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Hiring and Onboard Guide SnapshotHuman resource management topics of the Rumohr and Clarke Nonprofit blog have been compiled into the free booklet, Hiring and Onboarding for Small Nonprofits and Emerging Leaders, available for download at the Video and Template Library.

The sixteen page guide is ideal for in-service nonprofit professionals, entrepreneurial start-up founders, or anyone with limited experience in hiring and onboarding.

This free online resource furthers Rumohr and Clarke’s mission to strengthen small nonprofits and emerging leaders through comprehensive consulting services, coaching, and online content.

Post your comments, questions, and discussions on the blog!

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: