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Job Interview Questions for a Director of Development

by Lisa McQuerrey

A director of development is a vital position for a nonprofit or charitable organization, heading up fundraising efforts to help support organizational programs. Interview questions will likely focus on previous experiences and work history, as well as delve into information on existing funding source contacts. You will likely be asked to provide referenes as well as letters of recommendation.

Work History

Work history questions will comprise a significant part of the interview, as a hiring manager wants to know the depth of your fundraising experience. In particular, you’ll be asked about the size of previous organizations you worked for, their funding needs and the kinds of funding you sought on their behalf. You might also be asked about the budgets you oversaw in past positions.

Funding Generation

In addition to the types of funding you're accustomed to generating, a hiring manager will want to know the dollar amounts you raised in previous roles. You will be asked to describe the sizes and scopes of grant awards, in-kind contributions and government funding you secured, and what organizational objectives the money was used for. If you have experience running a successful capital campaign, this will be vital information to mention as well.

Grant Writing

As a development director, you will be required to write and administer grants, or oversee a grant writer. Exceptional communication and skills of persuasion are required for this role, and you may be asked to show examples of grant proposals and narratives you penned yourself. Organization is also vital to the role, as grants must be strictly administered, so you might be asked questions about your time-management skills.

Board Experience

Working with a nonprofit often involves working with a board of directors or advisors. A development director has a high-profile position and is responsible for a significant amount of an organization's budget, and board interaction can sometimes be stressful. You might be asked behavioral-style questions in which you are asked to describe previous experiences working with a charitable board.

Presentation Skills

As a development director, you will be required to present funding proposals to boards, develop relationships with corporations and foundations, and be a good spokesperson for your organization. In addition to your qualifications, your personal style, mannerisms and speaking style will all be evaluated during the interview.

Charitable Contacts

Development directors who have established contacts with foundations are in high demand, so you might be asked to describe the extent of your personal network. A hiring manager wants to see that you already have proven fundraising sources you can use on behalf of their organization if you’re given the job.

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