Hiring mistakes can cause a number of issues for your mission-driven nonprofit and even cost you thousands of dollars in the long run. Improving the foundational aspects of your hiring process is imperative to ensuring long-term success. Having an in-depth, modern, and highly competitive hiring process in place has never been more important.

Step 1: Develop a Strategic Plan for the Hiring Process From Start to Finish

The hiring process is complicated and multi-faceted, and involves everything from budgeting to marketing. Specific aspects of the hiring process that should be determined in advance include details about the search committee; the position’s specific role and needed skills; salary and benefits; and timeline (most nonprofit hiring processes last between 45 days and 3 months).

Step 2: Ensure a Quality Candidate Pool

People look for new jobs for three main reasons: money, career development, and organization culture. Develop a compelling job description and title that accurately reflect the demands of the position while highlighting the aspects of the opportunity that best reflect those three reasons. The job listing should clearly list a salary range and benefits, and your application process should be simple and clear. Post the opening on major job sites like LinkedIn and Indeed, as well as on nonprofit-focused sites like Idealist. There is no harm in directly contacting your dream candidates and asking them to apply. 

Step 3: Nail the Interview Process

The best hires are made—or missed—based on a strong interview process. Know which members of your team will be involved and what their specific roles are. Throughout the interview process, communicate clearly with all candidates in a timely manner. When developing questions, make it your goal to find someone who can demonstrate with their answers a history of passion for your mission, a long-term fit for your organization, and a cultural fit for your team. It’s also a good idea to test your candidates on the hard skills they’ll need for the position—for example, procure a writing sample from a communications candidate. 

Step 4: Choose the Right Candidate

Based on your interviews, discuss the top candidates with your search committee to determine who is the best fit and rank the follow-ups in case your first choice doesn’t work out. Express your interest to your top candidates early. If you make them wait too long they may move on. When you’re zeroing in on your decision, check their references to confirm that your team’s thoughts match up with the candidate’s previous employers’ and colleagues’ opinions. When you’re ready to make an offer, be prepared to negotiate salary and benefits with a specific range in mind.

The hiring process can be stressful, and the decision is obviously consequential for the future of your nonprofit. Following our tips will help you make the right decision.