I'm fine with this This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Find out more here.

Careers Advice

The Interview

Congratulations! You made it to the interview. This is a great step and it means that, on paper, the recruiter and the organisation believe you can do the job. The interview allows the organisation to compare you and your experience to other strong candidates. The purpose is threefold:

  • To verify the information on the CV or application form
  • To explore the extent and impact of any gaps in your experience
  • To assess your suitability in terms of personality and culture fit

Preparation is the key to performing well at interview. If you prepare well for the first two points you will feel confident and relaxed and your natural personality will shine through. Remember if the culture fit is wrong or they are looking for a different type of personality you probably wouldn't be happy in the role anyway, so be yourself!

Most importantly, the interview is a business meeting, it is not an exam. Take the job description, your CV, a list of your questions for them and paper to take notes. It is a two way conversation and in many ways you are interviewing the organisation to see if this is the right job for you.

Competency Based Interviews

These are increasing common and will ask you for specific examples of your experience. It is not enough to look over your CV and think that you will be able to talk through your experience. This leads to generalised, waffling responses. You need to provide EVIDENCE that your experience meets the competency in question. Extensive, detailed preparation is therefore essential:

  • Look at the person specification and note all essential and desirable criteria. These will be a mix of competencies and specific knowledge or expertise
  • Make sure you understand what each competency means so that you choose appropriate examples to illustrate your suitability
  • You need to prepare two or three examples of your experience that PROVE you meet each criterion. Look at the brainstorm you did in my step by step CV tutorial
  • Offering high level responsibilities does not PROVE that you have the experience. You will need to be specific and discuss what you have actually done in factual terms
  • Focus on your Actions and Results
  • Refrain from preparing narrative responses. You will spend your time in the interview trying to remember the sentence and this will put you off
  • Try using mind maps or single word notations to organise the information in your brain

Standard Questions

  • You need to prepare responses to standard questions in advance. Make notes of key points, not long sentences
  • For each standard question prepare an example of your experience that provides evidence to support your response

The Basics

Arrive on time Being late is the worst way to start an interview. Don't report for the interview too early - between ten and fifteen minutes is ideal; if you have time to spare, grab a coffee and relax.

Know your NGO It's important to show that you know about the NGO, what it does, its history, and its achievements. You should also have a good understanding of how the job you have applied for will contribute to the work of the NGO.

Appearance Smart and conservative dress is always recommended.

Answering Questions Try to make your answers concise but achievement orientated (e.g. 'Yes, I helped to increase donations by fifteen per cent'). Answers like this provide specific evidence of your abilities and allow the interviewer to ask for more information if required (e.g. 'How did you achieve such an impressive increase in funding?) This approach also helps a more conversational and relaxed interview to develop.

Asking Questions The questions you ask are an excellent opportunity to differentiate yourself from other candidates by demonstrating your passion for the job and appreciation of what it entails.

End of the Interview Make sure that you know what will happen after the interview and reaffirm your interest in the job.

ngo logo