looking for a new job

this photo is by Sofia Ajram on Flickr, with David Alexander

Are you looking for a new fundraising or nonprofit job? INC magazine thinks they can figure you out, psychologically, with these 7 questions. LOL NO. If you’d like to see 10 more interview questions you may be asked, just go here.

Here’s what INC magazine thinks are important interview questions to “weed out the bad hires”.

1. What did you initially find interesting about this job?

I have been asked this question, and you can go in two directions here. You can talk about what you know of the nonprofit or company culture (not much!). You can talk about the duties (and try to act excited about them). But that’s about it. Because unless you already know someone who works there, you have no idea if you’re going to have good co-workers or a good boss or not, and let’s face it, that’s the thing that is going to make or break how happy you will be in this job. Since you have no way of knowing this, it’s going to be hard to answer this question honestly.

2. Have you visited our website? What intrigued you about it?

I have been asked this question. They are checking to see if you did your homework. I don’t find this question particularly revealing. I usually think most nonprofit websites are poorly designed, and I often take the time to explain to them how their website could be better. I think this shows someone who is interested in a culture of continuous improvement, or perhaps they would see it as someone who is a troublemaker. C’est la vie! I might ask this question instead as “What do you know about our nonprofit?”

3. What salary do you need?

They want to know how low you can go. How low they can get away with paying you. The cads. And there’s no good way to answer this question except to say, “I prefer not to reveal that at this time.”

4. How much money would you leave us for?

LOL no one has ever asked me this question in a nonprofit job interview, and I doubt very much whether you will ever get asked this question.

5. Has there ever been a time when your workday was over but your tasks weren’t finished? What did you do?

No one has ever asked me this question. I think you know how to answer this, but just in case, you say, “I work til the tasks are done.” But I think in fundraising that goes without saying. They basically want to know that you’ll work til you drop.

6. How do you pick up the slack if a co-worker doesn’t finish a task?

Ask them what remains to be done, then do it! But again, I’ve never been asked this, and I doubt that you will be asked this.

7. Can you solve this problem?

Generally, people do not ask this question. They might ask, “Okay, if we hired you, and we’re starting our capital campaign, what is the first thing that you would do?” and then you could go on to show them your brilliant capital campaign ideas.

This photo is by Sofia Ajram on Flickr

What about the questions you need to ask them to show them you’re the right person?

INC magazine has answers for you!

What do you expect me to accomplish in the first 60-90 days?

This is a really good question. I like it. No problems here INC!

What are the common attributes of your top performers?

Here’s where it gets tricky, because you might be a development department of one, and there’s no institutional memory about the last really good person they had in that position. Or there’s no such thing as “top performers” in nonprofits, because often the outcomes are intangible, rather than tangible. Relationships built. People helped who later go on to do something good for the world. Things like that are hard to measure.

What are a few things that really drive results for the company?

Again, this is not really going to help you in a nonprofit job interview. Though you might want to ask, “What drives fundraising results for this nonprofit?” You might get, “Our board” or “Our big event” or “Our government contract” but at that point you’re just asking where does most of the money come from.

What do employees do in their spare time?

This is a silly question, and I don’t think you should bother with this.

How well do you follow up after the interview?

INC says, After the interview, it’s important to pay attention to whether the candidate follows up to convey how much he wants the job. 

That’s important. You do need to consistently follow up if you want the job. But how do you find out if the job is WORTH having?

Did you ever wish someone had taught you in high school how to interview, apply for jobs, and succeed in your first 90 days of a job? Like, was that trigonometry class really so much more important than this?

I, like most of you, fell into fundraising. When I started working full time at nonprofits, there were HUGE gaps in my knowledge. Ever heard the saying, “You don’t know what you don’t know?”

Well, we all don’t know what we don’t know. I made tons of mistakes in my first few years in the nonprofit field. Mistakes that I cringe to think about now. And I want to keep you from making the mistakes I made.

Update March 2017

If you liked these questions, check out the Fundraising Career Conference April 2017! 

Fundraising Career Conference 2017

UPDATE Feb 2019

If you liked this post, you might like these other posts on how to be a good nonprofit leader:

So You Want to Lead a
Nonprofit Part 1
So You Want to Lead a Nonprofit Part 2
Managing and Motivating Others, Part 1
Managing and Motivating Others, Part 2
Managing and Motivating Others, Part 3
How to be an executive director
How to be Chief Development Officer

If you want 65 more fundraising career resources, just go here.

If you want 99 more nonprofit leadership resources, click on over here.