Prior to the InterviewYou’ll want to assess the current state of your organization’s prospect research before any candidates walk through the door. Think through the following questions:
- Do you already have a system of prospect research in place?
- Will the new staffer be establishing a new system?
- Who will the researcher be working with?
- What tools will you provide to aid the position (i.e., services from a prospect screening company, like DonorSearch)?
Creating a Prospect Researcher Qualities “Wish List”These preferences will vary depending on your answers to the above questions, but, in general, contenders for the job should be:
- Researchers first and foremost (if this is an entry-level position, look for evidence of research skills in academia).
- Inquisitive and willing to chase down donor data.
- Proficient with databases.
- Effective oral and written communicators.
- Comfortable multi-tasking.
- Able to work independently and as part of a team.
- Understand the inner-workings of fundraising.
- Discreet and capable of handling confidential and personal information.
The InterviewFor the purposes of this discussion we’ll be breaking our recommended interview questions into three categories:
- Place in the Team
- Prospect Research
#1: GeneralEvery good interviewer needs to do a basic personality and general assessment of the interviewee. These are what we’d consider the universal questions slightly skewed to nonprofits.
- What appeals to you about the role?
- What is your understanding of the position?
- Why do you want to work for a nonprofit?
- How would you explain our mission to a potential donor?
- Where do you see yourself in a year, three years, five years, etc.?
- Who is your professional role model?
- What nonprofit, besides this one, do you think has an impressive fundraising model?
- Tell us about a time when a professional project went badly and how you handled it.
- How would you handle a disagreement with your supervisor?
#2: Place in the TeamWhoever you hire is going to be working closely with your entire development staff. The new staff member might have other prospect researchers to work with or have to coordinate with communications staff. A successful nonprofit runs like an engine, multiple parts working side by side, fulfilling a common goal. A prospect researcher can’t simply be database bound, head in a computer all day. Researchers have to have good chemistry with your team. You’ll need to dedicate a line of questions towards this, such as:
- Tell us about a time when you had a bad experience working with a team.
- Tell us about a time when you had a great experience working with a team.
- How do you balance the needs of multiple people?
- Would you consider yourself someone who is better as a team member or team leader?
- How do you prioritize your own tasks and tasks others need assistance with?
#3: Prospect ResearchThese questions are the main course of the interview. You’ll be asking somewhat different questions of those applying to an entry-level versus a higher-level position, but in the end you’re looking for similar qualities and skills. A) Entry-Level Position
- What is your understanding of the position and the role you would play as an employee?
- What past experiences have you had with fundraising?
- What drew you to prospect research?
- How do you usually perform research, say, for an academic paper?
- How would you handle prioritizing two important tasks?
- Do you consider yourself more of a data-driven and detail-oriented or a big picture researcher and analyst?
- Tell us about one success and one failure you’ve had in the past regarding prospect research.
- What resources do you typically use to perform prospect research?
- Are you comfortable working in a predetermined system and methodology, or do you have your own established process that you like to stick to?
- Do you expect to work in a team or individual environment?
- What is your formula for identifying a top donor prospect?
- What do you consider to be the most telling details you can discover about a prospect?