Finding the Right Development Officer for Your Organization: Part 2

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Executive directors often ask me for help with hiring the right development officer. Make sure you check out my previous column, which outlines the process.

Now, here are interview questions for finding your next fundraiser. Remember to alternate the general questions with the fundraising questions, and remember to assign different questions to different members of the interview team.

Questions about fund development

1)    Describe for us how, in a previous position, you overcame resistance to fundraising from:

a.    Program staff

b.    Your boss

c.    The board

d.    An individual board member

e.    The fundraising committee

2)    What is the process or the thinking that you use to build a development team and a development function?

3)    Share with us an example of a successful solicitation of yours. Describe the process from the concept and design of it through what made it successful, and what you learned from the experience.

4)    Share with us an example of a not-so-successful solicitation of yours. Again, describe the process from the concept and design of it through what made it not so successful, and what you learned from the experience?

5)    Tell us about your philosophy on relationship building, including the connection as you see it between relationship building and solicitation.

6)    How will you help this organization identify those who are interested, qualify them as prospects, and then transition them into donors?

7)    How would you describe (to a donor or prospect) why this organization matters, and what our impact is?

8)    How have you gained your knowledge of fund development?

9)    What key principles do you want everyone in the organization to understand about philanthropy and fund development?

10)    How do you evaluate the effectiveness of fundraising? What measures do you think are most important, and why?

11)    How do you develop yourself professionally? What blogs, authors, and publications do you read, and why? What topics do you focus on in your professional development, and why?

12)    What professional association(s) do you belong to and why? How do you participate in these?

Questions about general management and approach to leadership

13)   How do you approach a new job?

14)   What are the first steps you will take if you are hired for this position?

15)   How do you define leadership, and how do you describe your leadership style?

16)   Why do you want to work at [your organization here]?

17)   What skills and applicable strengths do you believe you bring to this position at our organization?

18)   Tell us about your experience and background, and how it prepares you for this position.

19)   Other than the skills required in the job posting, what skills do you have that you feel could enhance your role in this position?

20)   What mechanisms or tools do you use to evaluate the effectiveness of key projects?

21)   Why are you looking to leave your current position? –or– Why did you leave your last position?

22)   Tell us about a time when you had an overwhelming number of things to do.

a.    How did you prioritize?

b.    How did you get everything done?

c.    How would you evaluate your performance?

23)   Tell us about a time when you had to deal with an irate donor, co-worker, etc.

a.    How did you react?

b.    How did they react?

c.    What were the results?

d.    How would you evaluate your performance?

24)   Tell us about a time you had to deny someone’s request.

a.    Why did you have to deny the request?

b.    How did you go about telling him or her no?

c.    What were the results?

d.    How would you evaluate your performance?

25)   Tell us about a time when you didn’t have enough information to make a decision.

$1a.    What did you do?

$1b.    What techniques did you use?

$1c.    What were the results?

$1d.    How would you evaluate your performance?

26)   What is one of the toughest decisions you’ve had to make in the last two years? Why was it so tough?

a.    Walk us through the steps that led to your decision.

b.    What were the results of the decision?

c.    What did you learn, and how would you evaluate your performance?

27)   Tell us about a situation in which you worked with someone else whose background was different from your own. How did that difference affect your working together? How did you handle or respond to that?

28)   What have you done, either professionally or personally, to increase your own cultural competence?

29)   How would you create an atmosphere in which all team members feel valued and respected?

30)   Tell us about a situation in which others made negative remarks about an individual or group because of their ethnic background, religion, or sexual orientation. How did you respond?

31)  What do you anticipate to be your biggest challenge in the first 30 days and how will you handle that challenge?

32)   You have had a chance to review our strategic and fundraising plans. Please give us your feedback and general comments on what you see in these plans and how you would tackle some of the objectives that fall under the responsibility of this position.

33)   Describe your most ideal and least ideal boss.

34)   What have you been criticized for in the past two years? Why were you criticized?

35)   Share with us your concept of leadership. How would you describe the functions of the most effective leaders? What do good leaders do? What skills do good leaders have?

36)   Tell us about an accomplishment that you are truly proud of.

a.    Why does this mean so much for you?

b.    What effect has this had on your personal/professional life?