5 Top Interview Questions

the board/ceo partnership Apr 08, 2024
5 Top Interview Questions


The interview process is your chance to really get to know candidates, whether Board or Executive Director, and understand what they can bring to your organization, so it’s important to ask the right questions. 

While most of your questions will be tailored to the needs of the role at hand, here are five that can help you assess some of the intangible qualities that make an exceptional hire.


These were developed by the LinkedIn for Non-profits Team and have been reviewed and revised a few times.


The questions are well worth answering but I provide a few caveats as well. In each case, you will want to listen to what is being said but also pay attention to the tone and body language. You will also want, and this is important and rarely done, verify critical answers through your reference checking.


1. What is it about our mission that resonates with you and why?

I would add “and values”. Two pieces come into play here: [1] Has the candidate’s investigation included your mission and values? Did they bother to uncover them? Do they know them? and [2] How do these reflect the candidate’s values? If you want to encourage passion for your mission, it must reflect the values and priorities of the candidate. One could add that there is no better way to ensure stress and burnout than a lack of alignment of values.


2. How could you use your unique skills, experience, or perspective to further our cause? 

What are their unique skills? How have they most successfully used them? Can they articulate their strengths? How have these been used in the past? How can they uniquely advance your mission?


3. What additional skills and experience would you like to acquire in this role?

Providing learning opportunities is the number one way organizations are working to improve retention. Instead of turning to a cliché like “Where do you see yourself in five years,” use this question to gain a clearer understanding of the individual’s ambitions and how working with your organization could be an important step toward achieving their goals.

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4. How do you stay organized when you have a lot of responsibilities to juggle?

Not-for-profit employees tend to wear many different hats. You need to know your candidate is prepared for this. 

Listen for references to helpful organizational tactics and skills like maintaining to-do lists or blocking out time on their calendar to work on high-priority tasks. Ask for examples of situations the candidate has handled in the past or ask them how they would tackle a specific challenge that has occurred within your organization before.

A stand-out answer will show a keen awareness of the fact that your work can be challenging — but that it’s rewarding, too.


5. Tell me about a professional experience where something didn’t go according to plan. What did you learn from the experience? 

Your work involves a few curveballs. You need a team member who can adjust their approach and find a solution.

There’s no one perfect way to answer this question, so listen for references to the skills your candidate brings to high-pressure situations. Are they more analytical or creative? Do they rally their team? 


It’s fine if they handle things differently than you’re used to — after all, the right candidate may bring skills that complement and round out those your team already has. As your candidate answers, think about how their approach would affect the team dynamic. Would they bring something your team needs?


What are your main “pain points” dealing with interviews?

What advice would be most helpful to you?
And we always assume that you are asking for a friend!

Get in touch. We’ll address your questions and concerns in an upcoming blog post.




I'm Here to Answer Your Questions

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P.S. May I ask a tiny favour? Would you mind sharing this blog with one person? I would love it. You can post the links in your Facebook Groups, LinkedIn or even send an email.

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