Three volunteer engagement pros weigh in on behavior-based interviewing

Still on the fence - Twenty HatsReaders of my blog know that I am a big fan of behavior-based interviewing — and that’s because it works. Using this particular model means you engage volunteers who are a good fit from the get go, making supervision easier and increasing your odds for retention.

But don’t take my word for it. This week, I interviewed three volunteer engagement professionals who all use behavior-based interviewing and experience their own positive results. Here are their perspectives:

Keeping things objective

Priscilla Jahanian, a supervisor at Fairfax CASA, likes the behavior-based approach because it is competency-based and not subjective. “It takes the burden off of me making a decision based on my personal feelings about an individual. It gives me confidence because I know when to zero in for clarification.” Priscilla finds the method especially helpful for pinpointing interpersonal skills.

Great for skills-based volunteers

Working at the national level of the American Red Cross, Volunteer Relationships Manager Kim Gube sees behavior-based interviewing as a useful tool to use when screening for board or committee members. The national office has created a behavior-based interview form which it shares with the regional offices. “We are always looking for ways to make things efficient, flexible, and standardized. Our behavior-based interview form is a good option for the highly skilled volunteer positions.”

Adaptable for mass recruitment

And across the continent in Vancouver, Charlene Wee, CVA, of the Canadian Cancer Society, has used behavior-based interviewing for years — and adapted the concept in a clever way for mass recruitment events when she worked at a university to identify potential student leaders. For example, Charlene asked staff to help create scenarios and split volunteers into groups to problem-solve these scenarios. Her staff team would then observe the group in action, noting who stepped up to run the team, delegate or facilitate group dynamics. “It’s all about finding the best fit.”

A quick synopsis

Not familiar with behavior-based interviewing? Here is a quick synopsis. Behavior-based interviewers look for concrete examples of past behavior that demonstrate the competencies they seek in a volunteer position. They stay away from yes/no questions (“Are you good with spreadsheets?”) and hypotheticals (“What would you do if you had a scheduling conflict?”) The guiding premise is that past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. My ‘Beyond Intuition’ blog post shares even more about this method.

Get started now!

Are you ready to take this powerful tool and adapt it for your own program? Email me for for Priscilla’s top three behavior-based questions to get you started.