Job Interview Preparation

Though successful Development happens over years, and not months – we still see regular transitions from organization to organization.  If you are in a transitional period of your career – do as the Boy Scouts do, and Be Prepared.  Of course there are some obvious things to know when preparing for an interview with a nonprofit organization… Know the mission, history, website, etc.  A step beyond this basic preparation, may include a readiness to Ask intelligent questions.  By asking intelligent questions (and not questions you could find out from a quick Google search), you’ll not only impress the interviewer with your interest but also set yourself apart from the competition. Such questions may include:

  • Why is this position open? (Find out why the previous person left or if it’s a new role in a growing company)
  • What traits or experience would a person need to be successful in this role?
  • What are the top goals for the person you hire in this role?
  • What’s your management style (or the management style of the hiring manager)?
  • What would you change about… the company, culture, department, etc.?
  • What are the next steps in this process?

What questions would you add to this list?


About Gary Coiro

Nonprofit & Church Leader Nonprofit Leader and Consultant since 2004, following 15 years as a pastor. Competencies include board development, fundraising, staff development and management, strategic planning, church work, Bible teaching, and capital campaigns. Currently consulting and serving on the Church Ministries Management Team for a large multi-cultural evangelical church.
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5 Responses to Job Interview Preparation

  1. Heather says:

    All great questions. I would add… ” How do you (the hiring manager) define success?”

  2. Ayelet Myers says:

    Great questions.
    One could add:
    “Who are your natural competitors, and who are your partners or potential partners?”
    “Is there something that makes you unique in this field?”
    “How would you define your target audience/clients?”
    “What projects are you currently raising funds for? What future projects would you like to raise funds for?”

  3. Here are mistakes to avoid during an interview:

    Arriving late or too early – This will be the first impression you give the employer, so make sure you arrive to your interview on time. Look up the directions to the company the night before to determine the best route, how long the commute will take and when you need to leave in order to arrive on time, allowing some wiggle room in case there is traffic. Also avoid arriving more than 10 minutes early, so that your interviewer doesn’t feel rushed to meet you.

    Dressing inappropriately – Companies have different dress codes, but in general, plan to dress professionally and conservatively, unless you’re interviewing for a fashion job. You can also do a little research to find out what is acceptable dress for your industry, or give the company a call to ask the receptionist what people wear in the office.

    Answering your cell phone during the interview – This is one of the biggest mistakes you can make in an interview, and shows you have poor manners. Turn your cell phone off or to silent before your interview starts, or even better—before you walk in the door.

    Asking what the company does – By the time you’re interviewing with a company, you should not only know what the company does, but its products or services, competitors and other key information. Demonstrate your knowledge about the company and industry to show your enthusiasm, rather than “winging” it—which only showcases your lack of preparation.

    Bad-mouthing anyone or being negative – Even if you had a terrible manager or you disagreed with the direction of the company, do not speak negatively about your previous employer or anyone else. Your interviewer won’t want to hire someone who comes off as a complainer, and they might believe you’ll talk badly about them down the line as well.

    Asking about compensation/benefits – Wait for the interviewer to bring up the topics of pay and benefits. You want to prove that you’re the best candidate for the job before you start talking pay, to show that you’re genuinely interested in the position and company and not just the money.

    Lying – Never lie in an interview about your past experience or qualifications. The employer will find out eventually that you don’t know as much as you said you did, and chances are, won’t hesitate to let you go and bring someone in who actually can do the job.

    Not asking questions – An interview is a two-way street; you are interviewing the company as much as they are interviewing you. Ask good questions to determine whether this job or company is a good fit. And you don’t have to wait until the end of the interview to speak up—if you have a question in line with the conversation, ask it then.

    Being unable to articulate your achievements – As you prepare for your interview, think about how your past experience and achievements relate to the job you’re interviewing for. You will need to demonstrate how you are the best person for the job.

    By avoiding these mistakes, you’ll increase the chances of being asked in for a second interview. Good luck!

  4. Here are the 10 questions you’re most likely to be asked in a job interview:

    1. Tell me about yourself.

    2. What interests you about this opening? (Or why do you want to work for us?)

    3. What do you know about our company so far?

    4. Why did you leave your last job? (Or why are you thinking about leaving your current job?)

    5. Tell me about your experience at ___. (Fill in past job.)

    6. What experience do you have doing ____? (Fill in each of the major responsibilities of the job.)

    7. Tell me about your strengths.

    8. Tell me about a time when… (Fill in with situations relevant to the position. For instance: Tell me about when you had to take initiative … you had to deal with a difficult customer … you had to respond to a crisis … you had to give difficult feedback to an employee ….)

    9. What salary range are you looking for?

    10. What questions do you have for me?

  5. Ayelet Myers says:

    One more really challenging question that I faced this week – “What do you think is the greatest challenge facing ____________( fill in your field of work).”
    It was a great question and we had a good discussion, but I was totally not expecting that question and faltered at the start.

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