Interview

April 18, 2012; Source: U.S. News & World Report

You’re at the end of a job interview. You’ve aced all the questions and deemed yourself the interviewing master. Just as the conversation is about to wrap up, the interviewer asks the inevitable question: “Do you have any questions for me?”

Can you believe that some interviewees say “no?” Instead of awkwardly fumbling your way through the next ten minutes, Alison Green suggests that you be prepared to ask questions that matter. Green, the author of Managing to Change the World: The Nonprofit Leader’s Guide to Getting Results, offers the important reminder that the interview is not over until you exit the door, so your questions—both those that you ask and those you do not ask—can set you apart from the candidate behind you. This opportunity is also a great way to determine if the employer is a good fit for your values, lifestyle and needs.

Here are the 10 questions that Green suggests you should ask in your interview:

  1. What are the biggest challenges the person in this position will face?

  2. Can you describe a typical day or week in the position?

  3. What would a successful first year in the position look like?

  4. How will the success of the person in this position be measured?

  5. How long did the previous person in the role hold the position? What has turnover in the role generally been like?

  6. How would you describe the culture here? What type of people really thrive in this job, and what type don’t do as well?

  7. How would you describe your management style?

  8. Thinking back to the person who you’ve seen do this job best, what made their performance so outstanding?

  9. Are there any reservations you have about my fit for the position that I could try to address?

  10. What is your time line for getting back to candidates about the next steps?

All of these questions are especially applicable to those of us who work in the nonprofit sector. They also got us thinking about a few more that we think are worth asking:

  1. What types of professional development opportunities exist? Can you give examples of what other staff members do to stay abreast of the latest knowledge in the field?

Most nonprofits are very limited on their funding and therefore prospects for professional development may seem nonexistent. By asking this question, you show that continuous learning is important to you.

  1. What are some strategic goals that the organization is working towards within the next few years?

Thriving nonprofits are committed to operational goals that will help complete their mission. Understanding those goals will help you determine what the nonprofit considers important and helps the interviewer understand that you are not only committed to your personal goals, but also to advancing the greater mission.

What are some other questions that have helped you land a great nonprofit job? Are there important questions that are missing from this list? Please comment below and let us know what you think. –Saras Chung