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8 Leadership Interview Questions to Ask When Hiring Nonprofit Leaders

To take your nonprofit to the next level, it’s important to find people who are knowledgeable and driven in order to support the goals of your organization. Finding these people starts with a structured conversation getting to know them and how they might fit in with what you’re looking for. 

Trends within the nonprofit sector indicate that 43% of organizations struggle to fill open roles due to a lack of qualified applicants. To sort through applicants and find the most qualified people, your team needs a structured strategy that includes well-thought-out questions for interviewees. Hiring takes time, and creating a structured strategy to find strong individuals will help you narrow down your candidate pool and ease the process for both hiring managers and candidates.

How Nonprofit Leadership Interview Questions Might Be Different from Other Interviews

The interview process is a way to sift through candidates and determine who will add value to your leadership team. Many for-profit companies look for qualified individuals who have achieved a lot over the years. While this is still important to focus on, nonprofits are trying to get to the bottom of the bigger picture and figure out why a candidate finds value in their organization.

When creating your list of leadership interview questions, be sure to touch on technical skills and knowledge, but really try to find a connection between their actions, accomplishments, and their values. Remember to be patient throughout the hiring process as it will likely take some time to find the right person. Once you’ve created a strong list, you’ll be able to narrow down your candidates and invite a strong leader to your team. 

8 Interview Questions to Ask to Find an Effective Leader for Your Nonprofit

After you’ve picked a few candidates to interview, make sure you’re ready to go with well crafted interview questions. Your interview questions need to be concise but also capable of opening up the floor for discussions surrounding the candidate’s qualifications as well as what additions they can make to your organization. 

Think about why you plan on asking your questions and what responses you anticipate receiving. Make a note of any responses that show a positive indication of a strong leader meshing well with your team and your mission. Here’s a list of leadership interview questions to help you get started. 

1. Describe your previous experience working with nonprofits.

In a leadership role, your candidate should have experience working with other nonprofit organizations. Allow them to explain these past roles and what they learned from them. During this conversation you should try to figure out how their past experience is applicable to what you expect them to do in their new role.

Previous experiences can show how a candidate has learned from past events, and help you figure out where they may need some coaching if selected. Ultimately, the goal of this question is to find a connection between what they’ve accomplished in the past, and what you can expect them to accomplish in the future.

2. Describe your management philosophy.

The goal of this question is to get to the bottom of how the candidate practices their leadership capabilities and the reasoning behind their actions. How does the candidate stay organized? How can they keep an entire team motivated? What methods do they use for providing feedback?

To be a strong leader, it’s important to find a balance between directing staff and inspiring them to do their best. When asking this question, pay attention to the relationship between the actions that the candidate brings up and the reason behind each of these decisions. Look for someone who would be a good mentor to guide others. 

3. What are some challenges you anticipate facing and how do you see yourself overcoming them?

Candidates who have prior experience working for nonprofits might have experienced some challenges that your team hasn’t come across. Picking their brain for what challenges they expect to face can determine how prepared they are to begin this new role and help your team plan for new challenges as well. 

4. How does our mission statement resonate with you?

Your mission is the guiding principle behind why you do what you do, so you should be looking for an individual who lives up to what your nonprofit stands for. By asking this question, you’ll be giving the candidate an opportunity to discuss how their current values align with your nonprofit. Do they mesh well? Are there any discrepancies that stand out?

Discussing your mission can help you establish if this person will be dedicated to following your principles and be fulfilled by the work that they’ll be doing if hired. 

5. What values guide and motivate you?

While this question is similar to the previous one, it provides an opportunity for the candidate to discuss personal values, in addition to those aligned with your mission statement. The driving force behind any nonprofit is their values as these are what helps individuals make decisions and stay motivated to achieve personal and professional goals. Try to get a sense of what additions this candidate could bring to the table.

6. What ideas do you have to help our organization reach our goals?

Leadership roles come with a lot of responsibilities, including the ability to use out-of-the-box thinking and dynamic problem solving skills. Any answers to this question should show ambitious qualities in the candidate as well as showcase their ability to think ahead and anticipate where they see themselves 3 months, 6 months, or even a year from now. 

7. What skills would you bring to our team?

When hiring for a nonprofit leadership position, you want to find someone who doesn’t just fit into your team, but brings new technical skills to it as well. Allow the candidate to discuss their past experiences and how their current skills would make a great addition to your organization. If they can discuss anything that’s not already mentioned on their resume or within the job application, ask them follow up questions and dive deeper into their unique talents. 

8. What kinds of experiences are you hoping to gain from this role?

While it’s great to have someone who is highly qualified for the role, it’s also important to find someone who is willing to learn and grow from a new experience. Overcoming challenges in a nonprofit leadership role will be difficult for anyone, but finding someone who is willing to work hard and tackle these challenges head on will show their determination to your organization. 

With this question, you should expect answers that show self confidence but also an ability to grow and adapt as time goes on.

Find the Right Leader with DickersonBakker

Sifting through candidates and filtering through applications can take a lot of time. In order to find the right match for your nonprofit, you shouldn’t rush through the interview process. To set yourself up for success, DickersonBakker provides executive hiring services to match your organization with qualified candidates.

We are committed to helping nonprofits find talented individuals who are capable of representing their values and driving success. By working closely with you and getting to know your values, we will recruit talent and build a strong leadership team. Ready to get started? Reach out to the Executive Search team at DickersonBakker today!

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