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Charity talent acquisition - interview experience

Our Principal Consultant, Katherine, used the term 'experiential interview' in a meeting the other day, and it got us thinking!​

Our Principal Consultant, Katherine, used the term 'experiential interview' in a meeting the other day, and it got us thinking!​

The success of any charity is dependent on the way the team pulls together and whether an employee is connected to the mission and purpose. In the not-for-profit space, therefore, there is much value in creating an experiential interview process. We tend to follow standard interview structures, where candidates are invited to a room and are asked pre-agreed questions. It's quite one way and doesn't give the candidate a great understanding of the organisation they are considering working for. However, approaching the selection process in an experience format enables both parties to benefit from a two-way exchange of information.

The less formal and varied approach can put candidates at ease and decrease impostor syndrome. For the client, the experiential interview can provide a far more in-depth look at a potential candidate and reduce the chance of bad hires. It's an opportunity to push beyond culture and ascertain alignment of values.

We've been working with clients for years to create this type of approach. Some ideas for creating an interview experience are:

Meet the team

Often interviews comprise the applicant, the direct manager and perhaps a member of HR and meeting the team only happens after hiring. In your day-to-day role, however, it's unlikely you'll be working closely alongside those individuals. When it comes to fundraising, for example, the success of a charity depends largely on the combined efforts of a team. Facilitating this meeting on the day of the interview gives the client the chance to see how a candidate interacts with their potential new colleagues and for the candidate, it’s an opportunity to begin building important relationships.

Tour of the office

It can be easy for candidates to develop impostor syndrome, showing them the environment, they will be working in each day is an important step in building a sense of belonging. Fear of the unknown can be a factor in candidate decision, taking the first steps to building an environment of psychological safety helps to make them feel valued and included.

Visit frontline delivery of service

It can be beneficial for potential candidates to experience, even briefly, the space where they will be working to deliver the frontline service. This could mean that you include a visit to a shelter or centre as part of the interview day so that they get a real sense of the environment and demands they will be dealing with.

Meeting beneficiaries

Every single charity and not-for-profit organisation have identifiable beneficiaries that are at the centre of its mission and purpose. Having an interview experience where candidates connect to the beneficiaries is a fantastic opportunity for the candidate to understand the higher purpose they will serve and be sure that it is the path they want to take. Our most recent senior appointments in the health and social care sector have also included beneficiary interview panels, as well as the informal meet and greet.

Before and during the interview

Ensuring that candidates are provided with strategic documents relevant to both the interview and the organisation before they arrive is extremely important. Having clarity on what to expect plus an overall understanding of the charity can go a long way to allay nerves and build a sense ofinclusion.

Finally ensuring a candidate can ask questions throughout the process demonstrates their input is valuable and allows clients to gain further insight into the applicant. Leaving this to end runs the risk of time running short; providing this opportunity throughout can reveal layers of a potential candidate and demonstrate understanding far beyond the standard questions.

We all recognise that the we're in a tight candidate market at the moment, but making the whole recruitment process a positive experience for your candidates is a solid approach to ensuring you make successful appointments. We're here to help shape the recruitment in your organisation.

Adam Stacey
Managing Director
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