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What’s past is prologue.
~William Shakespeare

With the increasingly competitive job market for fundraising talent, it becomes more critical than ever that we make the best hires possible.  Many of us are asked to participate in the interview process, but few of us are given training or support to make those interviews as effective as they can be.

In the construct of the modern-day job interview, we generally give ourselves 60 minutes to determine whether a candidate will be successful in meeting the many challenges of the open position, whether they will be a fit for our organizational culture, and how they will contribute to the growth and success of our institution.  And so we ask, “How would you meet the challenges of this position?” “How would you fit into our culture?” “How would you contribute to our continued growth and success?”

The flaw in these conditional questions is that, given human nature, we would all like to think we would do the right thing in every situation.  And so candidates truthfully tell us what they think they would do. It just may not align with what they would actually do. These questions therefore only measure whether or not the candidate has a sense of what is the right thing.

Behavioral interviewing is based on the concept that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.  Questions are framed to ask candidates what they have done in the past relevant to the job they seek:

  • “This position will need to build a new portfolio of donors. Have you had the opportunity to do something similar in the past?  If so, how did you approach the challenge?  What were your successes?  What did you learn from the process?”
  • “Of your previous positions, where did you feel like you had the best fit with the organizational culture? Describe that culture to me.  How was it better for you than your other institutions?”
  • “Tell me about a time where you felt your work really made a contribution to the growth and success of your organization. What were you most proud of?  What challenges did you face?  What lasting impact did you make?”

Behavioral interviewing can be effective for a single interviewer or for a series of interviews.  Interviewers can rank score the responses they hear, creating an objective point of comparison between candidates and with other interviewers.

When behavioral interview questions are constructed around the competencies and qualities most needed to be successful in the position, they allow us, in our 60 minutes, to garner the information we really need that will predict a candidate’s success.  With a little planning and preparation, we can maximize the effectiveness of our candidate interviews to make the best hires for our institutions.

Are you interested in learning more about behavioral interviewing strategies? BWF can advise you and your team! Please contact us for more information.

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