It’s great to see that after a tough 12 months the economy is showing signs of recovery. This means that the market is slowly becoming more candidate driven. And many candidates are looking to the second half of 2021 with a more positive and open outlook. Some will be keen to change sectors, others are looking for greater flexibility, and many have reassessed their career priorities in readiness for a new challenge.
With more work available in the charity sector, you may need to fight harder for top talent, but this doesn’t mean that you should compromise on a thorough hiring process. What you might want to do, however, is rethink the questions that you’re asking at interview stage. Your focus should be on how candidates can weather tough times and how they can adapt to take on the demands of their new role. Here’s some questions you might want to consider.
How have you handled the work challenges posed by the pandemic?
Remote working has brought with it a whole host of issues which we’re adapted to and combated over the past eighteen months. They have varied depending on your job role and the nature of the charity’s work, so look for a specific answer. If your candidate is an event fundraiser, how did they make the shift into conducting online events? If they worked on the ground with communities, how did their work change? What difficulties had to be overcome?
Ask about communication challenges as these can tell you a lot about how a candidate works as part of a team. Watch out for brief and non-descript answers. If a candidate brushes over this interview question, or tells you that there were no issues whatsoever, this might be a red flag.
If you have had any time off (redundant or furloughed), how have you used this time?
This is a good interview question to see a candidate’s motivation and resourcefulness. Have they used the time to upskill themselves in a particular area of work? Have they tried to figure out the next steps in their career? Perhaps they’ve done some volunteering that has persuaded them that they want to move from the private sector into charity?
But bear in mind that it’s also an opportunity to gauge their honesty. Covid-19 has been tough for many people career-wise, but it’s also affected family and childcare arrangements, and in some cases, had a negative impact on mental health. If a candidate speaks candidly about the difficulties that they’ve faced while seeking work, you shouldn’t hold this against them. Instead, ask about what led them to pursue this particular role. Look for genuine passion for your charity’s mission and a desire to take on a new challenge.
Give us an example of the last time that you changed your mind about something you felt strongly about?
As the past year and a half has taught us, the world of work is in a constant state of flux, and we must change with the times. You’re likely looking for candidates who are able to demonstrate agility and are open to a discussion even if they feel strongly about a specific subject.
The answer to the above interview question will show you how rigid a candidate is in their viewpoints, as well as how open and honest they are. Remember that acknowledging diverse viewpoints show an openness to learning, which are a key element of both teamwork and personal growth.
What do you most value in your work relationships?
This is a strong alternative to the clichéd interview question about demonstrating how you work well autonomously and as part of a team. You might break it down to ask about relationships with a line manager and peers. Look for answers which focus on mentorship, training, and the opportunity to learn from more experienced colleagues.
It’s likely you’ll also get an insight into whether the candidate is a self-starter, who is willing and able to manage their own workload, or whether they’re looking for a manager who will set them tasks and monitor them closely throughout their progress. You might want to follow up with a question about how the candidate has found inter-team relationships during remote work, and how they have adapted.
What would we be losing by not hiring you?
This is a key question about a candidate’s knowledge of their own worth. It’s also a good measure of whether they’ve done their homework on your charity. Are they aware of your upcoming campaigns and plans, and can they demonstrate the concrete value that they are able to bring to each of these? Can they give examples of how they achieved similar outcomes in past roles?
As always, look for answers that will give specific examples of impact, rather than broad-brush, meaningless responses about being ‘hard working’ or a ‘a good team player’. If a candidate is passionate about your mission, and confident that they can help you achieve it, this question will give them a chance to shine.
Get your candidates to think on their feet
In a world that has been turned upside-down by Covid, it’s important to find candidates that can adapt to the changing times, show a willingness to learn and embrace new opportunities. We hope the above questions will help you do exactly that.
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