Interview questions you should be asking of aid organizations

Last week at happy hour, we found ourselves giving advice as to a budding aid worker who was about to have her first round of interviews for her first "real" aid job. She wanted to know what questions she should be asking of the organizations and people with which she's interviewing. These are the questions that one has to have ready, when inevitably interviewers say, "Now what questions do you have for us?"

She got some great suggestions from @oabello@gurrity@PatrickOdongosn, and now my readers can share them too, thanks to @marcmaxson who suggested this post. I hope these can be useful to those people hoping to determine the "right fit" with an organization's values, approach, and management style. Here's some of our ideas, in no particular order:

  1. How would you describe the organizational culture?
  2. If I were to be offered the position, what do you see me accomplishing in my first month? In the first six months?
  3. What other organizations would you consider to be your organization's peers? With which other organizations do you collaborate?
  4. What was the last book that you read related to your work?
  5. What mechanisms does your organization use to obtain feedback from the people you serve?
  6. How are strategic decisions made in the organization? And how are they communicated?
  7. How do you ensure community ownership of your programs?
  8. What are your organization's most promising or "provocative" programs?
  9. Do you consider your organization a learning organization? If so, how is this demonstrated?
  10. Do you think your organization offers something unique to the aid sector? What is it?
  11. How would you describe the relationship between programs and communications/marketing/fundraising?
  12. How has your organization changed over the last 2-5-10 years (as appropriate)?
  13. What is the most important piece of practical advice you would offer to someone starting on their first day on the job?
  14. How does your organization monitor what percentage of its financial resources reach the ground?
  15. How does this position contribute to the organization's overall mission?
  16. Others? Kindly share them via the comments!

And job seekers, if you're not yet following iOnPoverty's video series...well, you need to be. The latest video offers some great interview tips from Regina Starr Ridley of the Stanford Social Innovation Review. She highlights the importance of asking good questions!


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