The interview form presented below is designed to elicit as much pertinent information as possible and as desired or required in the most advanced of interviews. However, for the vast majority of non-profit organizations, it is meant to be a guide to the conducting of a wide range of interview situations when seeking to hire a Director of Development. For each such hiring process, the questions selected by an interviewer for a non-profit organization should be relevant to the needs of that particular organization, and as the development professional’s duties are expressed in the job description. And, most important, they must be realistically in accord with the interviewee’s experience. The questionnaire is designed so that the interviewer asks questions which go beyond simple yes and no answers, thus allowing the job candidate to do a good deal of the talking.
Desired/Required Basic Skills
When hiring a professional development officer, the emphasis should be placed on the characteristics that are necessary for the appointed person to be able to carry out efficiently the position requirements. Specifically, you hire someone who can accurately and effectively communicate the mission of the organization, and who understands the importance of close interaction and teamwork among members of the development office and public relations/marketing personnel, as well as other professional staff and management. This person will also represent the organization externally in ways that foster the best possible relations with volunteers, actual and potential donors, sponsors and granting agencies. In succinct terms the requirements are:
- Knowledge of basic skills of fund-raising management;
- Superior organizational and communication skills;
- Donor and volunteer service mentality;
- Analytical capabilities;
- Conceptual skills.
Considerable attention should be centered upon the personality of the individual involved, since most often, the right temperament will dictate whether he or she will be successful. The development officer must be willing and capable of maintaining a low profile, allowing the volunteers and donors to receive the proper credit. The development professional must be flexible, persistent and very attentive to detail. He or she is an organizer and director, as the principal charge is to develop numerous efficient and compelling opportunities for donors to give their support, and at the same time to make those experiences satisfying and rewarding for them.
To reinforce and strongly promote the idea that having the proper temperament is key to a development professional’s success, the following is from a newspaper essay written by syndicated columnist Sidney Harris, titled
Temperament for High Office May Succeed More Than Talent:
“Most of us prefer to ignore our temperamental incapaities for certain jobs and functions. We imagine that because we have the skills and the knowledge and the expertise, we are thereby fitted for the task. Yet it has been my observation over the years that temperament is the most important ingredient in many crucial posts– and one that is too often ignored, both by those who proffer the job and those who accept those jobs. It has also been my observation that more people succeed by temperament than by talent, especially in those jobs where relating to people is the prime ingredient. A person cannot be dumb, but need not be especially smart if he or she has a native shrewdness and tact in handling people; whereas a far smarter person may come to catastrophe by overvaluing brains at the expense of other personality factors.”
Mr. Harris has it exactly right. That’s how I always appraise potential development job candidates. I hire and recommend entry-level development people largely based on their temperament and affability. How well they deal with criticism, are likely to handle volunteers and donors who are disappointed or upset, and show gratitude are key indicators.
Preparing For Your Interview of the
Candidate for Director of Development
Keeping in mind that you will look to the job candidate for the several key and basic skills as cited above, and being especially observant of the temperament of the job candidate sitting across from you, you are now ready to ask specific questions to the degree and number suited for your needs, and as related to the candidate’s experience in fund-raising management.
Sample Interview Questions for Candidates for the position of
Director of Development
CANDIDATE: ____________________________________________ DATE: _______________ (1) WE WOULD LIKE TO DETERMINE YOUR SPECIFIC MAJOR DAY-TO-DAY RESPONSIBILITIES AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS IN YOUR LAST 3 JOBS. FIRST, TELL US THE POSITIONS YOU HELD. THEN, WE WOULD LIKE TO ASK FOR INFORMATION RELATED, IN ORDER, TO EACH OF THOSE RESPECTIVE JOBS. (this allows for a possible growth pattern to emerge.) (1) Current position title ___________________________________ (2) Most recent previous position title ___________________________________ (3) Second most recent previous position ___________________________________ --- Approximate Annual Fund Campaign goal (1) $________________ (2) $________________ (3) $________________ --- Highest priority job duties (1)___________________________________________________________________ (2)______________________________________________________________________ (3)______________________________________________________________________ --- Tell us about a successful campaign you conducted (1)______________________________________________________________________ (2)______________________________________________________________________ (3)______________________________________________________________________ --- What was the major problem (s) that you faced in this campaign? (1)______________________________________________________________________ (2)______________________________________________________________________ (3)______________________________________________________________________ --- How did you approach the problem (s) and what were the results? (1)______________________________________________________________________ (2)______________________________________________________________________ (3)______________________________________________________________________ --- To what do you attribute the success of this campaign? (1)______________________________________________________________________ (2)______________________________________________________________________ (3)______________________________________________________________________ --- The major accomplishments/contributions for which you are most proud (1)______________________________________________________________________ (2)______________________________________________________________________ (3)______________________________________________________________________ (From this point on, all of the following questions relate in general to the interviewee's experiences and need not be related any longer to specific employment institutions.) (2) WHICH JOB DUTIES/RESPONSIBILITIES WERE YOU BEST AT: WHICH ONE OR TWO DID YOU EXCEL AT? (3) EVERYONE FINDS CERTAIN PARTS OF THEIR JOBS TO BE THINGS THEY WOULD JUST AS SOON HAVE SOMEONE ELSE HANDLE. WHAT ARE THOSE FOR YOU? (4) WERE THERE SOME ASPECTS OF THE JOB IN WHICH YOU FELT YOU COULD HAVE USED SOME ADDITIONAL TRAINING, EXPERIENCE OR SUPPORT TO BE MORE EFFECTIVE? (5) IF YOUR SUPERVISOR WERE HERE AT THIS TIME, WHAT WOULD HE/SHE SAY WAS THE BEST THING HE/SHE COULD DO TO MAKE YOU MOST EFFECTIVE? (6) IN YOUR MIND ARE THERE ANY DIFFERENCES BETWEEN DEVELOPMENT WORK AND PUBLIC RELATIONS/MARKETING? IF SO, WHAT ARE THEY? (7) ARE THERE A FEW THINGS THAT, NOTWITHSTANDING ANY OTHER ACTIONS YOU MAY TAKE, ARE SO CRITICAL IN DEVELOPMENT WORK, THAT IF NOT DONE, DOOM ANY CAMPAIGN TO FAILURE? (8) WHAT WOULD YOU SAY ARE THE CHARACTERISTICS THAT MAKE SOMEONE SUCCESSFUL IN DEVELOPMENT WORK? (9) WHAT WAS THE LARGEST ANNUAL FUND CAMPAIGN FOR WHICH YOU WERE RESPONSIBLE? (10) WHAT WAS THE MOST DIFFICULT DEVELOPMENT DECISION YOU MADE IN YOUR MOST RECENT/CURRENT JOB? (11) WHAT SPECIFIC STEPS WOULD YOU GO THROUGH IN DEVELOPING ANY ANNUAL FUND CAMPAIGN? WHAT WOULD YOU DO FIRST, SECOND, ETC.? 1._______________________________________________________________________ 2._______________________________________________________________________ 3._______________________________________________________________________ 4._______________________________________________________________________ 5._______________________________________________________________________ (12) WHAT SPECIFIC DEVELOPMENT PLANS HAVE YOU PUT TOGETHER? · GOALS:_________________________________________________________________ · NUMBER AND TYPE OF VOLUNTEERS:________________________________________ · THE RESULTS:___________________________________________________________ · WHAT WOULD BE DONE DIFFERENTLY NEXT TIME?:_____________________________ _________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________ (13) WHAT ROLE HAVE YOU PLAYED IN GRANT WRITING AND ADMINISTRATION? · WHAT SPECIFIC GRANTING AGENCIES/FOUNDATIONS HAVE YOU WRITTEN GRANT PROPOSALS TO? · WHAT WERE THE RESULTS? (14) WHAT HAVE YOU DONE IN THE AREA OF CORPORATE SPONSORSHIPS? · HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT OBTAINING SPONSORSHIPS? (15) WHAT SPECIFIC ROLE HAVE YOU HAD IN LEADING AND SERVING VOLUNTEERS? · HOW DID YOU SELECT THEM? IF YOU DID NOT PARTICIPATE, HOW WOULD YOU SELECT THEM IF IT WERE YOUR RESPONSIBILITY? · WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH THEM IN THE FOLLOWING AREAS ONCE YOU HAD THEM? ---- COMMUNICATING ---- TRAINING ---- MONITORING ---- SUPPORTING ---- MOTIVATING --- REWARDING AND RECOGNIZING · WHAT DO YOU SEE AS YOUR ROLE AND THEIR ROLE, ORGANIZATIONALLY? (16) WHAT DO YOU SEE AS YOUR POSITION AND ROLE RELATIVE TO THE TRUSTEES? (17) WHAT DO YOU SEE AS YOUR POSITION AND ROLE RELATIVE TO THE WOMENS/AUXILIARY COMMITTEES? (18) SUPERVISING/MANAGING OTHERS · WHAT NUMBER AND TYPE OF EMPLOYEES HAVE YOU MANAGED? · WHAT DO YOU THINK ARE THE TWO-THREE THINGS THAT ARE ESSENTIAL WHEN SUPERVISING OTHERS? 1. ______________________________________________________________ 2. ______________________________________________________________ 3. ______________________________________________________________ · WHAT WOULD YOU CHARACTERIZE AS YOUR MANAGERIAL STYLE? · WHAT WAS THE MOST DIFFICULT SUPERVISION PROBLEM YOU ENCOUNTERED? HOW DID YOU HANDLE IT? (19) WHAT HAVE BEEN SOME OF THE MORE INNOVATIVE PROJECTS YOU DEVELOPED? 1. _______________________________________________________________ 2. _______________________________________________________________ 3. _______________________________________________________________ · HOW DID YOU GO ABOUT SELLING THEM TO MANAGEMENT? · WHAT WERE THE RESULTS? (20) WHAT WAS THE MOST DIFFICULT DEVELOPMENT GOAL YOU ENCOUNTERED? · WHAT WERE THE CHARACTERISTICS THAT MADE IT SO DIFFICULT? · HOW DID YOU RESOLVE THE ISSUE? (21) WHAT ROLE DID YOU PLAY WITH THE TRUSTEES? (22) WHAT KIND OF REPORTS DO YOU FIND MOST USEFUL WHEN PLANNING, ORGANIZING AND REVIEWING CAMPAIGNS? · WHAT REPORTING SYSTEMS WERE YOU RESPONSIBLE FOR? · WHAT DATA DID YOU REQUEST? · FROM WHERE DID YOU GET YOUR FIGURES? · CAN YOU GIVE US AN EXAMPLE WHERE YOU USED SUCH DATA TO MAKE SOME ADJUSTMENTS IN YOUR CAMPAIGN PLANNING OR EXECUTION? (23) WHAT EXPERIENCE HAVE YOU HAD TRACKING CONTRIBUTIONS AND MANAGING REPORTING AND PLANNING? (24) CAN YOU GIVE US AN EXAMPLE WHERE YOU ANALYZED CONTRIBUTION INFORMATION AND MADE PROJECTIONS? · EXAMPLE:_______________________________________________________________ · HOW DID YOU GO ABOUT IT? · WHAT DATA DID YOU COLLECT? · HOW DID YOU ANALYZE IT? · WHAT DID THE DATA SHOW? ****AT THIS POINT, WE HAVE AN "EXIT" QUESTION WHICH MOVES FROM THE EXPERIENCE- PROMPTED RESPONSES TO AN UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT THE JOB ACTUALLY ENTAILS. WE NEED A BRIEF ANSWER TO: "WHAT IS THE BASIC FUNCTION OF A DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM?" THE ANSWER SHOULD BE SOMETHING LIKE THIS: "THE BASIC FUNCTION OF A DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM IS TO INITIATE, PLAN, ORGANIZE AND IMPLEMENT A STRATEGIC PLAN OF ACTION TO ACHIEVE THE CONTRIBUTED INCOME OBJECTIVES OF THE INSTITUTION." END OF INTERVIEW INTERVIEW CONDUCTED BY: _______________________________________________ DATE: ____________________ CANDIDATE QUALIFICATION FOR THE POSITION OF DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT (SUMMARY AS TAKEN FROM THE INTERVIEW PROCESS) NAME _______________________________________ ADDRESS _______________________________________ _________________________________________________ PHONE: (B)__________________ (H)__________________ CAREER SUMMARY _____________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________ EDUCATION _____________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________ EFFECTIVENESS _____________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________ INTELLECTUAL QUALITIES AND PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS _____________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________ SALARY NEEDS _____________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________ NOTES, COMMENTS AND RECOMMENDATIONS _____________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________
Don: Thanks, and keep reading the material so you can get as familiar as possible with the fund-raising process.
However, knowing the process, and putting it into action, is another story, especially when any such effort is greatly influenced by the status of the fund-raising goal’s true potential, deadlines and possibility, the resources available to you to carry out the job, and most important—that you are not “the” fund-raiser.
The D of D job is one of being the manager/facilitator of the plans carried out by the board and other leadership.
Thus first, and foremost, you need to know where you stand with the leadership’s expectations of how fund-raising is to be done.
I like your enthusiasm—your positive outlook. You could very well excel, but the only time quick training will work, is when that training is accomplished under the mentorship/supervision of either a fund-raising staff boss, or with the hiring of a capable fund-raising consultant, the latter to walk the learning and doing path with you.
Otherwise, were the job to be that of a “traditional” D of D, I suggest that you will have difficulty without having any practical experience.
(1) If you are expected to be mainly, or solely, “the” fund-raiser, then I would suggest that you think twice before taking the job. The reasons are explained thusly in the following article:
— Who Should Raise The Money From Within Your Organization?
(2) If you will be expected to help provide the plans, techniques and tools to carryout the traditional, and ever-workable, fund-raising plans to provide to the leadership and other volunteers, you must be familiar with, and be able to operate, each and every fund-raising component as listed in the following article—components which are at home in just about every size and type of fund-raising effort”
— Check Out Your Organization's Fund-Raising Readiness And Learn The Secret Of Fund-Raising Success
To cap off my sincere attempt to help you understand where you are, and the realities of where you want to go, I believe that the following article will give the overview you need:
— A Development Director Needs More Than A "Smile And A Shoeshine," But It's A Good Start
You can contact me off-line at any time when I may be of help. Just use the “Ask Tony” page on this website.
Best of all good luck.
Hey there, I've really enjoyed browsing you site today, glad I found it! Quite the wealth of information here! I just finished reading this article and I have a question for you. The Executive Director and the out-going D of D of a non-profit which I've worked with over the last year as their TV Commercial producer is now interested in talking to ME about filling the role of the new Director of Development within their organization. I went through this sample interview that you posted above and can only answer a few of the questions so I'm not sure what they see in me! What advice could you give me regarding their interest in me and how best to handle the process and the "interview" yet to come. Don't get me wrong, I think I could excell at this position (with some quick training!) I'm just wondering about the best way to move forward. I'd appreciate your thoughts! thanks
Director of Development job aspirants are I think please to see these huge stuff of questions. These can really helpful.
well enough 4all students and people professional point of view.
Arnee: I appreciate that very much. If that is you, entering into the leadership position, then I wish the best of success to you. Though the leadership reference means you are advanced and experienced in the profession, none the less, if that particular article was useful, perhaps the several other development-professional-related articles on this site can serve your needs, even if only to reinforce. Click onto the link for the Table of Contents of our articles. Scroll all the way down to the last section, “Developing The Development Team.” There you will find a wide array of articles geared exactly to what we development professionals do, and must do.
— Table of Contents
Thank you. This is most helpful. You touch on so many of the key areas to success for someone coming into a leadership position in Institutional Advancement and Development.