15 years' experience in working with volunteers. She has consulted and/or trained for such organizations as the Washington National Cathedral, Anchorage Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Music America, and the Association for Volunteer Administration.

Send your questions to Connie at AskConnieP@cs.com.
Connie Pirtle
Strategic Nonprofit Resources
314 E. Marie Dr. * Stillwater, OK 74075 * VOICE: 405.372.8142 or 202-306-1492


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