The purpose of a job interview is to help the employer to become better acquainted with you, but is also for you to learn more about the organization and the position. Of course, because we will recommend you for interviews with nonprofit organizations, we also believe it is particularly important that you understand and connect with the employer’s purpose and mission.
Here are some quick interview tips for preparing for your nonprofit interview:
Check out the organization’s website. Read up on their mission, constituencies (who they serve) and their services. You should know their buzzwords, areas they are looking to grow/improve, their values, their mission and anything else that you can find out ahead of time.
You want to make a professional impression. While many nonprofit organizations promote a business casual work environment, we encourage you to “take it up a notch” on your first meeting. Business attire is always safe.
Employers want people who want to work for them. Show that you are enthusiastic about their mission, values, culture and everything else you know. Show your connection through good eye contact, a pleasant disposition, a firm handshake and your genuine interest in the position and what the organization is all about.
Ask open-ended questions, ones that elicit discussion and can’t be answered with a yes or a no. This will demonstrate your interest in and comprehension of what is being discussed during the interview. If you do not have questions, it appears that you do not care. There is no way that you could possibly know everything at your first interview. Ask questions to get useful information such as: What does a “typical day” look like in this position? What is your favorite aspect of working here? What has been the most challenging day you have experienced here?
You do not need to know everything, but you should be able to speak confidently about yourself. Be prepared to discuss your knowledge, skills and experience in detail. You should be prepared to answer open-ended questions such as: Tell me about yourself? Why are you looking for a new position? Why are you interested in our organization? What strengths would you bring to our team? Tie your responses to the position when possible.
NEVER COMPLAIN OR MAKE NEGATIVE/DISPARAGING COMMENTS ABOUT ANY PREVIOUS EMPLOYERS.
Do not discuss money or benefits, unless it is with the organization’s human resources professional. If salary does come up with a hiring manager, state that the opportunity is the most important factor. If the interviewer pins you down, give a salary range. If this is a temporary assignment, this question most likely will not be asked; however, be prepared if pressed for a response. (Please note that your search consultant will always provide you with salary range information before the interview, if it is available.)
Close the interview on a high note. Most nonprofits want to know that you have some sort of interest and/or connection with the cause in addition to having the skills and experience to perform well in the position. Reiterate your thanks for the interviewer’s time and your interest in who they are and what they do.
Are you searching for a career in the nonprofit sector? Check out our Open Searches and use these interview tips to land your nonprofit career.
© Copyright, Nonprofit HR Solutions, LLC, 2013