Job Interview Homework Assignments

March 6, 2020

Job Interviews are hugely stressful events — both for the interviewee and the interviewer. This is probably one of my least favorite tasks as a manager because it is so hard to put aside any preconceived notions I may have about the individual and concentrate fully on their responses. That’s why I like homework assignments.

There are always the standard array of questions that we pepper the interviewee with. In addition, there are situational questions. These may or may not have a ‘correct’ answer, but the interviewer is looking at how they answer the questions. For instance:

  • Which charity do you admire? Why?
  • Tell me about a time when you went “above and beyond” the call of duty to get a job done
  • What is your worst nightmare project? How did it go wrong? What was your response? What did you learn from this?
  • If you could change one decision you made in the past 2 years, what would it be?
  • What aspects of fundraising are energizing for you? What aspects are less energizing?
  • Tell me about a situation where your work was criticized

Consequently, the resulting answers from these questions likely narrow the field down to two or three. (That being said, there is usually a front-runner in your mind.) So, for Phase II of the interview process, I always have the finalists answer a homework question (I usually give three or four days to complete).

Homework for a Direct Mail Position

The assignment is to create a Direct Mail appeal for us that focusses on the ABC campaign (a sub-campaign that is run annually). This task would (hopefully) accomplish a few things:

  • See if the finalist researches your organization and is able to pull pertinent data (your website, therefore should be accurate and up-to-date).
  • Test the finalist’s writing skills. Are there typos? Have they captured your organization’s tone?

For a Stewardship Position

Create a stewardship plan for donors that give to our organization through monthly gifts for a 12-month period. This would:

  • See if the finalist researches what is being done currently — again, your website needs to be a helpful tool
  • Test the finalist’s ability to create a thoughtful plan

Consequently, these tasks show the interviewer the finalist’s thought process. Are they planning something without regard for what has historically happened? Are they thinking outside of the box? Have they captured the tone of your organization?

Most importantly, all of these tasks in the homework assignments above have helped me to recruit and retain some of the best colleagues out there.

I hope this helps you.