Interviewing

Determining whether applicants for volunteer positions are qualified or a good match.

Deciding if Your Animal Shelter is Ready for Volunteers, Betsy McFarland, The Humane Society of the United States, 2006
Interviewer Traps, Kathleen McCleskey and Cheryle N. Yallen
Massive Headaches?, Joe Willmore, Executive Update
Should We Cap the Number of Hours a Volunteer May Serve Each Week?, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2013
Unskilled vs. Differently Skilled: Maximize Volunteer Differences, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2000
The Volunteer Application Form, Susan J. Ellis and Katherine Noyes Campbell, pp. 5-6, Energize, Inc, 2003
"Tools and resources to better match people and organizations, improve the safety and quality of programs in communities,and reduce risks and liability", prepared by Volunteer Canada , 2012, pp. 104
SportsSafe (BC) , pp. 8

Researched and produced by Verified Volunteers, offers essential insights on the practices, challenges and concerns of organizations relying on volunteers, with screening tips to help you compare, measure and improve your organization’s volunteer screening program.

, 2016, pp. 32
EnVision Tips

Tips for interviewing potential employees or volunteers from the Community Services Council of Newfoundland and Labrador

First Advantage

Resource center of free information on conducting background checks on volunteers (from a company selling screening services).

Interviewing Volunteers

10 page booklet from Voluntary Action-Leeds (UK)

MENTOR: Components of Volunteer Screening

Detailed description of the interviewing and screening process, including reference and background checks.

Strategy for Interviewing Volunteers

Sample questions and other suggestions (keep scrolling through the pages) from Literacy Partners of Manitoba

Verified Volunteers

Free information center on how to screen volunteer applicants, with reports, white papers, case studies, and how-to checklists for volunteer resources managers, provided by Verified Volunteers, a company that provides background screening services to organizations. Also have a blog.

Volunteer Interviewing Scenarios

Written by Steve McCurley

Volunteer Management FAQs

Site maintained by Carter MacNamara. Scroll to sections on Screening Volunteersand Selecting ("Hiring") Volunteers

Volunteer Screening Blog

This blog, on the site of a screening service, discusses a variety of issues relating to background checks and interviewing volunteers, using real-life situations.

What Is Screening?

Excellent overview of the rationale for and steps of effective volunteer screening from Volunteer Canada. Includes "Screening in Faith" PDF for faith communities.

What Is Screening? - Volunteer Canada

Section of Volunteer Canada's site that explains screening and links to several excellent resources, including the 2012 edition of The Screening Handbook.

Print and e-Books in Our Store

Book cover

Definitive guide for screening volunteers and employees, explaining why and how to assure everyone's protection.

Book cover

Practical advice, tools, and techniques to conduct prospective volunteer interviews effectively - something every leader of volunteers must do all the time.

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New

Understand the concept and practices of virtual volunteering and integrate online service successfully into your overall volunteer involvement strategy.

Designed to examine the need for interviewing and screening volunteers and to share the basic process and skills necessary to do it effectively.

A Tongue-in-Cheek Look at the Trials of Volunteering (animated 3:50 min. video):  from tobijohnson.typepad.com, 2011 -- discusson starter on volunteer interviewing

Ask the Unexpected
From Susan J. Ellis, President, Energize, Inc.

One of the wonderful things about interviewing volunteers is that we do not have to probe only formal educational or work experience background. For many types of volunteer assignments, particularly those that match the volunteer with a client, what we are trying to discover is what the person is like in terms of personality, openness to different ideas, or even sense of humor. So we can be creative in what we ask during an interview.

Here is a starter list of interesting questions. Some of them I've always liked, but I also did a Google search on "unusual interviewing questions" and found more. Remember, the idea is to go beyond what an interviewer trying to fill a paid job might want to know.

  • What did you study in school that you've never had the chance to use/apply?
  • If you look at volunteering here as an educational experience, what new thing or skill would you like to learn?
  • What do you have most fun doing?
  • What has someone done for you in the past that you would like to "pay forward" by doing something for someone else?
  • If you could wave a magic wand, what things would you change or add around here?
  • If you had won a lottery of 10 million dollars, how would you spend that money?
  • If you could choose to meet a person from history, who would it be and why?
  • What do you think our clients could teach you?
  • If you could be a super hero, what would you want your superpowers to be?
  • What current news stories do you think most affect the people we serve?
  • What would you like to be famous for?
  • What do you think is the difference between volunteering and working for pay? How could we make your volunteer position distinct from any job you've had?
  • What adult, other than your parents, had an important influence on you when you were growing up?
  • What's interesting about you that your resume doesn't identify?

One last idea. Don't consider interviewing a one-time, at-the-start activity. It's easy to cubbyhole volunteers into the assignments we give them on day one. How do we identify volunteers with potential to do more or different things? Perhaps asking one or more of the questions above at periodic intervals, or during an annual review, will result in uncovering buried treasure.