5 Tips To Prepare For An Interview

Friday, January 22, 2021

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By Ed Rogan, Valtas Group

I’m going to offer five tips for preparing to interview. Before I jump into the tips, I want to set just a bit of context. At the Valtas Group, we specialize in working with Boards of Directors that are hiring CEOs and Executive Directors in the nonprofit sector. Even so, this advice does apply across situations and roles and I believe you’ll find something useful here regardless of the type of position you are seeking. Remember what they say, “luck is where preparation meets opportunity”.

Tip #1: Learn about the organization

Demonstrate to the interviewer that you have taken the time to get to know something about the organization with which you are interviewing. Most social sector organizations put a great deal of information on their websites. Start there.

You can find out about their mission, vision, programs and services, their service population, the size and scope of the organization (like the annual budget, or size of the staff). You may be able to find a list of the names of the leadership team members and Board members, all in one place. Many post annual reports, form 990s, strategic plans, and audited financial statements as well. You can also use other sources like Guidestar, Glassdoor, and Charity Navigator for more information.
Now, you don’t have to know EVERYTHING, but you should know the basics.

Tip #2: Find out who you are interviewing with

This is closely related to the first tip. Most organizations will tell you who you will be meeting at each stage of the process. Do some research on each person. Find out about their role in the organization, other places they have worked or lived, schools they’ve attended, other interests they may have, where they volunteer their time – that sort of thing. Linked In is a great source for all of this information on many, many people.

You never know where your paths may have crossed in the past or what shared interests you may have. And those are great places to start to help you build rapport with your interviewers.

Tip #3: Analyze the responsibilities of the job

Take a look at the posting that you responded to or ask for a job description. Then, look at the responsibilities outlined for the job and the qualifications that they are seeking. Prepare a written comparison for yourself that aligns your skills and experience with their needs. You’ll be better prepared to discuss the role and how you will be able to meet their expectations. This will also help you develop and communicate a sense of confidence during the interview, as well as demonstrating that you’ve taken the time to really understand the role and determine your fit for the job.

Tip #4: Prepare to answer common questions

There is a ton of information out there about commonly asked questions, so I am not going to get into that here. But don’t let yourself be caught off guard by questions that you should have anticipated. By having clear, well thought out answers, you’ll come across much more confident and committed.

One of the things that I have found that really separates candidates is the use of specific examples from their experience in their responses to the questions. And not just things they’ve done recently or in their current role. These candidates dig deep and use stories and anecdotes from throughout their careers.

Remember, anyone can give the perfect textbook or theoretical answer to an interview question. But the people who can draw from their experience and illustrate how they have dealt with previous, analogous situations with explicit details REALLY stand out at the end of the day.

You can also use performance reviews from the past. They can help refresh your memory about accomplishments, goals, and achievements, as well as how others have described you, your skill set, your strengths, and areas in need of improvement.

Tip #5: Prepare a list of questions to ask

Remember, this is a two-way process - Every time you interact with someone representing your prospective employer is an opportunity for you to gather information. YOU should be evaluating the opportunity just as conscientiously as the interviewers are evaluating YOU. Make sure you have a list of questions ready to go for every interview throughout the process. You may not have time to ask all of them, but you should have them ready to go nonetheless.

As a starting point, your research into the organization or your analysis of the job description may have raised some questions for you. This is your chance to get some clarity and satisfy your curiosity.

Keep in mind that every person you talk to has a unique perspective on the organization based on their position or role, what part of the organization they work in, how long they’ve been there, or if they’ve worked for other organizations in the same field. Find out what they have to say.

This also demonstrates to each and every person you talk to that you value their perspective and that you respect the unique information and insights that they can provide you.

See the video on this topic which appears on the Valtas Group website.

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