How we recruited a Movement Builder
Chayn has always put movement building at the heart of our work but we just never had the capacity to deliver on those ambitions and values. There’s never enough time for me to prioritise follow up, while I’m grappling with fundraising, organisational management, outreach and content creation. Our Executive Team (made of rotating volunteers on a 4 month cycle) are busy with community management.
When we got funding to increase our impact and capacity to deepen our relationships, we knew we wanted to hire a Movement Builder. I began researching for job descriptions and interview processes by posting in activist lists, nonprofit groups and searching on job boards. I found a few but they were brief and given the importance of this senior role — we wanted to choose carefully.
I’m not sure we got it completely right. The process was intense. There were far too many questions and we expected people to have prepared. We made a lot of effort to make the interviews feel warm, inviting and relaxed too (is that even possible for an interview?).
We asked the finalists about their thoughts on the interview process and here are some paraphrased notes about it:
- Overall: You put a lot of effort into making me feel comfortable. It was a speedy interview process — positive but also intense especially while preparing for this while juggling with a job nd other responsibilities . The interview process was a nice indication of the pace of work and like a mini induction as I got to meet many members of the team. It was helpful to have interview slots outside of working hours.
- Rapid fire: Rapid fire questions were tense — but good to have a challenge.
- Task: Task was interesting and helped to get idea of your work. Fun to think through the approach to a task in this role
The recruitement process had three stages and was completed within three weeks after the application deadline:
- Job application with CV, cover letter and an example of work.
- First stage — a one hour interview with 2–3 members of the team.
- Second stage — a one hour interview with 4–5 members of the team where they were asked to present a task and answer further questions.
Below, I share the process and questions we asked. Hope it is helpful.
It tooke me a whole day to write the job description and various trustees and team members edited it once I was done. We had lovely feedback about the job description. It’s long, and detailed. You can read it here.
We covered the following aspects:
- Logistics: salary, reporting structure, days, holiday and pension entitlement
- Background on Chayn
- Our stakeholders
- Team structure
- The profile we’re looking for
- Job role
- Our inclusion practise
- How to apply
Candidates were asked to send:
- CV (no more than 2 pages). This was to understand their background, and the kind of organisations they had worked and volunteered at.
- Cover letter outlining why they are interested in this work, relevant experience and their approach to the work. This was also asked to be no longer than two pages. This told us why they cared about Chayn’s mission, what excited them about this role and how they were a match for us.
- An example of a campaign, report or blog they had written. This was to get a feel for how they write, and their approach to explaining intersecting concepts or campaigning.
Interview — first stage
We invited four candidates to the interviews. We had an hour reserved for these discussions with an ideal time of 50 mins so we could do a quick de-brief amongst the interviewers.
We had so many questions we wanted to ask and there wasn’t enough time so we had to get crafty with the format. This resulted in a more intense-than-usual interview but given the role, we felt the candidates should be able to deal with it.
The interview was divided into many sections that matched aspects of the role. Each section had two kinds of questions:
- Open: The candidate had the choice of how much to say.
- Rapid-fire: We wanted short, quick answers that took less than 30 seconds. With these, we wanted to test candidats ability to think on their feet, and the way they summarised their reflections.
Sometimes we found candidates answered open questions at so much length that we would cut similar questions that would be coming up, or moved them to the rapid fire round to save time. The rapid fire rounds did come as a surprise to most candidates. We felt like we got really interesting answers but we noted that most candidates felt unsure of how they did in that aspect.
Below is our script for the interview.
Check-in (5 mins)
- We welcome the candidate and explain how the process would run.
- Everyone introduces themselves.
- We understand interviews can be unnerving or not so please feel free to let us know if you feel nervous or confident. We look at the application as a whole, and don’t solely rely on interviews. You can stop at any time to ask us a question and don’t have to wait till the end.
- We’re going to be taking notes as we speak.
Background and motivation (5 mins)
We loved your application and cover letter. We’re going to ask you a few questions about what made you apply.
- Can you tell us about your background? What do you think you are suitable for this role? Why did you apply to this role?
- What do you think, would be challenging in this role for you?
Role Specific Questions (20 mins)
Strategy development and delivery
- In your experience, from either implementation or observation — what are the ways movements grow, shift power, and create change? And all of this in — especially with limited resources.
- What role does imagination play in strategic thinking and planning? What steps would you take to create and implement Chayn’s strategy? What would it look and feel like?
- Chayn is a global network. How can we organize on local (where volunteers are), regional (where our partners and users are), national (UK and where our chapters), and international levels?
- How would you identify movement-building opportunities?
- Who does Chayn partner with right now, and who could we partner with (if we don’t)?
- How would you inform partners about upcoming projects or releases?
- What could Chayn bring to a partnership? What do we have to offer?
Community building and storytelling
- What’s the most powerful form of storytelling you’ve come cross? It could be a campaign, a project or a physical space. What made it powerful?
- Tell us about the communities you consider yourself to be a part of and active in? Why do these matter to you?
- What underpins inclusive and progressive communication? Are there any tools or communities you seek inspiration and guidance from?
- Talk to us about your experience of using digital campaigning techniques. We want to know where their power and limitations lie.
- Keeping in mind that our work reaches people across the world, what techniques would make someone in our community feel like Chayn is talking to them?
- From your reading of what Chayn does and this role, what aspects of safeguarding would be important?
Policy and advocacy
- Tell us about a time you changed your mind on a topic because of something you read, heard or saw. Tell us why.
- Can you give us an example of a successful campaign you ran?
Approach to work (15 mins)
We all have our methods of managing our workload and how we approach problems. These questions are so we can understand yours!
- Tell a story about your life where you have used creativity when things were not going to plan!
- Co-production and creating space and encouragement for volunteers to take their ideas forward is a core part of our culture. Can you share examples from work or volunteering?
- This is a leadership role. Being a small team, we need an initiative taker who likes working with others but is someone who can lead tasks on their own. Can you give us examples on how this fits with your past experience or aptitude?
- Chayn believes in responsible and radical transparency. We work in the open and like sharing how we do things, knowing we may get things wrong and want to be responsive to learning from others. What do you think about this approach?
- How do you keep track of your work?
- How comfortable are you in doing public speaking, workshop facilitation, and challenging one-on-one conversations?
- How do you motivate others?
- What’s you on a bad day?
- What would your closest professional ally say about you?
- What would your toughest professional detractor say about you?
Logistics and work ethic (5 mins)
These last set of questions are about our values and the way we work. We want to make sure this is a good fit for you and us.
- Chayn has a particular way of working as it is a volunteer-run organisation. Our team works on Sundays and evenings as people are in different parts of the world. Our emails can come out of hours. Though your project would not involve a lot of daily coordination with the volunteer community but you would be expected to engage and manage many volunteers, we wanted to discuss if you have experience working in this way or it would bring up any concerns for you.
- What motivates you? What environments do you thrive in? How do you like to be managed?
- We work online all the time. How do you keep yourself motivated within this environment?
- This is a one year role, and we’re hoping to get it extended. Does it throw up any issues for you?
- Chayn believes strongly in being an inclusive organisation and adopts working practises from around the world. We are trans-inclusive, champion voices of people of colour and participatory. What are your reflections on this?
Check out (5 mins)
- Do you have any questions for us?
Interview —final stage
We invited two candidaets to the final stage. It was hard to come up with the top two as most candidates offered a different kind of approach and moving insights into movement building. Once we found our top 2, we invited them to complete a task, which you can see below. We sent them a successful proposal we had won for a research grant with a partner organisation we had never worked with before. They had half a week to prepare this.
They sent their proposals the day before their interviews. Since this role was so important we got a number of interviewers involved from trustees to volunteers and staff members. We had 4–5 interviewers for this stage. We wanted everyone’s perspective in helping us select the right candidate but also wanted them to get a feel for what it was like working with Chayn. It’s full on!
We all divided what questions we were going to ask and took turns to take notes too. Everyone had read through the submitted documents and was asked to put down their observations and any questions they had around the task on the interview Google document.
You’ll find the script for our interview below.
Check-in (7 mins)
- Introduce everyone on the call.
- Ask for reflections of the interview process so far and any surprises or change in perspective about the role or Chayn since then.
- Is there anything you want to ask us after our last discussion that you thought of afterwards or forgot to mention?
Task (25 mins)
Ask to present the task (20 mins)
We might ask you questions as you’re going through it.
This part was their chance to show us how they thought through the proposal, and considered different aspects. They could ask us questions throughout to clarify unknowns and we probed them on certain aspects. We wanted it to be a discussion rather than a test. Could we imagine working with this person? What would their approach add to our team? How could we complement each other?
While this discussion was happening, we encouraged interviewers to take notes on their observatione in our shared Google document.
Post-task questions (25 mins)
- What do you value in your work relationships?
- If tomorrow was your first day on the job, what would be your expectation from the week?
- If hired, how would you want to grow within the organisation? How do you think you’d do it?
- How would you keep track of significant policy changes happening globally pertinent to Chayn’s work?
- A new law is being debated in India. We want to respond and share our opinion. You’ve only found about it today and the deadline for response is tomorrow. What would you do?
- What baseline data would you collect to identify the success of your movement building activities?
- What is movement building outside of campaigning?
- What would bore you or disappoint you if you got this job and it didn’t turn out to be what you thought?
- What kind of a leader are you and want to be?
- How comfortable are you in traveling (safety permitting) to represent Chayn?
Check out (5 mins)
- Do you have any questions for us?
- How long is your notice period?
- Thank you for your time, and all the energy and heart you brought to this intense process. We really appreciate you wanting to work with us and that you shared your insights with us.