Got any tips for a successful hiring process?

Hiring takes a good deal of time and sometimes money. The more thorough and careful your recruitment process is, the more likely the staff you choose will be successful and long term.

Here are several tips:

  • Decide whether to manage the search internally or with outside assistance—If your foundation decides to handle it, designate a director or trustee to be in charge of the process and determine some type of time schedule. It also is important to decide on the interview process, including how many interviews, who will interview, and whether there should be a prescreening phone interview.
  • Prepare an accurate job description according to identified needs—Be specific. Identify all the job responsibilities and functions you ideally would like the person to perform. It might be beneficial to list some of the personal qualities that a good candidate should possess. It also is helpful to include the foundation’s history and purpose. If your foundation has a website, you can direct people to the site to view more information.
  • Post the position in strategic places—Places you may consider posting the job may be free; others may charge a fee. Job postings can be placed in newspapers, in grantmakers’ association newsletters, or on the internet. Some local organizations (e.g., regional associations) even may send out e-mails to inform people of the job opening. Most candidates, however, are recruited by word of mouth or through contacts and networks with colleagues. Just be sure you have enough candidates. Hiring from a field of one is never a recipe for success.
  • Look for experience, talent, and skill—not personality or commitment to the cause—Look for candidates with previous experience working in nonprofit or philanthropic settings. Do not, however, confine your search to candidates with foundation experience; an outsider with a fresh approach can be valuable. It’s not always so easy to find people with foundation experience.
  • Engage other board members and staff in the interviewing—Different people notice different things in an interview and will have different ways of relating to the person being interviewed.
  • Listen in the first interview, talk in the second—Understanding that everyone has limited time, it is important to find out if the person would even be a fit for the organization before spending huge amounts of time explaining the work of the organization.
  • Check references—Checking references is always a good thing to do, even with those candidates with whom you are more familiar. Some foundations do background and credit checks due to the position’s access to large sums of money.

See also the Exponent Philanthropy publication Hiring Great Staff.

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