The hiring process is exhausting, no matter your industry. First, you have to determine the gaps and additional skills you need to efficiently grow your staff. Then you need to consult the appropriate coworkers to clearly define the position, deciding on their title, salary limits, and job responsibilities.

Next, you’ll need to start looking for candidates and start the interview process! Feeling a little overwhelmed? Check out these seven crucial questions you need to be asking to make sure you get the right staff fit for your nonprofit!

1. Tell me about your background.

Why ask? There’s a reason it’s a classic. This is your chance to compare what your candidate put on their resume to what they will tell you about themselves in person. This question allows you to see if 1. they are being transparent and 2. their experience is a good fit for your nonprofit’s needs. You can even provide a follow up question to see what a typical day in their past position looked like to get a clearer picture.

2. What about the position do you think you’d jump into easily and what would you have a hard time adapting to? 

Why ask? By this point, your candidate should have a pretty good idea of what the position entails (if you described the job responsibilities well). This overview will let you know how they evaluate their own strengths and weaknesses about this position without asking them straight out. Also, it’ll be good to know from a manager perspective what you’d be working with on a regular basis and how they can benefit your nonprofit.

3. What in our mission resonates with you?

Why ask? For almost any nonprofit, their mission is the heart of why their employees come to work. You want to make sure your candidate also feels the same way, otherwise they may not be a good culture fit. This question will also reveal how they uniquely relate to your mission, providing further insight on their personality.

4. Why did you (or do you want) to leave your last job? 

Why ask? While no one loves being asked this question, it’s beneficial to ask as it provides you some information about how your candidate deals with change. Also, depending on how much you’re researching your candidate’s references, this will reveal how honest they are being about how they cut ties with their previous employer or what their standing is in their current company.

5. Give me an example of a time you did something wrong.

Why ask? This open ended question will provide your candidate the opportunity to show how they handle and resolve conflict. As a hiring manager, you’re looking to see the candidate clearly identify the problem, explain how they resolved it, and see how they learned from the situation. Either way, this question can sometimes result in answers that are unnecessarily detailed or way too vague, so be sure to observe their communication style when caught off guard.

6. If we asked your family/friends what they might change about you, what would they say?

Why ask? This question allows you to get to the nitty-gritty of your candidate’s fundamental flaws. Let’s be honest: Even though we all have faults, not all of us are comfortable enough to talk about them. As a hiring manager, it’s important that your potential new hire feels like they can be transparent about their qualities, the good and the bad. In addition, it shows our humanity to admit these flaws, hopefully with humility.

7. Why do you want to work in the nonprofit sector? 

Why ask? Ultimately, you want to know that your candidate’s passion points align strongly with your nonprofit’s goals, as your staff is the “messenger” of change for your members. It’s not a secret that those employed in the nonprofit industry need to have a strong commitment and dedication to their work, as the hours are typically very long with sometimes little public appreciation. Better to know that this candidate is a good fit now as opposed to later!

It’s no secret that the employee turnover rate in the nonprofit industry is quite high. And though there are a number of reasons for that, one of the biggest factors affecting turnover is a poor (or nonexistent) onboarding process. Check out our free guide, Best Practices for Onboarding New Staff, to see what you can start doing today to cultiative a powerhouse staff!