So, you’ve applied to volunteer for a cause you care about and you’ve successfully landed yourself an interview; what’s next?
Well, you can be sure that it won’t be the same as a traditional interview. Your career success will hardly play a factor in whether or not you get the job.
In the nonprofit sector, passion and being genuine are normally the factors that land you the role. So, how do you show your motivation to help out?
Below, we have outlined ten tips for succeeding in your volunteer interviews.
Volunteer Interview: What Are They Looking For?
Here are some key attributes recruiters are looking for that will benefit you to know in your interview with a nonprofit organization:
1. Be Certain
It is normal to be cautious about where you volunteer your precious time – but in an interview is no time to yourself.
Remember – you applied for their organization because you see them as a leader in their cause and your skills fit their needs.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be curious of the nature of their work, but just be as certain as possible you are in the right place.
2. Write an Application Essay
Writing a volunteer application essay isn’t the norm, but if you are knowledgeable about the cause and have done your due diligence learning about the organization, why not show them with a short essay showcasing your dedication.
It is sure to catch their attention and, depending on what you write, it could rub them in the right way about you.
It doesn’t have to be a school-length essay. Be articulate, short, and sweet. Say what you need to say that will prove you are the one for the position.
3. Share Your Real Reasons for Volunteering
The interviewers want to understand why you want to be part of their organization. Showing up to talk with unclear answers and false motivations is the worst way to persuade them. To make a good impression, you have to be absolutely honest.
Try to put yourself in a situation where you’re not afraid to be judged by the recruiter. Finally, offer your time and energy. If you’re sure about your reasons, you will have no trouble saying what you think and illustrating your personality.
4. Lead the Conversation of your Volunteer Interview
Know the cause inside-and-out. Don’t wait for your interviewer to ask you the right questions because, often, the person interviewing you has no HR or interviewing experience and is just a regular volunteer-turned-employee of the organization.
Lead the conversation and show the interviewer how much you know and how much you care. Find a way to include everything in your answers which you know and everything which will benefit you – even if it doesn’t directly reflect an answer to their question.
5. Do Research on the Organization
The first thing you have to do is simple: study the organization you want to work for. Look for their mission, figure out their work culture, and perhaps even familiarize yourself with their team. If you can, ask former volunteers what the most important demands and characteristics of this work are.
When you arrive for an interview – both online and in person – you will be better prepared for the difficult questions the interviewer may ask you. If your answers are convincing and are the result of your initial research, your recruiter will be aware of this and impressed with your proven dedication.
6. Share Ideas
A volunteer may not be as well-versed about the cause as other employees within the organization, but that does not mean your ideas are worthless. Presenting your ideas at the interview can be both valuable to the organization and give your perspective a fresh appeal.
One of the main ingredients of successful organizations is teamwork – and teamwork starts when everybody (including the volunteers) feel open to sharing.
7. Sell Your Previous Volunteer Experience
Your previous experience as a volunteer shows that you are a person who cares about others. People who volunteer have many reasons for doing this, but one of them is their desire to be selfless. The desire to give and help the community as much as possible.
Don’t forget to mention your previous commitments, as this will give you extra points in the eyes of the recruiter.
8. Show You’re a Self-Starter
Presenting your ideas is one thing, but showing your initiative is a whole new thing.
Maybe you’ve started a project related to the cause – that’d be worth sharing no matter what stage it is in. Or, maybe the project isn’t related to the cause, but rather, related to your skills that can help the cause.
Maybe your interest in the cause drove you to reading the founder’s autobiography or the ‘story’ of the organization. Whatever it is that shows you have some drive in you, don’t be afraid to share it in your interview.
9. Ask Questions
What do you see in someone who asks a lot of questions? I see interest and passion. Even during interviews with volunteers. When you show up and sit quietly in the chair, waiting for the “test”, you are proving yourself to be passive. In order to demonstrate your passion, you should ask the right questions, hopefully with these angles in mind:
- Learn more about the role – something that isn’t on the job description.
- Be involved in the conversation even when not speaking – show curiosity and involvement.
10. Be Positive
Positivity is a factor that makes the whole operation quicker. If you have self-confidence and a positive outlook on the mission, that’s wonderful – you will probably find an opportunity faster than people who are not optimistic.
Here are some suggestions for positive language that you can include in your answers to voluntary interviews:
- I really want to make a difference
- I’m ready to…
- I’m very motivated.
- I’m very interested
- I wonder if…?
- I’m excited.
- I am very motivated
Landing Your Nonprofit Volunteer Role
Now, you have an idea of what it takes to land a volunteer role in the nonprofit sector. Whether or not your put these steps to practice is your choice, but remember, show your true self. In the nonprofit world, that’s all we are really looking for.
Character goes a long way in a field full of passion.
Interested in volunteering with us? Shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, if you are an organization interested in partnering with us – great! You can reach us at email@example.com.