Skip to Content


The Top Four Challenges Organizations Face When Screening Volunteers and Staff

A seemingly endless stream of frightening news reports shows that even the most well-respected organizations are not immune from employees that pose a danger to vulnerable populations. Ongoing issues have been uncovered in a number of organizations that once enjoyed flawless reputations.

Praesidium has seen the same four challenges crop up again and again in organizations.

1.  Pace of Hiring

Chances are, your staff members are already working at 100 percent capacity. In many cases, employees at non-profits find themselves single-handedly filling multiple roles. In this environment, there is a lot of pressure to fill vacancies quickly.

When hiring moves at a rapid pace, it is tempting to take shortcuts, for example skipping stages in the process. However, such shortcuts can have devastating consequences. Instead, take a step back and look at the situation from a strategic perspective. Slowing the pace of the hiring process reduced risk for the people you serve.

2.  Information Silos

With staff putting in extra effort to cover the responsibilities of a vacant position, it can be easy to get out of the habit of sharing thoughts and ideas. People are just too busy to exchange detailed feedback, and critical information becomes siloed.

This tendency is exacerbated when the hiring process moves too quickly, especially when multiple staff members are involved. For example, sometimes one person reviews applications while another interviews and a third examines screening results. Each of these steps can raise yellow flags – relatively minor issues that would not necessarily eliminate a candidate. However, because information is siloed, no one has a complete picture. There is no way of knowing whether there are enough yellow flags to constitute a red flag.

Make it a point to include a step in your process that breaks down information silos. Gather everyone for a debriefing session to compile application data, then encourage discussion.

3.  Failure to Solicit Input and Perspectives

The employees and volunteers you have in place today are a wealth of skills and experience. Unfortunately, those making hiring decisions often miss opportunities to leverage these abilities, because they fail to solicit input and perspectives from others.

Instead of a solo approach to the hiring process, take on the project with a partner. Each of you may pick up on something that didn’t register with the other. Better still, connect with other staff members who have informal contact with candidates. Impressions from these interactions can be invaluable in your decision to hire.

4.  Fear of Discouraging Volunteer Participation

The unpaid services of volunteers can mean the difference between success and failure for some organizations. This puts volunteer managers in a difficult position. While safety is still a top priority, no one wants to risk losing high-quality candidates because there are too many barriers.

It may be that your volunteers have limited access to vulnerable populations, so your hiring procedures can be revised a bit. However, your processes should be consistent within the same role, based on the responsibilities of the position. Keep in mind that once you have determined your process is appropriate for your organization and your population, the possibility of losing volunteers must not supersede safety concerns. Instead, consider that candidates who are uncomfortable with the hiring process may not be the right fit for your program.

Download our quick reference guide on the four challenges to share with your team.