Stating the Obvious: 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 behaviors 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!

Be Honest

If you say you are skilled in an area, you must be able to back up that claim with a specific example. Tell us what applications or tools you are familiar with for solving the type of problem common in that field, and which anyone familiar and skilled in the area would have a methodology to approach. If you cannot name a single example, we will likely discount your own declaration that you are “skilled” in that area.

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.

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.

Be Self-aware about 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 makes it 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!

Passive Aggressiveness has no place in an interview

Or, in emails before and after the interview. It begs the question 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 met by a one paragraph email with the other application materials attached.

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.

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