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  • Writer's pictureJeffrey Reynolds

How To Fail a Job Interview in Five Minutes

We recently filled two key positions at Family and Children’s Association (FCA) and because they were in Human Resources, I took part in those interviews. After the usual small talk about traffic and the weather, the first question I ask all job applicants is, “What do you know about Family and Children’s Association?” A few candidates said, “not much really,” while others said they had looked at the website and mentioned some programs.

Wait. You took the time to respond to the job posting, participated in a phone screening, scheduled and came to a job interview because this is the place you want to work and you don’t know anything about us?

Sure, interviews are a way for prospective employees and employers to get to know each other, ask questions and see if there’s a fit, but researching a organization has never been easier that it is today. Your understanding of the organization’s history, their initiatives, their team and their values demonstrates your interest in the job, and weaving what you’ve learned into the questions you ask and the answers you provide makes for a higher level conversation that gets you past the ten basic interview questions we ask everyone.

With non-profits, you – as a candidate – have a distinct edge when it comes to information. You can look up any non-profit’s tax returns on Guidestar and find out how they’ve been doing financially for the past few years, who funds the organization, who sits on the board of directors and what they pay their top managers.  Most organizations include their annual reports on their websites, along with leadership bios and program summaries. A quick Google search will let you know whether there’s been recent news (good or bad) about the organization and both and Glassdoor feature reviews from existing employees. Finally, take a look at the organization’s social media profiles so you’re up-to-date on current events, priorities and get a feel for agency culture.

All of this takes twenty minutes – less time than it probably took you to get dressed for the interview. At the end of that 20 minutes, you can decide whether to walk into that interview room focused, knowledgable, and confident with a leveled playing field or whether your time and our time would be better spent doing something else.

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