I’ve spent the past couple of weeks interviewing people for a great opportunity at my non-profit.
The economy is in pretty good shape, meaning that today’s job market favours sellers to a certain extent, but it’s never easy to put yourself out there and be judged by somebody like me.
Most people don’t enjoy the process, and it’s not always easy for the interviewer, either.
Still, each time around, there are one or two candidates who stand out from the crowd and make me eager to meet them and bring them onto my team.
Those candidates usually have a few things in common.
Their CVs show their personalities without being weird
A good CV or resume strikes a balance between giving the interviewer the information they need to know, including your education, employment history, and relevant skills, and standing out.
For non-profit jobs, showcase any work you’ve done in the community, as well as any outside interests you have that might be relevant to the position you want.
Unless you are applying for a job in an animal-rights organization, your dedication to your pet probably won’t impress me.
On the other and, if you’re hoping to be hired as a media spokesperson, telling me about your interest in improv is one way of showing that you can think on your feet.
They focus on relevant results
Highlight your last five years or so of experience, and don’t just repeat your job descriptions in the work history section of your CV.
Give some examples of the results you achieved, especially if you went beyond your official duties, in a way that is tailored to the position for which you are applying.
The candidate I hired for our latest opportunity showed that they mentored a team of new hires to not only complete a significant research project in record time but to win an award in our sector.
Since my organization’s mandate includes training as well as policy, this made me want to meet them.
They have coping and learning skills
One of my favourite interview questions is “Describe a time when you were not able to deliver on a commitment. What happened, why, and how did you handle the situation?”
There is only one wrong answer to that question, and that’s anything along the lines of “I can’t answer this because I always deliver on my commitments.”
I’m polite to those interviewees, but that response tells me that the candidate is either dishonest or lacking in self-awareness.
Or maybe both.
Sh*t happens to all of us, and you and I both make mistakes and get knocked sideways by life circumstances.
I don’t need people in my organization to be perfect, but I do need them to be flexible, resilient, and realistic in dealing with themselves and others.
Focus on how you adapted, prioritized, and learned.
They listen to the interviewer
If you are stuck in transmission mode, you will miss important information and opportunities to tailor your responses to what the interviewers want to hear.
During this last hiring process, my interview partner wanted to share their own stories and give specific details about our situation.
The successful candidate was one of the only ones who managed to overcome their natural nervousness well enough to take advantage of the free clues that were out there.
As a guideline, try to make sure you’re not talking more than two-thirds of the time, and ask at least a couple of clarifying questions during the discussion.
It’s essential to be sure that you give the interviewer your most complete responses.
The more you can make the interview a two-way conversation, the more likely you are to create a rapport with the people on the other side of the table.
The most challenging part of hiring is making sure that the person will work well with other people.
Listening with respect demonstrates the humility and sensitivity that makes me want you on my team.
They check me out
Another one of my favourite questions is “tell me about your ideal boss.”
There’s no wrong answer to this one, but an honest answer gives both me and the candidate the opportunity to know if we’re going to get along.
For example, anyone who says they need a lot of daily contact or supervision is probably not going to be happy with my “mission command” leadership style.
It’s better for both of us if we find that out the easy way. Just like the best divorces happen before the wedding, your best resignation comes before your hiring.
I won’t hire anyone without competence and skills, I’m looking for a human being, and I expect people to make mistakes.
You should also be aware that I’ll probably creep your social media to make sure it lines up with what you’re telling me.
Like most leaders, all I want to know how you treat those around you, whether you are trustworthy, transparent, and will help our organization achieve our mission and enjoy doing it.
That’s not scary at all. Right?