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Hypothetical Interview Questions for a Development Executive Assistant

by Betsy Alton, studioD

A development executive assistant works closely with executives on a variety of fundraising, administrative, and personal tasks. During an interview for this position, interviewers explore previous administrative experience, fundraising and development knowledge, and work style fit with the hiring executive. An interview for a development executive assistant position typically lasts less than an hour and focuses on three or four main areas.

Administrative Experience

A development executive assistant is a senior administrative position. It's important to ask questions that help determine qualifications for managing the complex processes related to fundraising and development. Areas to focus on include the responsibilities of specific positions, whom they supported and what areas of operations and administration were their responsibility. Specific questions to ask include "Please discuss how you would approach a complex project to organize years of development records and files?" and "What process would you use to identify a software system to help your executive better manage fundraising contacts and lists?"

Executive Support

In addition to general administrative experience, a candidate for this position should have direct experience working for an executive. General administrative positions often have different requirements than executive assistant positions. Interviewers should determine if a candidate has experience working one-on-one with a development executive, managing calendars, overseeing communications and doing special projects. Hypothetical questions to further explore this area include "How would you communicate with this executive on a daily basis to help her focus on top priorities related to fundraising and development?" and "What are the biggest lessons that you've learned working directly with executives that will help you succeed in this role? Focus specifically on those skills that would help you support a development executive with significant fundraising responsibilities, frequent meetings, and financial goals to hit each year."

Fundraising and Development

A development executive assistant is likely to be deeply involved in the fundraising and development process. A knowledge of areas such as specialized development software, managing communications and outreach to donors and working with donors to acknowledge donations is very helpful. Interviewers can ask pointed hypothetical questions to gauge knowledge in this area such as "How would you design a process to track and acknowledge donations throughout the year?" and "Can you describe the organizational and administrative priorities of a fundraising staff throughout the year?"

General Work Style

An assistant to a senior development executive is likely to face difficult experiences, including competing deadlines, donor inquiries and decisions about sharing sensitive information. The best candidate will be able to speak to these points, based on their previous experience and in response to hypothetical questions. Some sample interview questions to ask include "Can you share an instance where you dealt with a difficult donor and how you resolved the problem you were facing?" and "How would you handle an instance of a colleague requesting financial or fundraising information that you suspected might be confidential, if you weren't able to immediately reach your supervisor?"

About the Author

Betsy Alton is an experienced writer who covers business, career, finance and technology trends for B2B markets and consumers. Prior to becoming a writer, she worked in economics and philanthropy. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and an MBA.

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