How to Prepare for a Charity Job Interview
As the saying goes, ‘failing to prepare is preparing to fail.’ In the case of job interviews, this certainly rings true. According to research from Lever, only about 30-40% of interviewees end up getting a job offer. And even in a more buoyant job market, you shouldn’t expect to be given a job based on experience alone. So how can you ensure that you’re head and shoulders above the competition? Here are our four key tips for how to prepare for a charity job interview.
1. Carefully research the charity that you’re applying to
These days, it’s not enough to glance at a charity’s website for five minutes. You have to come prepared for a charity job interview. Interviewers are unlikely to offer the job to a candidate with little knowledge of their work. So take a deep dive into your prospective future employer’s recent campaigns and initiatives. Find out about current issues in the communities they serve. Take a look at their social media channels and read any recent press coverage.
Then put together a list of questions about the elements of their work that interest you most or that are most relevant to the role you’re applying for. Perhaps there’s a recent fundraising appeal that you’ve seen on Twitter and you’re keen to know the impact it’s had? Or maybe they’ve recently started supporting a new community and you want to find out what the challenges are? You can then ask these questions when the opportunity arises during your charity job interview.
2. Practice positive body language
Do you take a while to warm up during an interview? If so, you might want to prepare by practicing positive body language. Many interviews are held remotely, so it’s all the more important to make sure that your personality shines through. Why not practice with your friends and relatives?
Research has shown that first impressions are really important. Hiring managers often make up their minds about candidates early on in the interview. So remember to greet your interviewers with a warm smile.
3. Prepare for the most common questions related to your role
Be prepared to briefly summarise your career history and your motivation for applying to their charity. These are commonly asked for at the beginning of every charity job interview.
A crucial part of preparing for a charity job interview is learning as much as possible about the charity. But it’s just as important to show your experience in your given field. Research the most commonly asked interview questions for your position. Then take your preparation a step further and think about the answers to these in the context of the charity you’re applying to. For example, if you’re interviewing for the role of Social Media Manager, take a thorough look at all the social media platforms that the charity uses. You’re likely to be asked your thoughts on the campaigns (both organic and paid) they’ve recently run.
Prepare a brief analysis of what you were most impressed with and some suggestions for what they might do differently. Perhaps there are some A/B tests on fundraising campaign headlines that you’d try if you were given the role?
It’s also worth preparing practical examples of your skills and achievements that can be used flexibly to answer a range of different questions. Remember that with most roles, a charity will be looking for impact. So make sure you’re able to speak about the outcomes of your work.
4. Show that you’re passionate
Got another job offer on the table? Employers know that this might be the case for the top applicants. But if this is you, try not to be overly confident. Tell the interview panel why their charity is the one you feel strongly about. Perhaps it supported someone close to you? Maybe you’ve heard about the impact it’s had and you want to be part of the change? Whatever it is, be open about your motivation and let your passion shine through. It might just be the deciding factor when an employer is choosing between you and another candidate.
Remember, getting to the interview stage is a brilliant achievement in itself, so you now just need to do your training before sprinting to the finish line. You could even write yourself a template of the key areas that you need to cover as you prepare for a charity job interview and tick them off as you go along. Good luck!
And if you’re still searching for that perfect role, why not take a look at what’s available right now in the charity sector?
This post was originally published in 2022. We’ve updated it to ensure relevance and to reflect the current job seeker experience.