Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Tell-All Interview Question You've Never Asked

The end of every job interview reaches the dreaded question, “Do you have any questions for me?” Of course, as the interviewee, nothing you really want to know can be answered at this point. (Are you going to hire me? Will this pay enough to cover my student loans?) So you ask simpler questions about the hiring timeline, how the interviewer joined the organization, etc.

But, there’s a much more important question that should be asked in a nonprofit job interview: “How would you describe your organization’s relationship with the board?” The answer to this question tells me everything I need to know, and answers a few other questions along the way.

Can the board members become professional contacts in the future?  In an ideal world, some of these board members are already in your network. If not, it may be important to you that there exists an opportunity to actually meet and interact with board members. Members of the board are ideally selected for their social capital, and personal connection to the organization’s cause. These are exactly the type of people who can plug you into other key individuals in your field to learn from and with.

How will the board members affect the quality of my work? While an active board is every nonprofit’s dream, it should not be an obstacle for staff members to overcome. Members who are involved in the day-to-day work have the potential to blur the lines between strategic guidance and strategy implementation. On the other hand, members who are largely inactive can create an obstacle by withholding the strategic guidance necessary to effectively do the work.

Is the board contributing to the organization’s sustainability? After asking about the board in a recent interview, the answer I received made it evident that the board was slowly, but surely, deteriorating. If this had been going on for months and continued in the same way, I did not want to be picking up the pieces while trying to fulfill the duties of my position.


For people like me (aka entry-level job seekers in the nonprofit sector), we spend every job interview worried about making the organization see how well we fit their culture and needs. However, we should view interviews as an opportunity to judge the reverse - how well the organization suits our needs and if it offers our ideal work environment. The beauty of the tell-all question is its ability to answer these questions in a matter of minutes.

By: Mallory Mitchell
Mallory is a second-year Master of Public Policy student concentrating in nonprofit management. Originally from Alabama, she hopes to pursue a career in nonprofit development here in the Twin Cities.

1 comment:

  1. You just need to have interview question and answer which can help you in further dealing. By this you can find perfect job.

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