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Development Director
Job Interview Questionnaire

by Tony Poderis


Introduction

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.

Temperament

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 incapacities 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.

Additional Reading

  • Development Director Job Description http://www.raise-funds.com/exhibits/exhibit42.html http://www.raise-funds.com/exhibits/exhibit42.pdf

  • Plus several articles about Directors of Development: --- Fund-Raising Forum Library Table of Contents http://www.raise-funds.com/library.html (Scroll down the section titled "Developing The Development Team")

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

_____________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________



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About the Author: Tony Poderis was for 20 years to 1993 Director of Development for The Cleveland Orchestra and its Summer Home, Blossom Music Center. He was responsible for Cleveland's largest annual institutional fund-raising campaign. Since 1993, Tony has been a fund-raising consultant serving all non-profit institutions' needs to develop and to maximize their potential to raise Annual, Endowment, Capital, and Sponsorship & Underwriting funds.

Tony's experiences have won him a wide audience. At many hundreds of seminars and workshops in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, and Mexico over the course of his 30 years in fund-raising, he has addressed every facet of raising contributed income for social service, medical, educational, religious, and cultural institutions. He is a fund-raising Speaker/Specialist consultant to the United States Information Agency and the Mexican Government.

Tony is the author of a 115 page book on fund-raising published by FundAmerica Press titled "It's a Great Day to Fund-Raise!" In this publication, he has condensed his nearly three decades of fund-raising experience to provide a concise step-by-step guide to help all volunteers and professionals be as successful as possible as they carry out their fund-raising responsibilities for their respective non-profit institutions.

Visit his web site at http://www.raise-funds.com for more information about his book and lots of other great fundraising advice.

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