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Volunteer Interview Questions: Everything you Need to Ask & How to Conduct the Interview

Volunteer interview outline

The volunteer interview remains a critical component in the recruitment and screening process for any volunteer programming at your organization.

What’s the key to a successful volunteer interview? 

Asking the right volunteer interview questions.

So, this article will explore additional dimensions, such as assessing deeper motivations, gauging commitment levels, and adapting to the evolving landscape of virtual and remote volunteering. 

By broadening our questioning scope, we aim to enhance the effectiveness of interviews and volunteer onboarding, ensuring a robust match between volunteers and the needs of your program.

 

The volunteer interview is part of the volunteer recruitment and screening process. The interview allows you to get to know more about your interested volunteers and ensure that they are the right fit for your organization. 

While the primary goal of a volunteer interview is to determine whether your volunteers are right for the volunteer role, you can also take this opportunity to glean information from candidates that help inform your volunteer recruitment, engagement, and retention strategies. 

Ask the right volunteer interview questions, and learn more about: 

Volunteer Motivation

Understanding the deeper motivations of volunteers is key to creating a fulfilling experience for both the volunteer and the organization.  An example of a volunteer motivation question may be: 

What do you hope to gain from this experience?

A probing volunteer questionnaire can reveal the volunteer's personal and professional aspirations, which helps in aligning their goals with your organization's mission. 

For instance, asking "How do you see your values and interests aligning with our organization's work?" or "Can you share an experience where you felt fulfilled by helping others?" 

These questions not only provide insight into the volunteer's motivations but also open a dialogue about how their contribution can lead to mutual growth and satisfaction.

Volunteer Recruitment

Understand how volunteers are learning about your organization to direct recruitment and engagement efforts. An example of a volunteer recruitment question may be:

How did you learn about our organization?

Dive deeper with inquiries to uncover resonating channels. For instance, ask, "Do you frequent specific online platforms for volunteer opportunities?" or "Have you heard about us through community events?"

Open-ended questions extend beyond the initial contact, providing information for tailoring strategies. Ask, "What appealed to you when you first learned about us?" or "Can you share experiences with other organizations influencing your decision?" for a nuanced understanding.

Incorporating detailed recruitment questions opens avenues for more effective outreach. It aligns messaging with volunteers' preferences, fostering a stronger, engaged community.

Volunteer Placement 

Determine whether volunteers have the competency, knowledge, or skills to carry out the assigned task. Place applicants based on their volunteer interests and qualifications to boost retention efforts. An example of a volunteer placement question may be:

What experience do you have teaching children?

Explore further with questions to ask volunteers include "Are there specific age groups or subjects you prefer teaching?" or "Can you share instances where your skills were particularly effective in educational roles?"

These questions refine placement decisions, ensuring alignment with volunteers' capabilities. By asking, "How do you envision contributing to our mission through your teaching experience?" or "Are there other roles you believe complement your skills?" you gain insights for strategic placements.

Including detailed placement questions optimizes task assignments, enhancing volunteer satisfaction and organizational effectiveness.

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Volunteer Interview Outline

How to Conduct a Volunteer Interview

The volunteer interview is your opportunity to engage in conversation with prospective volunteers to understand more about them before placing them within your program. Before you begin to interview volunteer candidates, you’ll want to prepare some initial processes, like volunteer registration and background checks. 

Typically, a volunteer will submit the following prior to the interview:

Volunteer Registration 

This is often the first step in recruiting volunteers. During volunteer registration, interested volunteers provide basic metrics like full name, email address, and phone number. 

Volunteer Application

Once a volunteer finds an opportunity they’re interested in, they should be asked to fill in an application or interest form. During this time, gather information about the candidate’s schedule and availability, missing contact details, any relevant qualifications they may have, and the role they wish to apply for. The purpose of the application is to make an initial decision as to whether the applicant meets the minimum criteria for the position. Some organizations ask their volunteers to complete a quick, simple self-assessment to help inform the interview and placement process. 

Background Check

A volunteer background check serves to keep your community safe and safeguard your organization against negligence. The background check may not be necessary for all your volunteers. However, if they’re working with children or at-risk individuals, volunteers should meet background check requirements before moving forward. Once you have approved the application and background check, your volunteer is ready to move forward with the volunteer interview.

To ensure a positive interview experience, create a welcoming environment. Emphasize the conversational nature of the interview, allowing volunteers to express themselves. Highlight the significance of aligning volunteer skills and interests with organizational needs for a mutually uplifting relationship.

Volunteer Onboarding 

Outline strategies for a successful onboarding process. This can include orientation sessions, introductions to team members, and providing a volunteer handbook.

Highlight the importance of a structured onboarding process in helping volunteers acclimate to the organization's culture and expectations. Mention how onboarding is crucial for volunteer retention and satisfaction.

Volunteer Training 

Volunteer training equips new volunteers with the necessary skills and knowledge for their roles. This section can detail the types of training provided, such as role-specific instructions, general organizational policies, and skills enhancement workshops.

Emphasize the value of thorough training in ensuring volunteers are well-prepared and confident in their roles. Discuss how this can lead to more effective volunteer engagement and a positive impact on the organization’s mission.

Volunteer Lifecycle 

Describe the different stages of a volunteer’s journey with your organization, from recruitment and onboarding to ongoing engagement and recognition.

Offer insights into how each stage can be optimized to enhance the volunteer’s experience and contributions. Discuss the importance of regular check-ins, feedback mechanisms, and acknowledging the evolving needs and contributions of volunteers.

Tips for a Welcoming Interview Environment:

  1. Introduction: Start with a warm introduction, providing insights into your organization's mission and the volunteer role.
  2. Role Discussion: Describe what volunteering in a specific position and program involves. Candidates will get a clear picture of what volunteering with your organization entails. Understand how their role contributes to broader program goals, and what impact they can have on day-to-day activities.
  3. Conversational Tone: Frame the interview as a conversation, encouraging candidates to share experiences and ask questions.
  4. Alignment: Emphasize the importance of aligning volunteer aspirations with organizational goals for a fulfilling experience.

Deepening the Conversation:

  1. Motivational Insights: Inquire about motivations, using questions like, "What inspired you to volunteer with us?" or "Can you share an experience that fueled your passion for helping others?"
  2. Aspirations: Explore future goals with questions like, "How do you envision contributing to our mission?" or "What personal aspirations align with our organization's work?"
  3. Mutual Growth: Discuss how the volunteer contributes to mutual growth and satisfaction.

Enhancing interview strategies can lead to more effective and meaningful volunteer interviews. This approach not only ensures successful placements but also lays the groundwork for a positive, ongoing relationship with volunteers.

Conducting the Volunteer Interview

Your volunteers have made it this far. Now it’s time to conduct the interview.When possible, we recommend that you interview in person. It’s the most natural way of communicating, and you’re more likely to make a fair decision about the applicant when they’re standing before you (of course, in-person interviews may not be possible in all situations).

But before you ask your volunteer interview questions: 

You don’t need to jump right into your Q&A. Instead, take some time to introduce yourself and your organization. Clarify your program’s mission and describe the role and responsibilities of the volunteer. Then, discuss the benefits of volunteering with your organization. Remember, the interview is also a chance for the candidate to decide whether the volunteer opportunity is right for them. In fact, many candidates will make this decision during or immediately following the interview process. 

What’s the bottom line?

The volunteer interview should be a conversation, not an interrogation. Invite candidates to elaborate and ask questions in return, so that you can come to a collaborative decision about the best course of action moving forward. 

You’re probably still wondering:

What about interview questions for volunteersHow do I ask the right ones

The Right Interview Questions for Volunteers

What kinds of questions should you ask your volunteers? The direction of the interview depends on your goal for the interview and what you’re hoping to learn from your volunteers. To determine the questions you should ask, you’ll want to clarify your goals for the interview. 

What’s your goal for the volunteer interview?

  • To determine if the candidate’s values align with yours
  • To determine if the candidate has the skills and abilities necessary to perform tasks required of them
  • To learn more about the candidate’s background and personality
  • To learn more about the candidate’s passions and interests to better match them with the right volunteer opportunity
  • To learn more about what motivates your volunteers

Once you’ve established your goal(s) for the interview, you can make a list of the questions that will help you achieve your objectives. Use the list of sample volunteer work interview questions to inspire your next interview.

Volunteer interviews are just one part of a the volunteer recruitment process.

Learn how you can automate volunteer recruitment and organization in a free demo of Get Connected volunteer management software!

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Sample Volunteer Interview Questions and Answers

Here are some volunteer interview questions to ask, as well as guidance on answers to listen out for. Every volunteer will have a unique answer, so we’ve provided some tips on the types of answers of a successful volunteer. We have also included specific to some types of organizations, like hospitals and mentorship programs, to help you better formulate questions that work for your organization. 

Get your free sample volunteer interview questions!

General Volunteer Volunteer Work Interview Questions and Answers

Why do you want to work with our organization?

Learning about candidates' motivation reveals their values, aspirations, and expectations from volunteering. Seek a sincere connection between their goals and your mission. Volunteers should articulate reasons beyond generic benefits, expressing a specific interest in your cause. 

Encourage sharing stories or experiences that align with your mission, providing insight into their commitment and alignment with organizational values.

What makes you a good fit for this position?

Assessing a candidate's fit involves evaluating their skills, experiences, and personal qualities. An ideal volunteer seamlessly integrates into outlined responsibilities, contributing effectively to organizational objectives. 

Candidates should highlight relevant skills, experiences, and characteristics, offering examples to demonstrate their capabilities in essential areas. Encouraging specificity allows a more thorough evaluation of their authenticity and alignment with your organization's needs.

What makes you feel appreciated? 

Your volunteer should talk about what motivates them. Volunteerism is selfless work. While every candidate can benefit from volunteering (like gaining new skills, community connections, or career experience), the candidate should also express a strong drive to help others.

Encourage candidates to share personal experiences and anecdotes here. You’ll learn a lot about their background and the experiences that have shaped who they are and why they want to be active in the community

Do you prefer to work independently or collaboratively?

Understanding a candidate's style is vital for placing them effectively. The choice depends on the role and your organization's dynamics. Encourage them to understand the context of the volunteer role when responding. Ask for examples showcasing success in both styles. This reveals adaptability in various work environments.

Would you consider yourself a leader? 

Determine the appropriate answer based on the type of work you’re asking your volunteer to do. If you’re asking your volunteer to complete administrative work, for example, an independent worker may be the best fit. Other positions may require that your volunteer works well with others. 

Can you tell me about a time when you dealt with a difficult situation?

The candidate’s answer should highlight a strength, like their reasoning skills, resilience, or empathy. With careful listening, the interviewer can extract these strengths based on the volunteer’s response. This question will also help you understand how your volunteer reacts to challenges, which they may face when volunteering. 

More General Nonprofit Interview Questions:

Why do you want to do volunteer work?

Asking this question helps to understand the candidate's motivations and commitment to volunteering. It reveals what drives them to give their time and effort without monetary reward. Listen for reasons that align with your organization's mission and values. 

This question also allows you to gauge their understanding of the role and its challenges. Look for responses that show a genuine desire to contribute, a sense of community, or personal growth goals. It's a window into their empathy, social awareness, and how they might fit into your team's culture.

Tell me your story.

During your interview questions for nonprofits, encourage candidates to reveal their journeys to understand their backgrounds, experiences, and motivations. It offers insights into pivotal moments, life paths, and factors shaping their interests and values. Observe their narrative for communication skills, self-awareness, and the driving force behind their desire to volunteer.

What causes are you passionate about?

Understanding a candidate's passions reveals intrinsic motivations, aligning their interests with your organization's mission. Genuine enthusiasm often indicates dedication and commitment. Their response offers insight into areas where they may be most engaged and impactful.

What is your greatest strength? How does it help you volunteer?

Exploring a candidate's strengths gauges their self-awareness and how they envision using those abilities in a volunteer role. Understanding how they apply these strengths allows for the assessment of potential contributions. Seek responses highlighting skills directly relevant to offered roles, like leadership, adaptability, communication, or problem-solving.

How much time can you dedicate each week/month/year to volunteering with our organization?

This question measures commitment, aligning availability with organizational needs. Realistic assessment ensures alignment with the volunteer position's demands. Understanding time constraints aids in effective placement and scheduling for mutual benefit.

What interests you about the position you have applied for?

Encouraging candidates to express interest helps assess alignment between skills, interests, and role responsibilities. Seek responses with a clear understanding of the position's requirements and how the candidate's background or passion aligns. This ensures genuine interest and motivation for the responsibilities involved.

What questions do you have?

Promoting candidates to inquire during interviews shows engagement, interest, and curiosity about the organization and the role. Their questions can reveal understanding, expectations, and a proactive approach to seeking information. Encourage them to seek clarification on crucial aspects, fostering transparency and mutual understanding.

What barriers to volunteering do you anticipate? How can we help?

Proactively addressing obstacles demonstrates commitment. Candidates identifying challenges allows collaborative problem-solving. This question showcases their problem-solving mindset and resilience, gauging preparedness for potential hurdles in the volunteer experience.

Are there any accommodations you may have for volunteering in this role? If so, how can we help?

Asking about necessary physical accommodations ensures the organization addresses diverse volunteer needs. Candidates can openly communicate specific requirements needed to participate, fostering an inclusive and supportive environment.

Hospital Volunteer Interview Questions and Answers 

Here are some typical interview questions for hospital volunteers to ensure you’re finding the most qualified, responsible volunteers: 

What would you do if faced with an unhappy patient?

Provide your candidate with a scenario that may happen while volunteering with your organization. Based on their response, you can better gauge whether the candidate is prepared to take on the responsibilities of volunteering with your organization.

In which department do you feel most comfortable? Why?

The question tests your self-awareness and explores your working preferences. Encourage reflection on strengths, skills, and alignment with department requirements. Seek thoughtful responses that consider department dynamics and demonstrate how the candidate's attributes complement team needs.

What can you tell me about the volunteer role you’re interested in?

This assesses the candidate's preparedness and research. A well-informed response indicates an understanding of responsibilities and expectations. Encourage insights into how their skills make them suitable, ensuring a realistic understanding and genuine interest in contributing effectively.

What experience do you have in a hospital or medical setting?

It’s especially important for hospitals and other medical institutions to place volunteers appropriately, especially if the roles require technical knowledge or specific qualifications. Make sure the volunteer understands the requirements of the department you’re asking them to work in, and make sure the volunteer understands their responsibilities before moving forward. If you feel good about the candidate, don’t be afraid to suggest a different role or department where you’d think they would be better suited. 

Do you need help with your volunteer questions interview? Get our free guide →

More Interview Questions for Hospital Volunteers:

Why do you want to volunteer with this hospital?

Understanding the candidate's motivation can provide insight into their commitment and passion for contributing to the hospital's mission.

Are you willing and able to abide by HIPPA and other privacy regulations?

Compliance with privacy regulations is essential in healthcare settings. Ensuring that volunteers understand and are committed to upholding these standards is crucial.

Free download: volunteer interview outline

Children’s Hospital Volunteer Interview Questions:

Creating a positive and supportive environment for young patients requires volunteers with specific qualities. Use these questions to identify candidates who are well-suited for volunteering at a children's hospital:

What experience do you have working with children?

Assessing the candidate's experience working with children helps gauge their comfort level and understanding of the unique needs of young individuals.

What experience do you have working with sick children?

Dealing with illness can be challenging, and volunteers should have a level of comfort and empathy when working with children facing health issues.

Describe a time when you made a child smile. 

This question aims to uncover the candidate's ability to connect with and bring joy to children, showcasing their emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills.

Church Volunteer Interview Questions

Selecting volunteers for a faith-based organization involves ensuring alignment with the organization's values and principles. Use the following questions to identify individuals whose beliefs resonate with the mission of your church, temple, mosque, or any faith-based organization:

How do your beliefs shape your daily decision-making?

Understanding how candidates integrate their faith into everyday choices provides insight into their commitment and how their beliefs guide their actions.

How does faith play a role in your life?

This question delves deeper into the candidate's relationship with faith, helping assess its significance and how it influences various aspects of their life.

Why do you want to volunteer with our church/temple/mosque?

Assessing the candidate's motivation helps ensure that their reasons for volunteering align with the goals and values of your specific faith-based organization.

In what ways are you currently involved in our organization?

This question helps identify candidates who have taken the initiative to familiarize themselves with the organization, showcasing a genuine interest and commitment.

How do you communicate your goals for this organization?

Effective communication of personal goals within the organization's context demonstrates a candidate's clarity of purpose and ability to integrate seamlessly into the mission.

Explain the type of work culture in which you best perform. 

Understanding a candidate's preferred work culture helps determine compatibility with the organization's atmosphere, ensuring a harmonious fit within the faith-based volunteer community.

Victim Support Volunteer Interview Questions

The right volunteer for your organization should have more than a clean background check. Volunteers working in victim support should be empathic and considerate. These qualities are best determined during a face-to-face interview. Here are some questions you can ask your candidates:

What experience do you have with victims of [domestic abuse]?

Assessing the candidate's direct experience with victims of a specific trauma, such as domestic abuse, provides insight into their ability to handle sensitive situations and connect with those in need.

Describe a time when you expressed empathy toward another person.

This question aims to uncover the candidate's experiences demonstrating empathy, offering a glimpse into their capacity to relate to and support individuals facing challenging circumstances.

Describe a time when someone expressed empathy toward you.

Understanding the candidate's experience of receiving empathy sheds light on their ability to recognize and appreciate the importance of empathetic support, enhancing their effectiveness in a victim support role.These questions can also help when interviewing volunteers for a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) position. 

Youth Organization Volunteer Interview Questions 

We gathered examples from the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America interview process to help inspire your youth organization. Big Brothers Big Sisters incorporates a substantial, multi-stage interview process and home visit to ensure the safety of the children and teens they serve. Here are some Big Brother Big Sister interview questions that will also work for any youth organization or mentorship program:

Describe your relationship with your parents.

Exploring a candidate's relationship with their parents can provide insights into their understanding of family dynamics and the potential impact on their approach to supporting young individuals.

What does poverty mean to you?

This question aims to assess the candidate's perspective on socio-economic challenges, demonstrating their awareness and empathy towards issues that may affect the youth they will be working with.

How do you handle difficult situations between a volunteer and a child?

Understanding a candidate's approach to conflict resolution in working with children is crucial. This question helps assess their ability to navigate challenges sensitively and effectively.

Do you have experience working with children or teens?

Evaluating the candidate's prior experience working with young individuals provides insights into their comfort level, understanding of youth development and the potential skills they bring to the role.

Red Cross Volunteering Interview Questions

Organizations like the Red Cross must ensure that volunteers have the certifications and skills available to work on technical tasks. These Red Cross volunteering interview questions also work for other relief and response organizations:

What is your ability to work on an as-needed basis?

Assessing a candidate's flexibility and availability is crucial for emergency response organizations. Understanding their willingness to adapt to unpredictable schedules is key. 

Are you able to work on short notice?

The nature of emergency response often requires quick mobilization. This question helps gauge a candidate's readiness to respond promptly to urgent situations.

How do you handle high-stress situations?

Working in relief and response involves encountering high-stress scenarios. Assessing a candidate's coping mechanisms provides insights into their ability to stay composed and effective during challenging times.

Do you have any certifications relevant to the area you are volunteering for?

Certifications demonstrate a candidate's preparedness and expertise. This question helps ensure volunteers possess the necessary skills and qualifications for their roles.

Describe a time when you had to act quickly. 

This situational question provides a practical example of the candidate's ability to make fast decisions and take action—a crucial skill in emergency response situations.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Understanding a candidate's self-awareness helps assess their suitability for specific organizational roles. It also provides insights into areas where additional support or training may be beneficial.

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Don't forget your free volunteer interview outline! 

Need help interviewing volunteers? Get our Volunteer Interview Outline and make sure you are asking the right questions.

Moving Forward

From libraries to zoos, any type of organization can use these sample questions to ask volunteers what they need.

The volunteer interview is just one way to help your organization find the right volunteer for the job. After the interview, it’s important to maintain communication with the candidate and answer any questions they may have afterward. Provide a welcoming environment for new volunteers as well as the appropriate volunteer orientation and onboarding to help them succeed in their new role.

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