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Having candidates complete exercises similar to what they’d be doing on the job can give you a good idea of how they would perform if hired. This list of sample exercises tests for specific qualities.

PositionMust-haveSample Exercise
COOCritical thinking, writingObserve the organization in action (e.g., delivering a training session, staging a rally, holding a hearing, etc.) and propose recommendations for improvement in a 2-3 page memo.
Manager of programsStrategic thinkingRead and analyze a set of goals and objectives, and come up with recommendations to pursue.
Director of communicationsPublic speaking, judgmentRehearse a press conference or a call with a reporter about a controversial program we support.
Manager of a small- or medium-sized departmentGeneral management, staff supervisionSimulate giving positive and corrective feedback to a direct report. In the follow-up, ask them how they might approach this conversation if the candidate and their direct report were working across lines of difference and power.
Communications associateWriting, racial equity and inclusion competenceShare a newsletter or email blast and ask for their suggested edits, with at least 2 recommendations for ways to be more explicit about the organization’s commitment to racial justice.
Fundraising associatePersuasive communicationWrite a brief funding proposal or cover letter to a donor.
Special events associateOrganization / project managementDevelop a project plan for an annual conference.
Director of policy and advocacyStrategic thinking, interpersonal skillsSit in on a meeting with a potential partner organization. Afterwards, give feedback including a recommendation on whether and how to engage with them.
Senior associate for policy and advocacyAbility to explain complex ideas in a simple wayProduce a visual outlining key players in the healthcare industry and the relationships among them.
Research associateStrategic thinking, writingWrite a memo on how a specific change in legislation might affect state support for low-income families.
TrainerPresentation and teaching skillsMake a short presentation teaching a skill of your choice (e.g., how to write a grant, how to create a work plan, how to plan a conference, etc.).
Executive assistantFast-paced, attention to detailComplete 15-minute scheduling exercise involving multiple meeting requests.

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