The heart of success in any nonprofit organization is the people skills it’s employees exhibit. After all, it takes empathy, adaptability, communication, collaboration, leadership and a deep desire and commitment to serve communities in need to truly make a meaningful impact within the realm of nonprofit work. While resumes showcase qualifications and experiences, it’s the softer, intangible attributes that can truly differentiate exceptional candidates within the nonprofit sector.
People skills, also known as “soft skills,” or “interpersonal skills” are a set of traits that allow us to effectively interact with one another. While people skills can be challenging to measure, it is not impossible to gain a glimpse into how that person may fair in their interactions with teammates. So, what are some of the most important people skills to have and how can they be assessed in the hiring process?
The Essence of Empathy
In the world of nonprofits, empathy is an absolute necessity. It's not merely about understanding the needs of the communities served, it's about embodying compassion, connecting deeply with individuals, and recognizing the human stories behind every initiative. Candidates who exhibit genuine empathy bring a unique ability to comprehend diverse perspectives, nurture relationships, and drive change rooted in understanding rather than assumption.
Evaluating a candidate’s ability to be empathetic can be done by asking behavioral questions. Ask candidates to describe scenarios where they had to understand and respond to others' emotions or needs. For instance, "Can you share an experience where you had to put yourself in someone else's shoes to resolve a conflict?" Candidates with a history of volunteering or community involvement often have experiences demonstrating empathy. Ask them to elaborate on these experiences and how they impacted their understanding of others' needs.
Nonprofit landscapes are ever-evolving, often navigating through unforeseen challenges and dynamic environments. The ability to adapt is not just a skill; it's a necessity. Can they pivot strategies, embrace change, and lead in the face of uncertainty? They are the ones who can navigate ambiguity with resilience, turning obstacles into opportunities for growth and impact.
Some of the ways you can assess a candidates ability to thrive in ambiguity and adapts are by encouraging candidates to share stories where they successfully adapted to new environment, technology, or methodology. Ask them to explain how they manage transition and uncertainties. Look for indications of adaptability in their career path, such as changing roles, industries, or taking on diverse responsibilities. Candidates who have shown flexibility in their career trajectories will often possess adaptability.
Communication as a Bridge
Effective communication is the backbone of every successful nonprofit endeavor. It's more than just verbalizing a mission; it's about active listening, fostering collaboration, and articulating visions with clarity. Candidates who excel in communication can cultivate environments where ideas flourish, conflicts find resolution, and stakeholders feel heard and valued.
Here are some methods to assess communication skills: Ask open-ended questions that require detailed responses. Assess how candidates structure their answers, their clarity, and their ability to convey complex information concisely. Observe candidates' listening skills during the interview. A candidate who actively listens to questions, pauses to consider before responding, and references previous discussions demonstrates strong communication. Pay attention to non-verbal cues such as eye contact, body language, and facial expressions. Candidates who maintain eye contact, exhibit confident body language, and express themselves clearly often have strong communication skills.
Technical skills and qualification are important things to exam to ensure fitness for a role, it’s the soft skills that make up the soul of the a nonprofit workforce. Building a team rich in empathy, adaptability, and communication ensures that organizations ability to make profound impact with drive and purpose.
Lion Heart Recruit believes in the power of these soft skills to transform nonprofits. Our approach to recruitment prioritizes not just resumes but the holistic qualities that drive impactful change within organizations. Let’s work together in fostering a workforce that embodies the spirit of empathy, thrives in adaptability, and communicates with purpose.