Recruitment & Retention Toolkit: The Interview Process

In another recruitment and retention toolkit we talked about the "Prospective Member Guide" as an effective sales tool. Good documentation leads to a clear understanding of the opportunities, benefits and requirements associated with volunteering in your organization.

When the prospect moves beyond the inquiry stage and demonstrates a real interest in belonging, they fill out your fire department's standard application. Once the paperwork is complete, an interview can be scheduled with the membership committee, board of directors, officers or some other ad hoc committee as is the practice in your department.

Like the Prospective Member Guide, the interview can be an effective sales tool in "sealing the deal" with a potential new 'hire' for your organization. It's the last step before voting and is probably your last chance to provide, as stated in the first paragraph, 'a clear understanding of the opportunities, benefits and requirements associated with volunteering in your organization.'

While you want to avoid repeating the guide information word-for-word, the interview offers you the opportunity to verbalize the values of your organization. It allows you to emphasize the objectives of your team, the individual commitment required of the candidate and the benefits realized when the team meets those common objectives. And, it allows you to put a face to the voice or e-mail address you've been corresponding with.


The key to a successful interview is that it is completed consistently and professionally. I've sat in on my share of interviews over the years in both my paying and volunteer jobs, and from both sides of the table, and have often been frustrated by the inconsistencies in the interview process.

Creating a consistent process for the interview assures that the results are consistent. It ensures that the candidate is interviewed thoroughly and effectively. It leaves no stone unturned.

While the same questions are asked of each and every candidate, the resulting answers will certainly not always be the same. This can provide valuable feedback about your membership process, identify opportunities for change and set the stage for an open, honest and bi-directional communication with your membership. Especially if you ask questions like, "Can you suggest any improvements to the membership process or documentation?"

Oh yeah, and you can learn more about your prospect too!

After all, isn't that the purpose of the interview in the first place? In my fire company, we actually coach our candidates on the interview questions by listing them in our prospective member guide. Although we don't want canned answers, by doing so, we hope that the prospect will arrive better prepared for an effective interview.

We want them to give their answers some thought and have the time to do so. And we think it's the fairest method. Surprising them with essay type questions can make for some awkward moments in the interview. Besides