If you are planning to open a homeless shelter, it means that you will need some staff members to work with or for you. As a matter of fact, running a homeless shelter requires that you recruit employees from time to time. With that in mind, you should be prepared to get it right with hiring.
The truth is that getting it right with hiring staff for a homeless shelter starts with shortlisting the right candidates and also asking them the right questions.
Several roles are available in a homeless shelter, and some of the interview questions you will ask should be unique to such roles.
In this article, we will try to cover the general interview questions you should ask an aspiring employee in your homeless shelter before hiring them.
Best Interview Questions to Ask Homeless Shelter Staff
What motivated you to apply for a position at a homeless shelter?
A homeless shelter is not one of those places where anyone who is not compassionate or passionate about helping people can work. Besides, most homeless shelters don’t pay fantastic salaries hence it is your motive that can keep you on the job.
Can you describe your experience working with vulnerable populations, particularly the homeless?
The motive of the candidate is what should prompt this question. In order to evaluate their motive, you should ask them a follow-up question that bothers on them describing their experience as it relates to working with vulnerable populations.
How do you handle stressful situations and remain calm? Can you provide an example from your previous work?
The fact that working in a homeless shelter can be stressful means that anyone who wants to work in a homeless shelter should be able to handle stress. With this question, it will be easier for you to assess the candidate’s capacity to work under pressure.
What skills or qualities do you possess that make you well-suited for working in a homeless shelter?
As it is with all jobs, there are certain skill sets that are suitable for a homeless shelter, and any candidate who wants to work in a homeless shelter should possess them.
So asking a candidate who wants to work in a homeless shelter to state the skills and qualities they possess that make them well-suited for the role they are applying for will help you make an informed decision.
How do you approach building trust with individuals who may be hesitant or resistant to assistance?
In some cases, homeless people may be hesitant or resist anyone who wants to assist them. So any candidate who wants to work in a homeless shelter should be able to know how to gain the trust of strangers. This question is ideal for the front desk officer, or the coordinator of the homeless shelter.
Describe a time when you had to enforce rules or policies in a previous job. How did you handle it, and what was the outcome?
As stated earlier in this article, working in a homeless shelter requires discipline and tenacity. In essence, any candidate who will fit some key roles in a homeless shelter must be able to enforce the rules or policies of the homeless shelter.
Asking the candidate this question will give you an idea of how the candidate intends to enforce the rules and the policies of the homeless shelter.
In a shelter environment, conflicts can arise among residents. How would you mediate or address such conflicts?
When you gather different people and families from different backgrounds and even different cultures together, you cannot rule out confrontations and conflicts among them. In essence, any candidate who is suitable for a homeless shelter job should have conflict resolution skills.
How do you prioritize and manage your tasks in a fast-paced and dynamic environment like a homeless shelter?
When interviewing a candidate for a homeless shelter, you should ask questions that will help you identify a candidate who knows how to prioritize and manage tasks in a fast-paced and dynamic environment.
Can you share an example of a challenging situation you faced in a previous job and how you successfully overcame it?
If you want to get it right when hiring a candidate for a role in a homeless shelter, you should ask the candidate to share an example of a challenging situation they faced in a previous job and how they successfully overcame the situation.
Note that the challenging situation might not be related to a homeless shelter or the role you are interviewing the candidate for.
What strategies would you implement to ensure a safe and secure environment for both staff and residents?
Some homeless shelters, such as wet shelters, can be very hostile hence any candidate who aspires to work in such shelter should have the right skill set and experience.
As a matter of fact, you should not hire a manager or director who doesn’t have what it takes to ensure a safe and secure environment for both staff and residents.
How do you approach working with individuals who may have mental health challenges or substance abuse issues?
Most individuals with substance abuse issues are usually not admitted to traditional homeless shelters. They are only admitted to a wet shelter.
Wet shelters allow individuals with substance abuse issues to access shelter services even if they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and in most cases offer them a supervised space to use or consume them.
In essence, any candidate who wants to work in a wet shelter must have the right skill set and this question will help you make a decision whether to hire such candidate or not.
What steps would you take to promote a sense of community and support among shelter residents?
Beyond housing homeless people, the main aim of a homeless shelter is to make homeless people feel that they belong to a family unit.
Hence you should ask questions that bother on the ability of the candidate to promote a sense of community and support among shelter residents.
How do you handle confidentiality when dealing with sensitive information about shelter residents?
Note working in a homeless shelter will give you the opportunity to know the personal information of residents in the homeless shelter.
Hence you will need to ask questions that bother on how the candidate will handle confidentiality when dealing with sensitive information about the shelter residents.
Describe your understanding of trauma-informed care and how you would apply it in your role at the shelter
The fact that some homeless shelters accommodate people who are under trauma means that anyone who intends to work in such a shelter should be able to understand the concept of trauma-informed care.
One of the easiest ways you can know their capacity to handle traumatic situations is to ask them to describe their understanding of trauma-informed care, and how they will apply same in the shelter.
What is your approach to collaborating with other service providers and community resources to support shelter residents?
Generally, homeless shelters don’t work alone, they collaborate with other service providers and community resources to support the shelter residents.
In essence, anyone who wants to work in a homeless shelter should be asked questions that bother around suitable and workable collaborating strategy they are bringing to the table.
How do you stay informed about local resources and services available to homeless individuals?
From time to time, there are always local resources and services available to homeless shelters, and it is the responsibility of the management of the homeless shelter to tap into such resources and services. In essence, a candidate who wants to work in a homeless shelter as a manager should be informed at all times.
Can you give an example of a time when you had to adapt to a sudden change or crisis in a previous job?
All jobs come with their own fair share of challenges, and working in a homeless shelter is not exempted. For everyone who wants to work in a homeless shelter, they should be able to adapt to a sudden change crisis in the workplace
. When interviewing any candidate, make sure you ask them to share their experience or give an example of a time when they had to adapt to a sudden change or crisis in their previous job.
How would you address biases or stereotypes that may arise in a diverse and dynamic shelter environment?
Inclusivity is part of what must be enforced in a homeless shelter, and the fact that you cannot rule out biases or stereotypes in a homeless shelter means that anyone you are considering for a role in your homeless shelter should be able to address biases or stereotypes that may arise in a diverse and dynamic shelter environment.
What role do you believe education and skill-building play in helping individuals transition out of homelessness?
Everyone that works in a homeless shelter should be able to bring something to the table especially as it relates to education and skill acquisition.
In order to get an idea of the ideology of a candidate you are interviewing, you should ask them questions regarding their take on education and skill-building in helping individuals transition out of homelessness.
How do you take care of your own well-being to ensure you can effectively support others in challenging situations?
Lastly, working in a homeless shelter can be super energy draining hence anyone who works in a homeless shelter should have a coping system.
In essence, part of the question you must not fail to ask a candidate you are interviewing for a homeless shelter is to know how they intend to take care of their own well-being to ensure they can effectively support others in challenging situations.