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by Floyd Rumohr

Click here to watch The Hiring Manager Video. Select title 3.3 in the Rumohr and Clarke Video & Template Library.

Most nonprofit directors and managers are responsible for hiring to some degree.

At these times, the hiring hat will become a priority and might even feel like a burden, especially if an unexpected absence occurs and when responsibility for developing staff is hoisted into all of the other duties.

Most for-profit companies figured out a long time ago that it’s a big job. Many of them have dedicated human resource professionals who, among other things, manage the entirety of the hiring and onboarding process. Small and most mid-sized nonprofits don’t have that luxury.

As a result, nonprofit program, executive, development, and artistic directors often find themselves in the lead hiring role. The responsibilities of which are numerous and time-consuming:

  • Arrange for and facilitate all planning meetings.
  • Draft position descriptions.
  • Advertise and list the position.
  • Communicate with candidates and members of the hiring team.
  • Arrange for and prepare all interview materials.
  • Participate in interviews and document the process.
  • Assess candidates.
  • Check references.
  • Recommend finalists to the executive director.
  • Onboard the new hire.

The above responsibilities could be shared among hiring team members to lessen the load on any one particular staff person. Alternatively, an outside consultant could be retained in the role of hiring manager resources permitting. However each task is accomplished and whomever does it, each is as important as any other and time-pressured nonprofit professionals should be cautious of temptations to speed by or eliminate. Prioritizing is essential to the role but omitting any one of the above could result in bigger problems down the road.

Staff, board, or committee meetings can provide opportunities to discuss these essential tasks that build human resource management capacity.

Next up: high inquiry questions.

Watch the The Hiring Manager in the Rumohr and Clarke Video and Template Library. Click here and select title 3.3.

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by Floyd Rumohr

Click here to watch the Purpose of Interviews Video. Select title 3.2 in the Rumohr and Clarke Video & Template Library.

Interviews are a necessary part of the hiring process and can be subject to interviewer bias.

“Many studies show that unstructured, face-to-face interviews are biased; interviewers prefer candidates who are likeable, similar to them, and physically attractive – even if these qualities are irrelevant to performance” reports Pfeffer and Sutton in the New York Times.

Is a well-intended employer supposed to hire someone they don’t like? Not exactly. Likeability, charming personalities, excessive self-confidence and other personality traits could bias an interviewer from really seeing and hearing the information needed to make a credible assessment. A candidate should not be hired just because that person is liked. This may sound obvious but it is a common hiring mistake.

A good interview process elicits information that can help predict future performance based on past behaviors. Generally-speaking, interviews should draw-out information that helps the hiring team predict the degree to which each candidate:

  • Has the skills and capability to do the job
  • Will perform at the organization

During a search for director of development at a youth services organization in New York City, the hiring team wanted to find out how each candidates’ past behavior and conduct might influence performance at the organization given its current challenges and priorities. Interviews focused on what each candidate actually did on a day-to-day basis, how they behaved, and what they accomplished. This approach was taken because past performance is one of the best indicators of how a candidate will perform in the future. 

Focusing on the skills, capabilities, organizational compatibility, and indicators of performance required by the position at this time in the organization’s lifecycle will increase the chances that the new hire will succeed and decrease the likelihood that hidden bias will sneak into the process.

Next up: the hiring manager.

Watch the Purpose of Interviews in the Rumohr and Clarke Video and Template Library. Click here and select title 3.2.

References and recommended reading:

Trust the Evidence Not Your Instincts” by Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton, New York Times, September 3, 2011.

by Floyd Rumohr

Click here to watch the Hiring Process Video. Select title 3.1 in the Rumohr and Clarke Video & Template Library.

Let’s face it. Hiring is an ancillary requirement of nonprofit leaders and managers of small and midsize organizations. Most are too busy doing other things to give it much thought.

As a result, common mistakes like hiring versions of the person doing the hiring or recruiting someone because of a charming personality can occur. In the worst cases and in the absence of a human resource professional, which is rarely seen at all but larger nonprofits, misjudgments in hiring can catapult a new hire into sudden departure with staff and board wondering what went wrong. Worse yet, havoc can result from a new hire who is a bad fit.

So how can a small or midsize nonprofit appropriately identify, attract, and retain appropriate talent? Thinking of each new hire as a small project might help. It requires planning just like any new mission-driven project or idea and generally has six stages:

  1. Collaborative Planning: hiring teams can include executive, program, development directors, and board members with whom the new hire will interact most closely. Essential questions for the team to explore include: what do we need to know from the process? what questions are we going to ask? who’s going to ask them? how many interviews are needed? who will assume the responsibilities of a hiring manager? and how will we evaluate the responses?
  2. Screening: these days, initial screening of cover letters and résumés can be done via e-mail but the speed of our virtual reality should not cheat application evaluation. Standard criteria such as amount of experience, degrees or certifications, and specific skills should be used to evaluate each cover letter and résumé that comes in. Collaboratively agreeing on criteria during planning will help identify the best candidates for a first interview.
  3. Interviewing: as with screening, a set of standard criteria and questions should be asked of all candidates in order for the process to be credible and fair. Questions requiring a yes/no response can be helpful in the beginning of an interview to help candidates feel comfortable especially when nerves are at their highest. By contract, high inquiry questions are those that stimulate a broad range of responses; penetrate the dimensions of experience, skills, organizational compatibility; and provide indicators of future performance such as in: “What do you think are the critical job challenges for this position and what in your background will help you succeed in meeting these challenges?” A second or even a third interview could be required and something to consider during planning.
  4. Finalists Selection: these are the top contenders — the best performers so far in the process. Reference checking, academic credentials verification, and salary requirements should occur on or before this stage so inappropriate candidates are not advanced through the process. Finalists can be brought in to meet members of the board, search committee, executive director, or any other stakeholders to provide insight.
  5. Negotiation and Offer: some verbal back-and-forth might be required at this stage. A written offer in the form of a welcome letter might include start date, salary, benefits package, probation policy, initial steps of the onboarding plan, and any other appropriate information.
  6. Onboarding: smooth transitions into a new position and organization are rarely accidental. They require leadership and planning. Designating someone on the team to be the hiring manager will facilitate this essential process and help ensure that the new hire sticks around.

Next up: purpose of interviews.

Watch the Hiring Process Overview (Stages) Video in the Rumohr and Clarke Video and Template Library. Click here and select title 3.1.

by Floyd Rumohr

Hiring. Yikes. Like it or not, executive, program, development, or artistic directors have to do it at one point or another. It doesn’t have to be a headache.

Marla Cornelius, Senior Project Director at CompassPoint, a nonprofit consulting firm, said in a New York Times piece that “There’s no such thing as a period of time when you’re not challenged by staff issues as the leader of a nonprofit. And since many nonprofits don’t have a dedicated human resources staff person, managing personnel just sucks you in and takes over your life.”

This series of blog articles is intended to mitigate the life-dominating forces of the hiring process and build the human resource capacity of small and midsize nonprofits through the following topics, most of which have at least one accompanying video:

  • Hiring Process Stages: six stages of the hiring process used during a national search for a director of development are described.
  • Purpose of Interviews: asking questions of candidates is a necessary part of the process. This is a brief reminder about the role interviews play for those new to hiring.
  • The Hiring Manager: a position description is provided for the responsibilities and role into which many nonprofit leaders and managers are plunged.
  • High Inquiry Interview Questions: get candidates thinking deeply instead of responding with memorized responses to anticipated questions.
  • Focusing Questions: learn how to focus questions to get the information you need in 1) skills and experience, and 2) working style and organizational compatibility.
  • Multiple Perspectives: avoid common hiring mistakes by engaging different perspectives in the interview process.
  • Evaluating Candidate Responses: fairly evaluate and capture candidate responses by examining the scoring and grading systems used in a national search for a director of development.
  • Onboarding: what is it? why do it? what are its benefits?

Next up: hiring process stages.

References and recommended reading: