In a world of remote work and conference calls, virtual job interviews are becoming increasingly more common. Mastering the nuances of virtual interviewing is key to getting your next job offer. Because nonprofits themselves have shifted with the times to more hybrid and virtual events, your interview is the perfect opportunity for you to showcase your comfort with online communication.
Online interviews require a similar preparation to in-person interviews, but you’ll notice some immediate differences. You won’t be able to familiarize yourself with the environment or get a feel for workplace culture by interacting with other employees. However, virtual interviews can remove some distractions that are inherent to in-person ones. According to Be Brilliant Presentation Group’s guide to effective presentations, there are five ways you can effectively present yourself to employers and nail your next virtual interview:
1. Research the Organization
Just like any other interview, you’ll need to know about the role and organization you’re applying for. But instead of walking into the interview confidently, you’ll be logging on.
Be sure to research key points about the nonprofit to get a sense of what they do and how your unique skills can help contribute to their success. Here are some items that are important to know about the organization you’re applying for:
- Core values
- Mission and work
- Recent newsworthy events
- Their upcoming plans to expand work in their cause area
The interviewer will likely ask why you want to work for that nonprofit or in their cause area. It’s important to be able to speak to any volunteer, employment, or opportunities for nonprofit professional development that have helped you learn about their cause and grow your skills within the nonprofit sector.
If you’re trying to break into the nonprofit sector, reach out to employees at the nonprofit you’re applying for. Check the organization’s website or LinkedIn to connect for a coffee chat. This can help you understand the nonprofit’s culture, who they’re looking to hire, and what their current needs may be.
You can also research nonprofit influencers or listen to industry podcasts to learn more about up-and-coming events in the organization’s cause area. The more prepared you are for the interview, the higher your chances of being hired.
2. Prepare Talking Points
After researching the company and position, you’ll need to gather information so you’re prepared to talk about yourself.
Identify the qualifications listed in the job description to help you understand the attributes they are looking for. Review your resume and previous experiences to find examples of your experiences and anecdotes that match the attributes and skills they’re looking for.
Nonprofits are always looking for new supporters and staff to expand their work on their cause. Be sure to note any previous strategies or technologies you’ve worked on in the past that are related to nonprofits. From CRM management to fundraiser planning to grant writing, any and all nonprofit experience can help set you apart from the competition.
It can be helpful to list the qualifications and your matching experiences side by side. If you’re struggling with finding your best qualities and skills, call a friend or coworker and have them describe your work ethic.
From this information, you can create an elevator pitch for yourself to answer the inevitable “Tell me about yourself” question. Because virtual interviews are limited to only seeing only your face and shoulders, try to be descriptive so they can get a sense of your personality. You can include hobbies and interests that show your personality and your work ethic.
For instance, saying, “I like to hike and read,” falls flat and misses out on a personal touch. Instead, you might say, “I like to hike because the outdoors re-energize me after a long week, and I love reading because it helps expand my vocabulary and enhances my creative writing abilities.” By adding a bit of context, you can set yourself apart from the competition and show how your hobbies integrate into your work-life balance.
If you’re feeling nervous leading up to the call, have a friend help you prepare by asking you questions about your qualifications. Practice can help you feel more comfortable with your talking points and help you speak more confidently during your interview.
3. Speak Confidently
Before logging on to your call, be sure you either have an external microphone or a clear audio receiver so you can speak clearly into the computer. You’ll want to be sure you’re presenting your skills confidently, so enunciate and always be thinking of what you’ll say next.
Greet your interviewer and ask them how they’re doing. This may seem simple, but many people forget to ask how the interviewer is doing. Opening with conversation can set a positive tone for the interview and help you remember that your interviewer is just a person too.
When you’re answering questions, take time to pause and consider your responses. The interviewer doesn’t expect an immediate answer, and they’d much rather have a coherent thought-out response as opposed to stammering through a quick answer. They will likely appreciate your thoughtfulness and quick analytical thinking.
4. Mind Your Body Language
Body language can be just as important as your words during an interview. Consider how conference speakers train their body language for their speeches: To come across more confidently, they use open body language by sitting up straight and looking directly at their audience. Avoid crossing your arms, talking too much with your hands, or fidgeting below the camera view. This can look odd from the interviewer’s perspective, and often makes you look tense and nervous.
When the interviewer is speaking or asking you questions, show them you’re paying attention. Slightly nodding along to their words can help indicate you’ve heard what they asked. If you’re unsure of what they’ve asked, you can try repeating the question back or ask a clarifying question. This shows you’re listening but trying your best to answer what they’ve requested.
Virtual calls can be distracting if you have your own image on the screen next to the interviewers. Be sure you are not staring at yourself in the camera during the interview, as this can look unprofessional and as though you aren’t listening to them.
5. Clear Your Environment
To speak confidently in your interview, it can help to be in a good location to take the call. Clean your desk and office to be sure you have a sleek background. A clean desk will also help you avoid being distracted by clutter during the interview or fidgeting with any items on your desk.
Test your computer camera by logging onto the software you’ll be using for the call to see how much of your office the lens captures. Every virtual call software has a different lens range, so it’s crucial to test this out.
A clean environment will help declutter your mind and help you focus on speaking confidently about your application and skills.
Virtual interviews can make it slightly more challenging to connect with your interviewer or read their nonverbal cues. However, they can also be an opportunity for your voice to shine and to demonstrate your confidence in your skills.
Be sure to thread in the nonprofit’s cause area throughout your interview, even if it’s just relating how your experiences at other organizations could translate into their workplace. At the end of the day, virtual interviews allow you more control of your appearance and environment, so take advantage of it to help you secure a new position.