Idea 14: Screen volunteers based on job requirements.

Screening refers to the procedures and processes used to evaluate people who apply for positions, both paid and unpaid. Its purpose is to choose the best candidates and exclude unsuitable candidates. Screening volunteers should be connected to and based on the job requirements. Developing a screening protocol helps insure consistent and equitable treatment of all applicants.

The screening protocol will be determined by the job requirements and screening tools may vary depending on the position. Screening tools include:

  • position descriptions,
  • pre-application devices that offer information about the position/organization and allow applicants to self-screen,
  • resumes and application forms,
  • interview(s),
  • reference checks,
  • qualifications checks,
  • police records checks,
  • driver’s record checks,
  • credit bureau checks,
  • performance assessments (e.g. demonstrate particular specific skills such as computer skills, typing speed),
  • orientation and training (may do training before accepting candidate),
  • probationary period.

Written consent from applicants should be received before screening takes place. Determine at the beginning who will pay the costs of screening. Any information collected is confidential, and candidates have the right to know the results. It is important to document the screening.

If you have a gut feeling that something is not right, pay attention to it. It is a reason to investigate further.

Voices from the field:

  • Create a simple yet effective process that screens, trains, places and supports the volunteers.
  • If I knew then what I know now, I would rely on my intuition more.
  • Resumes, interviews, reference checks, criminal record checks, identify skills and match them to the job, probationary period- as you would when hiring for a paid position. You don’t have to take everyone who walks through the door.
  • We do intake interviews with volunteers (and of course criminal record checks). This lets us get to know them and what they are looking for in the experience as well as what their strengths and skills are.

To learn more:

DaSilva, M. (2006). Safe enough? Reviewing your screening practices. Retrieved from
» A self-administered checklist to assist organizations with a screening performance review.

Graff, Linda L. (1999) Beyond the police checks: the definitive volunteer & employee screening guidebook. Dundas, ON: Linda Graff and Associates, 1999.
» Extensive practical information on screening. Includes numerous screening tools. Not intended to offer legal advice.

Public Safety Canada. (2008). Best practice guidelines for screening volunteers. Retrieved from

Volunteer Canada. (2012). Screening handbook. 2012 edition. Retrieved from

Volunteer Canada. (2012-.) Screening. Retrieved from
» This website outlines the benefits of screening and includes the 10 steps of screening process.

Last updated: November 12, 2015