The “IT” Factor

It seems that I am developing a theme when it comes to blog entries.  People…interviewing, screening, scheduling, serving, helping, PEOPLE.  This week at Maple Grove Hospital we are bringing on more people, more volunteers, to assist in summer only positions.  These volunteers, of course, went through the due process that any volunteer would.  However, this group stands out in my mind as they are the first ever junior volunteer only group that we have processed.  These students are interested in summer positions and will help bridge the gap over the summer months when the student groups that we work with through Osseo school district and Hennepin Technical College are on vacation.

After interviewing 30 volunteer applicants I began to wonder, “What is “IT” about these volunteers that make me want to bring them into our program?”  I think this is a critical question for all volunteer coordinators, managers, directors, etc.  What about an applicant makes you think, “Yes…I need this person in my program!”?

Here is a list of the qualities, among many, that stand out to me during the interview process that leads to my stamp of approval…

Are they are on time, prepared and presentable?

If an individual (junior or adult) can not make it to their interview on time, do not have the necessary paperwork, and are not dressed in business casual attire it leads me to wonder how they will perform as a regularly scheduled volunteer.  Will they be on time for their shift?  Will they know their role and be capable of performing it?  Will they complete necessary paperwork in the future, in a timely manner?  Will they be a positive representation of volunteer services throughout the hospital?  Will they be professional and adhere to dress code standards?

Are they articulate, enthusiastic and easy to talk to?

As I interact with applicants I try to look at my experience with them through the lenses of a guest or patient.  Would I trust them to give me directions in the hospital?  Would I, as a staff person in another department, be proud to have them on my team?  Also, would the volunteer be able to “fend for themselves” as it were?  Would they be comfortable asking questions and speaking up when something is wrong?  They don’t have to be extroverted and loud in order to have these abilities.  But they need to be comfortable and confident in their own skin.

Do they identify with our organizational values, or do they have values of their own?

Our organizational values of respect, accountability, communication, teamwork and pride are crucial to our success as a hospital and emphasized during our orientation and interview process.  When asked what values are important to them, many people are hard pressed to come up with one or two values.  Many have never thought about this question.  Some don’t know what values are.  But when an applicant can not only name values that are important to them, but can name them with conviction, I take that as a sign that they not only “get” our values but will be able to uphold them in their role as a volunteer.

I’d love to hear what qualities help you identify volunteers that have the “IT” factor for your organization.  While there are very tangible questions (Can they stand for a four hour shift?  Are they a people person?  Are they interested in a front of the house or back of the house role?  Do they have a specific schedule in mind?)  to answer, the unspoken questions are just as important.  Are there questions that you ask yourself when determining whether or not an individual is the right fit for your organization?  Please share!

Jennifer Nelson, Volunteer Services Coordinator

Maple Grove Hospital

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