Are You Prepared for Your Next Interview?
If you are in the nonprofit career path or considering going into the nonprofit career path, there is one thing you should know: You will have many interviews during your work career. According to a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median number of years that wage and salary workers have been with their current employer was 4.2 years in January 2016, down from 4.6 years from January 2014.
The report noted that median employee tenure was generally higher among older workers than younger workers. For example, workers between ages 55 and 64 had a median tenure of 10.1 years—three times longer than workers between the ages of 25 and 34 who had a median tenure of 2.8 years. I just finished my fifth year in my current position. In my long career with at least 10 employers, my current position is third in longest tenure. That said, you must learn to interview and interview well.
Be Prepared for the Interview
I recently spent a full day interviewing six candidates for a position on my staff. Like many seasoned professionals, I have interviewed hundreds of candidates in my career. I constantly shake my head at the fact that most of those individuals I have interviewed were poorly prepared. I am not talking about proper dress, timeliness of arrival, materials to share and other intangibles. I am talking about the fact that if I ask one simple question, I do not receive a comprehensive answer. That question is: What do you know about our organization?
In an article titled “Tough Interview Question—What do you know about Our Company?” various factors are pointed out. The interviewer is asking this question because they want to know if you have done your research about the company at a depth level. It is noted that you should know the employer well enough to give a succinct description of the company in 30 to 60 seconds. You should provide an example of the mission and services the organization provides. You should answer each question behaviorally based upon your background and experience. Use the S-T-A-R approach to make the answer a star. Talk about the situation, task, action and results achieved. You need to make the answer unique to you.
According to this article published in The Balance, the author notes that you must prepare in advance for the interview and question. The author encourages interviewees to research the company online, get a list of key alumni that work for the company, check the company’s LinkedIn page and website, and seek any connections with the company who can provide you with insight and advice.
The Forbes article titled “How to Answer: ‘What Do You Know About Our Company?’ points out lack of a proper answer to this question speaks volumes. A lot of jobseekers fail the “what-do-you-know-about-our-company” test. Your goal should be to answer this question by answering other questions. What sort of organization is this, what product or service does it provide and to whom, how large is their budget, etc. Learn as much as you can about the organization and your potential interviewer (LinkedIn—but do not connect with them). Be prepared with thought-out questions, and show that you have thoroughly prepared for the interview.
In this Job-Hunt article, the author implies that if you cannot answer this question, the interview is effectively over. The assumption is that if you are not interested in them they are not interested in you. The author also points out that you must research the employer by finding out all you can by any source. The article recommends that you take notes about what you can find about every organizational aspect. Practice answering the question by typing the answer that tells the employer about your knowledge of the organization and why you are the best fit for that organization. Demonstrate that you have done enough research to know that you are truly interested in working for them, but do not overdo it.
According to GlassDoor, these are the seven things you should learn about an employer: the skills and experience the company values; key players of the organization; news and recent events about the employer; the company’s culture mission, and values; clients, products and services; the inside scoop; and the person interviewing you.
If you follow the theme of this blog post, you will note that you must be prepared for any job interview. I grade first interviews on an A to F scale. Many of the candidates in my recent interview process rated a C, because they were not prepared. They did not know anything about the company (the position they are applying for involves research!) and did not ask thoughtful questions. I encourage anyone looking for future jobs to do research and study the organization in advance. That said, with organizational knowledge, they may realize they are not a fit for the position or company before they seek an interview. If you are not prepared for an interview, how can you be prepared to do the job well when hired? Are you prepared for your next interview? That is the question for this day.
Duke has extensive experience as a nonprofit practitioner and consultant. He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the last nine years and has had the CFRE designation for the last 25 years. He has also been a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals for over 35 years. He received his doctorate from West Virginia University with an emphasis in philanthropy, masters from Marshall University with an emphasis on resource development and a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University with emphasis in marketing/management. Currently he is executive director of development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division. Contact Duke at firstname.lastname@example.org.