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May 1, 2018

How to win over the perfect candidate

All too often, in a competitive market, our clients can miss out on the best candidates. In our latest blog, Anna Ludeman offers some tips when interviewing candidates.

Interviewing for your team: How to win over that perfect candidate

We work really hard to find talented fundraisers for our clients and spend a lot of time coaching candidates on their interview style. We would love to go that one step further and help you to secure that dream candidate for your organisation. We hope that this interview guide will help.

Interviewing can be a scary prospect. Not only from a candidates point of view, but from a hiring manager's too! It can be tough to know what questions to ask, and how to ask them. You're keen to assess whether the person you're meeting has the skills and experience to successfully undertake a role. But you're also engaging them and making sure your charity stands out as an amazing place to work.

It is a candidate-led market, especially in the world of fundraising. Great candidates will be speaking to a number of different charities at any one time. Candidates are taking their time to ensure that the next move is the right move for them. Culture, team fit and career development play a huge part when accepting a new role.

First impressions

We all know first impressions count, but when it comes to looking for a new job, it is of huge importance. When a candidate walks through the door, they might be nervous and apprehensive and you can do a lot to ease their nerves and get the best out of them.

Ensure the interview starts on time, so the candidate isn't left in reception worrying for too long! Being smiley and welcoming can help a candidate relax straight away. Offer them a drink of water and tell them what the next hour or so will entail.

If you are walking the candidate through the office, be chatty and let them know about the office and the team, so they can see what a lovely working environment you have.

Selling you

Everyone knows how important it is that a candidate sells themselves at interview but what about the interviewers? Remember, it is a candidate-led market out there and many candidates are interviewing for a number of different roles at any one time.

They have probably been inundated with roles from recruitment agencies, all of which are exciting and unique in their own right. What makes your organisation stand out and why should they work for you?

Make sure you talk through what the role entails, so that the candidate knows exactly what their day to day role will be. Talk through any career development opportunities that the organisation offers and what the working culture is like. This includes social gatherings, as well as benefits and incentives. Be personable and tell candidates what you love about working there.

All of this will contribute to a candidate leaving the interview excited about the prospect of working with you and for your wonderful organisation.


As mentioned above, there will be lots of other charities who will be interested in meeting the same candidates. It is your job to sell your cause, your benefits and flexible way of working to encourage candidates to choose to work for you, over other teams in the sector.

Interview format

A candidate's time is very precious (as is yours!), especially if they are interviewing for a number of different roles and are having to take time out of work. Try to be as accommodating as you can around interview times and give as much notice as possible.

Telephone or Skype interviews are a great way of conducting first stage interviews, as you can quickly decide whether the candidate has the right level of experience you require. You can then invite them for a more formal face-to-face interview at second stage. At second interview stage, it is great if candidates can say a quick "Hi" to the team, so they can get a good feel for what it would be like working there.

Interview fatigue

This can be a real issue for many clients, having conducted lots of interviews on the same day and feeling very tired and disengaged with the process. A candidate can feel this fatigue from the moment they sit down to interview and this doesn't leave them with the best impression.

Even if you know within the first five minutes that this candidate is not the right fit for the team, ensure that they still enjoy the process of meeting with you and they leave feeling upbeat and excited about the opportunity. Candidates will have spent a lot of time, money and effort in preparing to meet with you so ensure you give them the time and attention that they deserve.

People talk

The fundraising world is a small one and if a candidate has a bad experience interviewing somewhere, they'll tell their friends and colleagues all about it! Ensure every candidate leaves an interview wanting to work for you and excited about this wonderful opportunity. They may not be right for this particular role but they might work for you in the future and you want them to tell their friends what a lovely charity and team you are.


Feedback is so, so important and incredibly vital for any candidate that you meet. After all their time preparing for an interview and taking the time to meet you, it is important that you give candidates detailed feedback as soon as you possibly can, preferably within the first few days of meeting them.

An automated response should never be sent to a candidate who has taken the time out to meet with you. Feedback should be positive, constructive and detailed and will be invaluable to those actively looking for a new role.


Strong candidates are in demand and if you want to secure someone fabulous for your team, you'll need to act quickly! Waiting a few days to make a decision might cost you that wonderful candidate so make sure you make an offer as soon as you can.

We hope this little guide has been helpful, as we know interviewing candidates can be a daunting process. Just remember that candidates are interviewing you as much as you are interviewing them so always make sure they leave feeling excited, passionate and enthusiastic after meeting with you and the team.

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