Your first interview for a role is likely to be brief. You will have a limited amount of time, probably virtually, to provide the information that the decision-maker needs to consider your candidacy while encouraging them to want to learn more. With thoughtful preparation, this format presents an opportunity for you to advocate on behalf of your candidacy and provide insight into the talent that you may bring to a role.
Before the Interview
Scheduling Your Interview
Become familiar with and on the lookout for an electronic invitation—check your spam folder. Review all embedded instructions prior to scheduling the interview. The invitation may include questions or other information that will help you succeed during the interview. Become fluent across multiple video conferencing platforms and test the most widely used platforms. Once you have received and accepted the invitation, test the video platform prior to your interview to allow sufficient time to navigate through any challenges you might encounter.
Preparing for Your Interview
All opportunities offered by ALG are accompanied by a prospectus that serves as an overview of the role and the organization to which you are applying. Spend sufficient time with this document prior to the interview—considering both its content and its tone. The content will inform the competencies that you share, and the tone will inform how you present those competencies. Reviewing both the responsibilities and preferred qualifications, compare your skills and experiences with those stated in the prospectus. If you have transferable skills not cited in the prospectus, be prepared to share how those skills are relevant, with specific examples. ALG welcomes questions in advance of the interview, so feel free to reach out to the interviewer if you have questions. Carefully consider the salary range for the role as well as geographic restrictions prior to submitting your application. Consult with others that may be impacted by your decision to pursue the role.
During the Interview
Be on time and dress as you would for an in-person interview. Choose a setting without audible or visual distractions—opt for a blurred background if that makes you more comfortable.
Be prepared to share stories that clearly and succinctly demonstrate your abilities and skills as they relate to those cited in the prospectus; reinforce your alignment with the organization’s mission; emphasize successful donor relationships you’ve nurtured over time; highlight the scope of your work, using measurable statistics; provide insight into your commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility; exhibit both the leadership and collaborative aspects of your work; explain your career trajectory and any brief tenures or gaps in employment; and show gratitude and gravitas.
Seven Tips for Success
1. Know the prospectus backwards and forwards—this is your interview roadmap;
2. Become fluent in digital platforms—this will minimize technical issues while giving you the confidence to focus on your presentation;
3. Conduct due diligence—visit the organization’s website and become familiar with its mission and culture;
4. Know who you are speaking with—if you are speaking with a search firm representative, visit the firm’s website and read the interviewer’s bio;
5. Be patient—not every question that you have about the role or the organization will be answered but more information will be provided as the search progresses;
6. Watch the clock and pace yourself—be aware of the time allotted and respond accordingly—be prepared to share complex gift stories in a simple, straightforward manner; and
7. Be discreet—regarding both donors and colleagues.
After the Interview
Email the interviewer; thank them; and address any questions that remain.
When working with ALG, have confidence that we will keep you informed. Timelines vary from six weeks to several months. Check in if your situation changes but avoid interpreting delays as a reflection on your candidacy.
Jeanette Rivera-Watts, Director for Search Management and Search Consultant
Kim Farr, CFRE, Search Consultant