The Fundrais­ing Recruit­ment Uni­verse — six tips for mas­ter­ing a video interview

Ryan Bur­dock of recruit­ment agency Prospec­tus gives expert advice on how to suc­ceed in your next vir­tu­al interview.

Written by
Ryan Burdock
April 22, 2021

At Prospectus, we conduct hundreds of remote interviews and other meetings using online platforms every year. We thought we would share our six top tips for successful video interviewing. 

Right now, fundraising recruitment is as busy as ever as we enter the new financial year, and it shows no signs of slowing down. Here’s what we’ve learned as a team supporting over one hundred fundraisers into fundraising positions remotely since April 2020. 

1. Remember the job description and role in question

You are interviewing for an important role in a society-changing organisation. Remember – above all the tech, interview format, and remote-working questions – why you are inspired by the organisation and what difference you can make. 

2. Your examples

Remind yourself of your amazing fundraising achievements and successes in preparation. What’s compelling about the outcome? Who of your non-fundraising colleagues were involved? What was the value in income of your fundraising win? What other impact can you talk about? 

Post-it notes with reminders of your achievements to prompt stories with figures are useful, and you’ll need to make sure you give the panel your best competency-based answers. Interviews are hard, interviewing remotely is harder but there are benefits. Help yourself out by not fully relying on memory and use your local environment to your advantage. 

3. Recruiters! Prepare and test the tech

You might not be familiar with remote interviews. Ensure your hardware and software are prepped before your meeting – otherwise you can spend the first five minutes trying to log on or adjusting settings and that does not create a smooth experience for either party. 

Think about the simple things like is your battery charged? Have you tried testing the links and sound/video quality with a colleague before sending externally? Do you have a strong internet connection? Whatever you do make sure you give the same advice to the candidate if you are sending the invitation to interview and, if you need to, provide them with links to set up guides.

There are a range of video calling platforms that you can use to conduct interviews – almost all have a free to use and premium version that offer different features. Candidates, ensure your tech is up to date and you have tested with a friend or family member beforehand. 

4. Set up your environment

What is the environment for your video interview? Hopefully it is a space where you can concentrate but this is not always the case. The last year has taught us that video meeting backgrounds are a fun talking point, but you can actually blur that out on most interview video platforms now. Ensure there isn’t a bright light above or behind you that could impact on the panel seeing you.

5. Embrace interruptions

We have seen a lot of guides that suggest you should try to control any and every interruption that could happen in an interview. This is simply not possible and whether it’s a dog barking, the doorbell ringing, or that lovely neighbour beginning a full-scale redevelopment of their whole property, work has been interrupted in so many ways over the last year. We advise you to embrace, acknowledge, and move forward after these interruption in your interview.  Make sure to apologise if things come up and ask for the current question to be repeated if necessary. 

6. Communicating your answers

Finally, whilst technology has improved a lot so the classic lag when making video calls is less of an issue then it used to be, it is still different to being in a room with someone. Make sure you are being clear and check in that the interviewer or interviewing panel understands you and hears you clearly both at the start and during the interview. If you’re the one doing the recruiting, check with the candidate that you have understood their answers correctly.

We have noticed also that candidates can tend to provide long answers that veer off their point more frequently, perhaps to really ensure their point is getting across. Our advice is to err on the side of a more succinct, shorter answer and finishing the point with a question like – could I expand on that for you, or would you like more detail?

For more insights on charity recruitment, please visit the Prospectus website

About the author: Ryan Burdock

Ryan Burdock is the Associate Director for the Fundraising team at recruitment specialists Prospectus, based in London, UK. Ryan’s career in the beyond profit sector began in Chicago, USA, where he recruited for a variety of fundraising and beyond profit positions. Ryan specialises in recruitment for homelessness, social enterprise and arts focused organisations. Passionate about social equality and opportunity, Ryan is a trustee of United AllStars, a sports engagement charity working with at-risk youth in Camberwell and Peckham to help them overcome social and economic barriers to success.

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