Our recent experiences will help you with tips for nailing an interview with a social impact business. We recently went through a hiring process to add some members to our Anna Blanch Rabe & Associates. We were looking for skilled communications professionals who could step into our social impact business and help us make legalese easy to understand, share meaningful stories, and empower those who are building communities.
While we ended up with two great candidates we were somewhat surprised and perturbed about some of the behavior of some of the applicants in the interview stage.
Their missteps are your opportunity to learn and nail your next job interview with a social impact business!
So what did we learn? And what lessons do we think you can take away from our experiences interviewing new employees for our social impact business?
Acing your Interview with a Social Impact Business
In some ways, these tips for nailing an interview with a social impact business are stating the obvious. But given some of our experiences, they need to be reiterated.
If you say you are skilled in an area, you must be able to back up that claim with a specific example. You need to be able to name the applications or tools you are familiar with for solving the type of problem common in that field. The expectation is that you should be aware of the basics if you make claims that you are skilled in an area. Indeed, the expectation will be a level of knowledge consistent with what anyone familiar and skilled in the area would have along with being able to articulate a methodology for your approach. If you cannot name a single example of an application or tool, we will likely discount your own declaration that you are “skilled” in that area. You don’t necessarily need to be familiar with the tools an organization uses, because there is often more than one option and organizations will know that!
Be Humble even as you share how you are a great fit
For many positions, it’s okay not to be an expert already. Talk about what you are willing to learn and how you adapt to new situations. Show that you are teachable, even as you tell us how you can contribute positively and productively to the team. When you interview with a social impact business, we are interested in your own passions and why this kind of work is interesting to you. We are also interested in how willing you are to learn, how you approach steep learning curves, and how comfortable you are with not knowing all the answers.
If you are running late, communicate
Being late happens, it is not the end of the world. We actually hired someone who was late – the way they communicated in real-time and showed respect for our time make a positive impression on us. Their apology was believable as was their excuse. Most of all, they were able to shake off their initial disconcert and were relaxed and honest in their interview.
Be Self-aware about the extent of strengths
Don’t claim to be a “specialist” unless you can answer specific and extensive questions about the area you are claiming specialisation. If you are still getting your undergraduate degree in an area, it is highly probable you are not a specialist. You don’t have to have a degree to be a specialist, of course, but without some kind of experience, it can be challenging to take you seriously. While an interview with a social impact business has some distinctive features, this point particularly is applicable to all types of job interviews – the “fake it until you make it” advice has its limits! Indeed, “faking it until you make it” is very rarely good advice when working for an organization that cares about more than just financial results.
Passive-Aggressiveness has no place in an interview
Or, in emails before and after the interview. It begs the question of why you applied for the position in the first place. This kind of communication has no place in our organization – we value honest and straight forward communication, as well as a default position of assuming the best of each other. The passive-aggressive approach is especially ill-placed when you haven’t done your research about the company, or its key personnel. When you interview with a social impact business your attitude is especially important, as much of the work we do involves small efforts to positively impact the whole community.
Talking over the interviewer is never a good thing
Basic communication etiquette is essential – listen before answering. Talking over an interviewer rarely plays out well – actually, it never plays out well.
BONUS: Follow the application instructions
Your application is part of the assessment. I know that might seem strange to have to state that, but very often the instructions are there to help assess your attention to detail. If a job notice asks for a cover letter, then append one to your resume (if that is part of the application materials requested). A request for a cover letter is not satisfied by a one-paragraph email with other application materials attached.
Final note: You can do this!
You can do this! Be yourself. Be honest. We want you to succeed and nail that next interview with a social impact business!
To learn more about Anna Blanch Rabe & Associates and our content creation services for law firms and social impact businesses, and how we serve the non-profit community through communications consulting, please contact us. Learn about one of our passion projects.