How to describe your volunteer experience in an interview (With Examples)
Volunteering often entails performing unpaid work for a nonprofit organization, but the experience you gain from doing so can be helpful when you apply for paid positions. A great way to leverage volunteer experience in a job interview is to make the connection between the abilities you develop via voluntary work and the ones you’ll need to thrive in your chosen career. In this post, we’ll examine four crucial approaches to discussing your volunteer experience in job applications.
Why is it crucial to mention volunteer activity in an interview?
Volunteering allows you to get experience that will make you more competitive for a paid position. Interviews usually focus on prior employment history, so you may have an edge if you can provide more pertinent information about your volunteer experience. Any gaps in your resume or a lack of relevant paid experience can also be explained by your volunteer activity. Finally, volunteering can show a hiring manager that you have a sense of responsibility for your community, which is a quality that many companies look for in candidates.
How should you describe your volunteer activities?
Examples of how to respond to interview questions by citing your volunteer experience are provided below:
1. Use your volunteer work to highlight your experience in the profession you want to pursue.
Students and professionals frequently give their time to charities that are linked to their interests and areas of study. If you are involved in volunteer work relating to the role, such as with a professional association or nonprofit in the same industry, you can use your expertise in these groups to show the hiring manager that you have experience in the sector. You can bring up your volunteer work with a medical non-profit organization during a job interview for a position at a private medical facility, for example.
2. Cite concrete examples from your experiences to illustrate a pattern of achievement.
Keep a log of the tasks and initiatives you do while volunteering for the organization. These details could be brought up in an interview to show the hiring manager that you are capable of organizing and carrying out projects. Tell the hiring manager how your success in a volunteer endeavor was a reflection of your ability to succeed in a professional setting. To show the hiring manager your skills in project management and marketing, you could use the example of your successful fundraising campaign.
3. Make careful to include any leadership roles you have held while volunteering.
Volunteering can help you develop important leadership experience that may give you an edge in the interview process. Serving on a volunteer leadership board or in another leadership position can help you become more aware of the organization’s mission and develop abilities like prioritization and adaptability. Employers prefer candidates with prior leadership experience, especially if they can connect that experience to the post. Consider mentioning any volunteer leadership positions you have held and what you learned from them if a hiring manager asks about your previous experience in leadership.
4. Use your volunteer experience to highlight your soft talents
Even if it has nothing to do with the job you’re interviewing for, you can use your volunteer activity to show the hiring manager your soft skills. Characteristics like honesty, adaptability, and empathy are examples of soft talents that are personality-related. If you found that your volunteer work helped you develop soft skills like flexibility or creativity, discuss how you acquired them and how they might be applied to the role for the hiring manager.
Here are some sample interview questions and potential responses that showcase the candidate’s skills by referencing their volunteer experience:
What made you decide to work in child care?
Hiring managers could ask you this question to find out more about you as a candidate and determine how serious you are about the job. This is the ideal time to mention any pertinent volunteer work and to convince the hiring manager of your enthusiasm for the position. When answering this question, please give a brief explanation of how your engagement in volunteer work motivated you to pursue this job.
Example: “I became interested in the daycare sector when I was a college student. Over the break after my first semester, I helped at a summer camp for young children, and I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed the challenge of helping the children in my care improve their self-confidence and skills. As a result of the experience, I made the decision to major in early childhood education and pursue a career in childcare.”
How long have you been an administrative support professional?
When you apply for a job, hiring managers typically enquire about your experience. If your volunteer experience satisfies the position’s standards, you can use it in place of paid work experience. In your answer to this question, please specify the precise responsibilities you carried out in your volunteer capacity and discuss how they matched the demands of the position.
Example: “I’ve worked as the president’s administrative assistant at the non-profit organization for animal rescue in my community for the previous two years. I started volunteering at the shelter because I like animals, but I quickly realized that I really like office work. Working in this role for the rescue has taught me how to manage incoming and outgoing correspondence, plan business budgets, and use standard administrative software.”
Tell about a time when you were in charge of a collective project. What did you learn from the experience?
This investigation aims to evaluate leadership, a vital soft skill. You can utilize volunteer experience to address this question because soft skills are transferable to a range of jobs. When answering this question, be clear about the lessons you learned from the event and explain how these skills contribute to your suitability for the job.
Example: “As volunteer coordinator at my local library, I recently planned a month-long celebration of young adult literature. While part of my employment, I had to supervise a group of volunteers as they created presentations about their favorite books and authors. It was my duty as their mentor to see that they had all they required and to assist them in organizing their events. I learned a lot from this experience about effective mentorship, time management, and communication.”
What best defines your working style?
With the help of this question, the hiring manager can decide if you’d be a suitable fit for their company. Given that it is a soft skill question, you can reply with either paid job or volunteer work, whichever is most appropriate for the role. When answering this question, take into account the requirements of the role, and be sure to provide specific examples from your volunteer experience.
Example: “*Although I can function well in a group setting, I discover that being able to work alone and choose a course of action yields the best outcomes. I used to love to sit down every morning with my themes listed and spend the morning deciding how to best present each piece of information when I volunteered to write blog articles for a veterans’ support group “*