6 Top Questions to Ask at Interview
So you’ve submitted a great CV and a standout cover letter, and you’ve come through to interview stage. Done your research on the charity that you’re applying to? Read the job description thoroughly? Practiced your answers for the questions that are likely to come up? Amazing. You’re all set to go. But wait… Have you thought about what questions you’d like to ask? These often tell the recruiter a lot about you as a candidate. They’re also a great way to figure out whether you actually want the role. Here are some top questions to consider.
1. What are the current challenges that your charity is facing? How can this role help to meet them?
This question shows that you’re looking at the bigger picture and want to see the impact that you could have on the charity’s future. If possible, try to frame it in the context of what you know about their work. For example, if you’ve seen that they’ve been trying to reach donors via new channels post pandemic, ask about what has worked so far. Offer up some suggestions of what you’ve found to be effective in past roles. It’s all about showing an interest and at the same time reaffirming that you’re the right person for the role.
2. What would you expect the successful candidate to achieve in the first three months?
Asking about short-term plans and targets shows that you’re motivated and driven. It’s also a great way to gauge the day-to-day nature of the role and whether it still appeals to you. Listen carefully to the recruiter’s answer and if you’re still keen, be sure to give your own thoughts on how you might reach given milestones. For example, if you’re interviewing for a web designer role and you’re told that the first three months will involve mapping user journeys, be sure to give examples of how you’ve done this in the past.
3. Is there a chance for career development? What does this look like?
You’re likely to want to know whether this job will impact your future career in a positive way. That’s why it’s good to press the recruiter on career development. If there’s a specific area that you’d like to learn more about, ask about both internal and external training opportunities. Unlike the private sector, charities usually don’t have large training budgets, but there should still be scope to further your skills. If you find that the recruiter gives a vague answer, ask about other members of the team. What has their career path been to date?
4. What is your management style?
If the recruiter would be your direct line manager, this is a great question to ask, as it will give you a real insight into the most important of your work relationships. A management style which is incompatible with the way you like to work may cause problems further down the line. If in doubt, ask for examples of how you might work together on a project or campaign and what your manager’s level of input would be.
5. Could you tell me more about the team that I’d be working in?
After finding out a bit about your potential future manager, it’s time to ask about the rest of the team. How would you interact with each of them on a daily or weekly basis? It’s a great chance to figure out the skillset of the team and to see who you might be able to learn from. Depending on the recruiter’s answer, you might also be given the chance to talk about how you’ve worked in similar teams in the past—just to give them that final example of how you’d be ideal for the role.
6. What is the charity’s culture like?
While charities are similar to each other in many respects, they can vary pretty widely when it comes to culture, so it’s good to ask about this. Is it a relaxed, flat management structure which favours autonomy or are there fixed structures and processes in place? Is there room for innovation? Are there set working hours?
A recent study by CharityTimes found that eight out of ten charity employees would like to work from home more often post-pandemic. Is hybrid or remote working important to you? Ask what your prospective employers plans are in this regard.
Figure out if this is the right place for you
The answers that you receive to all the above questions will give you a good sense of what the charity is like as an employer. And you might find that it doesn’t suit your working style or career expectations. That’s why it’s so important to delve deeper into the elements that important to you. And if you’re still interested, be sure to show why you’re the right person for the job.