The interviewer wants to get to know you more to ensure you are a good fit. Think to the consistent compliments that you receive from your co-workers or previous managers. These are likely your biggest strengths!
"I am disciplined. I work hard and stay focused on the task at hand. My consistency makes me reliable and gives others confidence in me."
"My greatest strength is giving to others. This comes in handy in my volunteer work because I will always find the resources needed to support the organization for which I volunteer."
"I am very resourceful! When working with non-profit organizations, this is an especially helpful skill. I know how to budget, cut costs, and stretch resources."
The interviewer wants to see if you the have self-awareness required to understand your weaknesses. Knowing the areas in which you can improve, is a sign of maturity. Share something that you have taken the time to reflect on. Maybe you made a mistake by moving too quickly through a project, and not paying attention to detail. Whatever it may be, show your ability to adapt and change from the mistakes or behaviors that didn't serve you in the past.
"I tend to be a people pleaser. In the past, I have said 'yes' before looking at my schedule, and I have overcommitted myself. Now whenever my boss asks me to do something, I let him know I need to check to make sure I have the bandwidth. This practice has saved me from taking on too much and overworking myself."
"My greatest weakness is caring too much about the small details. It can be easy to care a great deal about the minute details. I have worked on this by ensuring that I remind myself of the big picture."
"My greatest weakness is in taking control when leadership opportunities present themselves. I am not a naturally outgoing or gregarious personality. I have taken the opportunity to sign up for a free leadership skills workshop at the local library. I hope this will help me to hone my leadership skills further."
The interviewer wants you to bring your resume to life for them. If you have worked several different jobs, focus on the ones that pertain to this role. Think about ways you can transfer the skills from previous jobs and apply them to this volunteer position.
"I have spent the past five years working in a human resources position. I focus on tasks such as recruiting and administration. Through these experiences, I have developed a passion for helping others find jobs. I look forward to applying those skills here, as a volunteer coordinator."
"I have been working as a maintenance supervisor for the past fifteen years. Part of my reason for volunteering is to gain some variety in my day to day experiences. I look forward to helping others and giving back to the community."
"After achieving my Bachelor's Degree in Communication, I worked for a local marketing agency for seven years. It was through this company that I learned the importance of corporate volunteering."
The interviewer wants to know what drives you to help others. This question is a further test, by the interviewer, to convince themselves that you have a passion behind your volunteering ambitions. Interviewers are trying to avoid picking candidates from the crowd of people who say, 'Well my Mom told me I should help volunteer...' or 'I heard this is a great place to make friends.' Sure making friends is great, but most would instead choose a candidate that volunteers because they are passionate about what the organization provides to the community.
"I love helping others, especially the elderly because there is a great joy in being a servant for those in need. Your organization helps the people who I care most about, and I would love to be a part of it."
"Helping others is my innate nature. It is part of the fabric of who I am. I think it has a lot to do with how I was raised. My mother always volunteered her time to local causes and feeding the homeless. I was brought up with this value at the forefront of living, and it has been a rewarding part of my life ever since!"
The interviewer wants to see if you are a good culture fit. Would you go out for drinks with the team after work? Would you want to play ultimate frisbee for a team activity? Share an answer that shows you are a team player. You are interviewing for a volunteer position, so be sure to show how passionate you are about helping others. Keep your answer simple. They don't need to know everything you like to do on the weekends or evenings, but if there is something you think is worth sharing, that might spark the interest of the interviewer, do share. Be interesting and memorable.
"I enjoy spending time outdoors. I often take my dog Oscar to the local park. Also, I volunteer at the local animal shelter on Saturday mornings."
"When I am not working or volunteering, I am usually found reading. I value self-improvement and spent a great deal of time reading a variety of materials and listening to podcasts."
"During my free time, I love to work on self-development. I watch one TED Talk per day which teaches me a lot. I also love to cook, and enjoy fine wine."
What are you doing to give back to your community? If you're not currently involved in an organization, share how you are making a positive impact in your community or your family.
"I'm working with an organization that teaches kids about nature. I enjoy it because I care about the environment and I love working with kids. It's good to know that by educating them I'm empowering them to make a difference in their communities."
"If you're not involved in an organization, consider this, "I started a book club with my friends. Every month we choose a book that teaches us more about the world we live in. It has been a great way to build community and learn about different cultures."
"Currently, I give time to the local Red Cross and an in-class mentoring program for young students at my local elementary school."
The interviewer wants to know if you are a leader and if others see you that way as well. Talk about initiatives and accomplishments, your key personality traits, or your presence within your community.
"I recently started a workout club, three days a week, with my friends. They admire me for my discipline, and we have been able to motivate each other by being consistent and showing up to work out together."
"I hope to be seen as a role model because I strive to be a strong example in everything that I do. One way I position my self as a role model is to be the first to try new things, and take a chance on myself and others."
"I am a role model to others and have spent a great deal of time establishing myself as a person who can offer leadership, and sound advice. Currently, I work with Big Brothers/Big Sisters where I am a role model to an 8-year-old boy."
Now is your time to show off! Highlight the best parts of your background. This is a chance to sell yourself and explain why you are the best fit for this position. Be specific and share your strengths. If there are particular skills necessary for the role, be sure to mention if you have those.
"I am teachable and can learn new things quickly. I volunteered at an animal clinic for a summer when I was in college, and I learned how to handle clients during challenging times. I am a good listener and can stay calm in difficult situations."
"Here is a list of skills that a volunteer should have: - Timeliness - Leadership - Professional - Reliable - Compassionate - Diverse "
"I'm excited for the opportunity to apply my past volunteer experiences to this organization. I am organized, committed and ready to contribute high-level value."
The interviewer wants to know how you will fit into their team. It is important to share that you can work well with most people, but also you know what kinds of people motivate you and make the work environment a better experience. Stay away from discussing people whom you dislike working with. Think of a few traits that co-workers should have, and include that in your answer. Such as, motivated to succeed, enjoys collaborating with others, and passionate about their careers.
"My favorite type of person to work with is the person who loves what they do! I love people who are compassionate and enjoy helping each other out. With volunteering, we are all working together to help achieve a better good and these are the types of people whom I like to achieve that with."
"I love working with like-minded people! This includes those with a great amount of energy and ambition to make the world a better place."
"I most enjoy working with people who are driven, focused and have a compassionate heart. How would you best describe the work environment here?"
The interviewer wants to know how they can motivate you during the tougher days. Do you need words of appreciation? Public accolades? A pat on the back? What keeps you going when things get rough? This would be a great time to share how serving others is a motivation in itself. The interviewer is looking for qualities they want to see in a member of their team. Service, interaction with the people you're serving, having fun with your team... those are all excellent examples.
"I'm not looking for a specific reward from your organization, simply being involved in a team setting, making friends, and knowing that I am making an impact on those in need, will be rewarding enough!"
"I am internally motivated. When I feel like my time and energy is making a positive difference, it makes me want to keep going."
"Truly, I don't thrive on public recognition. I do appreciate a little pat on the back, or kind words in private, if you do see me performing well."
Share what you know about the organization and the aspects of the role that you're most excited about. Enthusiasm, based on knowledge, will go a long way. This is a chance to 'wow' the interviewer. Discuss what your underlying motivation is. If you need volunteer hours to get into a college or graduate program, tell them about the program and share how it relates to their organization. They aren't just looking for passion; they want to know you are invested in their cause!
"Your mission is to deliver resources and make a difference in the lives of those underserved. I cannot think of a better cause to be a part of, and I'm excited about the opportunity to be on your team!"
"I am passionate about being in the position to help others, especially when I can utilize my skills to make a difference in the life of others."
Explain your answer by sharing what was rewarding about your most memorable volunteer experience. Discuss the upside of volunteering. Tell a great story, and even pull some heartstrings if necessary.
"When I worked at an animal shelter, I had to clean up after the animals and got to walk the dogs. It was rewarding because people who love animals surrounded me. I got to learn more about them, their health issues and how to care for different breeds of dogs and cats. It was fascinating to me, and I learned a lot!"
"For me, it's the small wins when you help people. I like to put a smile on the face of a stranger by buying their coffee, or giving them my spare change when I walk by. Helping the community doesn't always have to come in the form of an organized effort, or grand gesture."
"I worked with a mission team to rebuild the home of an elderly woman who was living under the poverty line. She became ill and needed a wheelchair ramp built to access her home and go about her day-to-day. This was someone's mother and grandmother. Because of our work, it is much easier to care for her, and she can live a more independent lifestyle as she did before becoming ill. We all have hardships, and when people come together to enrich the lives of others, it is the most beautiful part of helping."
This question is pretty straightforward. What work have you done that makes you qualified for this volunteer role? Talk about what you have learned, and which skills you are prepared to bring to this organization.
"My volunteer experience includes feeding the homeless, fundraising, and mission trips where our group rebuilds areas from poverty or natural disaster. Volunteering my time to help others is one of my greatest passions. When I give, I always feel like I end up receiving much more in return."
"I do not have recent volunteer experience; however, I have worked as a caregiver in the past. My client was suffering from Alzheimer's, which was a challenge, but I enjoyed problem-solving and learned different ways of handling challenging situations. It forced me to think outside of the box, and I like those kinds of challenges."
"I enjoy serving the underserved in the community. I deliver meals on wheels to the elderly. I serve lunch at the local homeless shelter, and I volunteer as a storytime reader at the local library."
Companies will have confidentiality agreements for a variety of reasons. These could be to protect their trade secrets or to ensure that you do not bring clients over on the occasion that you leave their company. Talk to the interviewer about your thoughts on confidentiality agreements.
"I never have, to my knowledge, broken a confidentiality agreement. Despite my reasons for leaving a position, I would never choose to hurt a previous employer in any way."
"No. I have only once had a confidentiality agreement and had no problem adhering to it."
"Confidentiality agreements are necessary and important to protect an organization. I understand the need for confidentiality and take those factors very seriously. I have never broken the trust of my employer."
It is always best to support your reply with a real-life example. Talk to the interviewer about your level of attentiveness when it comes to details on the job.
"My co-workers would describe my attention to detail as very strong. I can very easily point out spelling discrepancies in communication and will notice the small things. I think big-picture as well but have always had a knack for details."
"My attention to detail is a point that I have been working on a lot this past year. I am meticulous but, in the past, have pushed my documentation back a little bit. It's something I am conscious of and continually working on."
"I can't necessarily speak for them, but I think they would say that I have above average attention to detail. I make mistakes, but I usually catch them before passing my work on to the intended recipient."
The interviewer wants to see that you are capable of creative solutions to everyday problems. Think of a time when you had an unexpected suggestion in the workplace. Non-profit organizations love to hire candidates who are innovative, and able to implement their ideas. Focus more on your creative approach, rather than the problem itself.
"Our company canceled this year's annual holiday party due to budget cuts. Everyone was disappointed because it's a fun way to get to know your teammates on a different level. I decided to take my team out, on my dime, because it is a significant way to build engagement and excitement. They appreciated the gesture, and I was happy with how well they performed in the weeks to come."
"Creativity is the best way to solve problems. Two associates were having trouble understanding the work that the other one did, and this was impacting the overall group. I pitched that the two individuals switch roles for two weeks to better understand their impact on the organization's success. They both came out of the experience having felt a new appreciation for another's job, and now they are cross-trained too!"
"I like thinking outside the box. I was once tasked with better tracking our inventory to make sure small parts, like nuts and bolts, were ordered on time and not too early causing a surplus. I spent time counting how many screws were in a full bin vs. avg how many we used per day. I then took a piece of red electrical tape and made a line on the bin that would give us a rough estimate of a week's worth of screws left, enough time to order and receive some more. A simple and free solution."
The interviewer would like to know that you are accustomed to working with a broad range of people. Are you accustomed to working with a very large or diverse team of individuals? Assure the interviewer that you can handle an environment that offers diversity.
"I have worked with diverse groups of people most of my career, including my time in University. I am most comfortable, and happy, in this type of environment because it offers a great learning opportunity."
"In my current role, I work alongside cross-functional teams regularly. Together, we are very effective."
"I would say that pretty much every company I have worked for has valued diversity. Working with people from all walks of life help shed different perspectives and identify potential problems faster."
Culture and fit is a significant factor to an interviewer and interviewee alike. Assure the interviewer that you have put thought, research, and consideration into how the culture at this non-profit will be a fit for you.
"I have researched your organization through your social media channels and on glassdoor.com. Your employees and volunteers have great things to say, and overall it seems that you have fun while you work. I am looking forward to joining an organization, like yours, that is upbeat and thoughtful with an eye on helping the community at the same time."
"I read many positive reviews online about your organization and culture. You offer great incentives to keep people motivated, and it seems to be the type of fast-paced environment that values innovation and performance. My type of place!"
"Your website's information was very appealing, and I love the difference that you are making in the community. From what I have heard, you are a collaborative environment that values transparency and new ideas."
In which manner do you prefer to communicate - written or verbal? Discuss your preference with the interviewer and support your answer.
"I prefer verbal communication because I feel that with written communication, a lot can be misread due to lack of tone, fluctuation, expression and body language. I will always choose a face to face conversation whenever possible."
"I do not lean one way or another when it comes to verbal or written communication. Both are equally important to me. If I have to choose just one, I will choose written communication as one can always look back on written communication for reference."
"I like to leverage both methods of communications when dealing with business. Sometimes, situations call for verbal communications and other times, written. As a rule of thumb, I tend to practice verbal communications, with written follow up or vice versa. Utilizing multiple methods creates repetition and therefore, change."
Non-profit organizations are looking for multi-talented volunteers. The interviewer would like to know if you are the type of volunteer who would be proactive if you noticed room for change. Think of some ways you have made an impact at work. When you see something that could be improved, do you take action? Provide an example that shows you have a high level of engagement, and the required confidence to recommend a change.
"In my most recent position I suggested that we eliminate the use of fax machines by better utilizing our company technology and shared servers. I calculated the cost-savings for my boss, and it turns out that it saved us over $500/month on paper. Not to mention the environmental impact."
"In my previous role, I was responsible for merchandising our department's floor. I decided it would be more cohesive to also collaborate with the surrounding departments, and pitched the idea to the other managers and staff. They loved it, so I was responsible for leading a team to collaborate on a bi-weekly theme and work together to develop and execute that vision."
"In my most recent position, I implemented a work-share program when profits were declining. It was an answer to pending layoffs, and although it temporarily cut hours back for our warehouse staff, it saved us from having to make layoffs."
We all like to be recognized in some way for our accomplishments. Share with the interviewer how you would want to be known for your hard work.
"I am very much an over-achiever and find that the best way for me to be recognized for a job well done is to be given words of kindness and recognition. I am easily encouraged, and the best reward for me is to know that my hard work is being noticed."
"I am very simple. I do not require any formal recognition, but kind words from my supervisor will keep me motivated and working hard."
"I do not need recognition for my work. I truly want to be a volunteer so that I can help others. I am not looking for a pay-back."
The interviewer would like to know what methods and resources you used to search for volunteer opportunities so they can determine which of their methods is working best. You can expand your answer to include any other exposure you have had to the organization.
"I initially saw your posting on LinkedIn. However, I have been exposed to your organization many times before through your radio commercials and advertisements on Facebook."
"Word of mouth is the most powerful form of advertising! I was referred by a friend that works as a Volunteer Coordinator for you. We worked together many years back."
"I heard your CEO speak at a networking event and the organization sounded like a perfect fit, so I've been keeping my eye open for a volunteer opportunity here."
In general terms, volunteering is the practice of people working on behalf of others or a particular cause without payment for their time and services. Volunteering is generally considered an altruistic activity, intended to promote good or improve human quality of life, but people also volunteer for their own skill development, to meet others, to make contacts for possible employment, to have fun, and a variety of other reasons that could be considered self-serving.