How to Properly Screen Volunteers for Your Non-profit

Having an established, methodical approach to screening candidates doesn’t mean that you have to do away with your natural intuition. There’s still room to consider your gut feeling about a person as a gateway toward further inquiry as opposed to using your feelings to make outright disqualification or hiring decisions.

Screening candidates becomes more critical as the sensitivity of the job role increases. For example, to protect your reputation, avoid negligent hiring suits, and eliminate risk to vulnerable community members, volunteers who will work with children and elderly must be rigorously vetted, while there is less pressure to run highly specific background checks on those who sort groceries or do non-sensitive clerical work for your organization.

Here a few back guidelines to follow as you screen your candidates:

  1. Customize screening procedures for the specific responsibilities of the position.
  2. Refrain from making a judgement until all the data is gathered.
  3. Ask the same question in different ways (i.e. verifying employment records by contacting former employers.)
  4. Include others from your organization in the selection process, though not all should have access to sensitive information.
  5. Don’t collect superfluous information on a candidate that you can’t consistently evaluate and make sure it’s necessary to the duty in question.
  6. Be consistent with the process with all the candidates of the same position. No preferential treatment.
  7. Be realistic and adaptable. If you don’t have the resources to screen with enough thoroughness for a specific, highly-sensitive duty, change the parameters of the duty itself so that it’s less sensitive.

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And don’t forget to consult with us as you begin the process of selecting volunteers for your organization.

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