A Short Guide on Prepping for Non-Profit Interviews

Back on the job market after a year of non-profit work, I am approaching it with a much greater sense of ease. Last year, I applied for too many jobs that I didn’t want, simply out of insecurity. I realized how few life skills I had as a liberal arts grad. I saw what could happen if I compromised my politics and what would happen to me if I didn’t. I had to constantly remind myself to not be paralyzed by the abundance of lacking choices and how to keep dreaming even when I couldn’t see out of reality. And I discovered that job interviews required a highly crisp sense of self-awareness that my 20-something self could not articulate.

I’ve compiled a list of questions that I was asked at different interviews last year, in the hopes that non-profit job seekers — especially those who may not have career advising resources — can get a better idea of what interviews are like. These are collected from  2014 interviews with the Korean Resource Center (LA), Korean Community Center of the East Bay (Oakland), and MinKwon Center (NYC), but can speak to a broader scope of nonprofit interviews.

Sample Interview Questions

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Do you have a personal connection to the work? How did you get involved in this type of work?
  • What about our mission speaks to you?
  • Why do you want this job?
  • What do you think you can bring to the position?
  • Much of your work has been through internships and academic work. Speak to how your work may translate to this position.
  • Describe your most ideal and worst work situation esp in regards to teamwork.
  • How do you respond to criticism?
  • How do you deal with conflict? Give an example of a recent workplace conflict that you had and how you dealt with it.
  • What your strengths? What are your weaknesses?
  • What are three words that your friends would describe you with if we asked them.
  • What are three issues that you’re passionate about?
  • Give an example of how you quickly adapted to a situation.
  • Do you have any concerns about the position or challenges that you foresee?
  • Do you have any salary expectations?
  • Do you have any questions for us?

Check Out These Quick Tips!

  • Don’t forget that you are also interviewing the organization.
    You are testing out the organization just as much as they are interviewing you. You will be spending most of your day with co-workers. Make sure they’re a good fit!
  • Make your job choices carefully & wisely (and not out of desperation!)
    Folks say that having too many short-term jobs decreases your future job chances. It also takes a little bit of time before you’re able to quit. You don’t want to be stuck somewhere you don’t want to be.
  • Have a salary range ready for the interview.
    In the Bay, I was paid an annual salary of $35,000, as well as a relocation cost of $1,000. In LA, they offered $32,000, and in NYC, I’ve heard that $30-$40,000 is a common range for entry level nonprofit positions. If you’re uncomfortable about requesting a flat rate, provide a range. You can also add that you’re willing to negotiate on the salary.
  • If possible, speak to a former or affiliated employee.
    There are certain aspects of an organization that is impossible to know from their interview. Try to find someone who can freely speak their minds on the organization, or someone at another organization who regularly works with them. You can also check out Glassdoor for any reviews.

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