man with boyProspective volunteers take a variety of paths on the way to your front door. Hopefully, they’ve had a chance to get to know you through a site visit, an agency-sponsored event, a self-guided tour of your website, or informal conversations with personal friends or colleagues. The interview process should deepen their understanding of your operation while giving you the opportunity to get to know them.

Use a written or on-line application to gather volunteer contact information, skills, and experience as well as interests, preferences, and availability. Candidates should grant permission for background checks as directed by the Oregon Department of Human Services. Encourage them to consider an array of volunteer opportunities by looking through a representative sample of position descriptions. Let them know that you are open to explore options should their interests and experience suggest other avenues of contribution.

High-impact first round interviews demonstrate your commitment to finding the right match between your organization’s needs and the individual’s distinct background, interests, and life circumstances. They assess whether or not a candidate has the skills, experience, and motivation to do the work. They help you both determine if a given position can meet the candidate’s expectations and fulfill personal goals. And you’ll both explore the degree to which there’s a strong cultural fit.

If there is mutual interest, make a connection between the candidate and the program supervisor or classroom teacher with whom he or she will be working. Encourage both parties to be very specific about their interests and expectations. For direct service positions, provide an opportunity for the candidate to observe one or more classrooms to ensure compatibility with the age of the children, the slate of activities, and the teaching style. The “fit” in these environments is especially important given the need for children to form secure attachments with adults.

Make sure you’ve got a tracking system to monitor the progress of a candidate from initial contact to completion. Volunteer management is equal parts human resources and public relations. The professionalism with which you engage each candidate could have a ripple effect on your reputation in the community at large.

Finally, create opportunities to gather feedback from volunteers and staff to ensure a fit between volunteers and their placements. If the affected parties are not excited about their “matches,” work with committed volunteers to find other placements.

Interviewing Resources

documentVolunteer Application (Family Building Blocks)

documentClassroom Volunteer Supplemental Questions (Family Building Blocks)

documentPhysical Rqmts for Classroom Volunteers (Family Building Blocks)

PDFInterviewing Volunteers (Jill Friedman Fixler)

PDFA Few Thoughts on Classroom Placements (Rita Vance and MeChelle Feldkamp)

PDFTen Points of Advice for Volunteers (Hiroshima Volunteer Network)