You would normally include some kind of informal, yet structured interview as part of a volunteer recruitment process.
An informal interview is a two way process. Prospective volunteers will be making judgements about whether they want to give their time to your organisation. You need to make a good impression on them, as well as finding out if they are well suited to the opportunities on offer. Here are some tips.
1. Create a warm welcome and set the scene – introductions, explain or remind about purpose of interview, explain the format and how long it will last, if note-taking explain what and why.
2. Impart any information required e.g. about the role, requirements, commitment, timing.
3. Offer an opportunity for the volunteer to tell you why they are interested in this role, and in your organisation.
4. Ask a standard set of questions designed to find out about the volunteer’s skills, experience and qualities which are set out in the volunteer specification. We would suggest designing a maximum of four standard questions. Depending on what response you receive to your initial questions, you may need to follow up with additional questions in order to ensure you have all the information you need to make a fair decision.
5. Invite the volunteer to ask questions, and make sure you use an open phrase such as “What questions do you have for us?” (rather than a closed question like “Do you have any questions?”)
6. Check availability and eligibility to volunteer.
7. Explain what will happen next – when and how you will be in contact.
If you are unable to accept a potential volunteer after an informal interview, then it is only fair to give them feedback (sensitively of course) and be open and transparent about the reasons why. It can also be a good idea to refer any unsuccessful applicants to other opportunities, if appropriate. Your local volunteer centre is an excellent starting point, and if you are aware of specific and suitable opportunities in other organisations you could suggest those too.