20 Nonprofit interview questions…translated

I’ve been in my fair share of interviews…on both sides. Here are some of the best questions I’ve ever used or heard asked, along with what you’re really getting at.

What to ask the organization…

  1. What’s the work culture like? (Can I survive here? Is it chaos? Boredom? Fun?)
  2. How will my performance be measured? (Do you micromanage? Is there any system at all or will I be measured arbitrarily according to how you ‘feel’ I’m doing.)
  3. How do you measure impact? (Do you know your topic area?)
  4. How do you measure progress towards that impact? (Is your organization actually making a measurable impact – or just puttering along?)
  5. What’s your supervision style? (Do you micromanage? Will your ‘style’ drive me crazy?)
  6. What’s the staff retention rate? (Is there an underlying culture problem that has encouraged a revolving door? Do you work with people if/when their skills need supported?)elf-revolving
  7. What does my first week, month and year look like? (Do you have a vision/plan for this role – or are you relying on me to develop that? Note: either is fine, just important to know.)
  8. What does a great day look like? (How do you really measure success? Can I have fun here and feel good about our work?)
  9. What does the worst day look like? (And if I can handle that, I’ll be ok.)
  10. What does this role look like in 5 years? (Is this organization comfortable with the status quo? Could I get promoted? Will I be doing this the rest of my life?)

What to ask the candidate…

  1. Why are you interested? (This work can be hard – are you personally tied to the mission so your daily work is inspired? Convince me you’re passionate about this cause.)
  2. What are you best at? (Pitch me on you and your skills.)
  3. What are your weaknesses? (Prove to me you have some self-awareness.)
  4. How do you handle stress and challenging situations? (Are you going to pout, complain or go postal on us?)
  5. Tell me about your career path. (Take a moment and explain the holes or odd transitions.  And can you tell a compelling and concise story?)
  6. What’s your working style? (Can you get things done and deal with distractions?  Can you handle the role and know when to ask for guidance and when to get ‘er done on your own? Will you sing at your desk all day or put up cat posters?)
  7. What are your salary expectations? (Can you give me a number/range without wavering, and make the case for your value at that level?)
  8. What have you been reading lately? (Are you an informed person? Are you interesting?)
  9. How do you organize your work? (Can you prioritize? Are you organized? Can I trust you in this role?)
  10. Why is this the right next step for you? (Do you have a thoughtful career path? Is it really about this organization or is this the only interview you got?)

2 thoughts on “20 Nonprofit interview questions…translated

  1. Love the first tip.. ask about work culture. I feel like culture fit too often gets taken for granted on both ends. An interview should solidify for individuals on each side of the table that the organizational culture jives well for the interviewee.

  2. Totally agreee with your article. No 1 is really important “What’s the work culture like?” and it eliminates future mismatch porblems between a person’s personality and expectation on one hand and ont he other hand the organizational culture.

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