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Acing Your Nonprofit Phone Interview

A man talking on the phone.

Navigating your way through any interview is a stressful event but make it a phone interview for a non-profit and it’s a double whammy. There’s a whole new aspect in an interview when you are applying for a non-profit job, and a lot of things can be unexpected. So to prepare yourself and ensure you are ready for your phone interview, follow these tips.

Properly Prepare

Be sure that you are well composed by the time the call comes in. Ensure you’ve researched the non-profit as well as the position you’re applying for. Set yourself up in a space without distractions or noises. Use a headset or a high quality phone to ensure there are no gaps or cuts in your sound and both parties can hear each other well. You don’t want to have to constantly ask your interviewer to repeat themselves because you are on a cell phone with poor coverage. Have a pen and paper to take notes on and maybe a few quick tips on a cheat sheet to help you out during the call.

If you are called without warning for an on-the-spot phone interview, ask to schedule a time to call them back. It is never a good idea to try to conduct your initial contact with an employer when you are preoccupied or unprepared. I had to learn this the hard way when a potential employer called me while I was driving and I thought interviewing over my in-car phone would be a good idea. I ended up pulling over in a parking lot to finish the call because I was too distracted to give the interview the appropriate attention.

Know the Non-profit

In order to answer some of the questions you need to really understand the non-profit. You should know what their end goal is, how they are achieving it, how the organization was founded and some of the criticisms of the organization as well. As much as we want to expect the best from people there are plenty of organizations that have less than enthusiastic reviews from the people they are trying to help. This is important in assessing how you can contribute to improving the organization’s processes.

You should be aware of all these things and be prepared to ask questions if you need clarification. By doing your homework you will be better able to decide if the organization really is a good fit for you and learn how to get involved.

Listen First

Let the interviewer take the wheel on the call. Be an active listener, utilize your note pad and think about what they are saying. The insight you will receive about the organization and the type of people who work there is hugely beneficial to you. That way you’ll go into your second interview- and hopefully your first day on the job- knowing what to expect.

By being an active listener you will have a better idea of the types of answers they are looking for and you won’t have to worry about being rude and interrupting your interviewer. Manners are especially important over the phone since you don’t have the benefit of facial cues and body language.

Smile When You Speak

A smile transfers through the phone. If you legitimately smile on the other end of the line they will be able to hear your happiness and excitement. Test it out some time and see if you can tell the difference.

Demonstrate Your Experience in Social Sector

Just like any other interview you should be prepared to share your relevant experience. This is especially important in the non-profit sector where they are looking for people who will be able to hit the ground running. The costs associated with hiring the wrong person are pretty big and nonprofits try to be as lean as possible. After looking closely at the job description think about your past experiences and list the ones that are most relevant. Be sure to include why you believe these experiences will benefit you in the position and the organization as a whole.

Know Your Motivation

One of the biggest things when applying for a non-profit is your motivation in doing so. We all want to save the world but do you have a clear and obtainable goal in mind? Do your ideals line up with the organization you are interviewing with? What are your expectations for the position? These are all things that are good to think about beforehand so you are not caught off guard when they are brought up.

Send a Thank You Note

It might seem old-fashioned to send a thank you note for an interview, but they are still relevant. It is a great way to let your interviewer know you appreciated their call. You can send one by mail or email; just ensure that it is personal. It is also a good way to keep in contact and remind the interviewer that you are interested in the job. It’s a final impression that can really help your chances in getting called back.

A phone interview is the first door to get through to getting your dream job at a non-profit. If you can ace the phone call you’re just one step closer to your goal. Do you have any tips for interviewing over the phone?

About the Author: Ally Mann is a freelance writer from Idaho. She enjoys camping, her German shepherds and getting lost in the middle of nowhere. Follow her on Twitter @allymanneray.

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