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How to approach phone interviews on volunteering roles?

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Many volunteering roles require a Zoom or phone interview. What are some great tips and tricks to keep in mind while on the phone. What should we not mention in any phone interview. Adding a small script to say in order to introduce yourself would be great. Thank you!
#interviews #career #career #first-job #job-application

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19 answers

John’s Answer

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So you have the basics down George. You’ve studied the company’s website, you have a few interview examples, and you already planned what you’ll wear to the job interview.

8 COMMON INTERVIEW MISTAKES TO AVOID

1.) DRESS INAPPROPRIATELY – Looking put together signals that you care about the interview and want to put your best foot forward. However, all too often I've had candidates show up to an interview appearing rumpled, wrinkled, stained and wearing clothes that don’t quite fit.

2.) TALKING TO MUCH – This one is huge. Every hiring manager wants to hire someone that is self aware. There is nothing much worse than interviewing someone who goes on and on. We really doesn't need to know your whole life story. Keep your answers succinct, to-the-point and focused and don't ramble—simply answer the question. Don't get sidetracked and start talking about your personal life. Keep your responses to a reasonable length. Don’t ramble forever and don’t tell them everything about you. Sell yourself. And try to do it in less than 2 1/2 minutes.

3.) PAY ATTENTION – Don't ask “can you repeat the question.” It comes across either an inability to listen, retain information, or simply as a stalling tactic. Don't let yourself zone out during an interview. Make sure you are well-rested, alert, and prepared. Getting distracted and missing a question looks bad on your part. If you zone out, we will wonder how you will be able to stay focused during a day on the job, if you can't even focus during one.

4.) LISTEN TO THE QUESTIONS – I often I hear some really interesting responses to my questions and examples of work that a candidate has done. Unfortunately, a lot of those same stories didn’t answer my question. Don’t wait for us to ask the exact, perfect question to set you up for prepared answer, either. Answer our questions, but add in what you know they’re looking for. If we ask you to describe a development area or a weakness, Don’t say things like “I work too hard “or “I’m too much of a perfectionist.” Take advantage of the opportunity and take control of the interview here.

5.) BE PREPARED – The last thing you want is to try to cram the night before an interview. Trust me, it won’t be your best work. It’s super hard to remember all the great things you’ve done, all the great work you’ve accomplished while you’re also stressing over what to wear. As soon as you know you have an interview, start preparing. Don't let yourself be caught off guard. Prepare for your interview by reviewing questions to expect and how to answer them.

6.) DO YOUR HOMEWORK – Don't let your potential employer stump you with the question, "What do you know about this company?" It's one of the easiest questions to ace, if only you do some research before your interview. Background information including company history, locations, divisions and a mission statement are available in an "About Us" section on most company websites. Review it ahead of time, then print it out and read it over just before your interview to refresh your memory. Also check the company's LinkedIn page, Facebook page, and Twitter feed, if they have one.

7.) WASTED OPPORTUNITY – Many time I've heard “No, I don’t think I have any questions” REALLY? Before you even get an interview, you know they’re going to give you time to ask questions. And you get to control that time since you are the one asking the questions. One final note here: please avoid asking a lay-up question like “What is the job like?” or “What are you looking for in a candidate for this role?” These questions tell me you were not prepared for this interview.

8.) DO OVER – Some job opportunities can't be saved, but depending on the circumstances, you may be able to convince the employer to reconsider you. Not all employers have the time or resources for a "do-over," but you might be lucky and find one who does understand that stuff happens and everyone can have a bad day. If you think you flunked an interview, take the time to shoot us an email explaining your circumstances and thanking them for the opportunity to interview.

Hope this was Helpful George.
Than You Tyler. “Our generation has the ability and the responsibility to make our ever-more connected world a more hopeful, stable and peaceful place.” — Natalie Portman John Frick Translate
I just got on the phone from my interview, it went amazingly well. I managed to see you response minutes before the interview. These tips helped me a lot. The interviewer was even impress of my communication skills at such a young age George S. Translate
That is Fantastic George, Congratulations. TWO SUGGESTIONS 1. KEEP RECORDS – Write up a summary of the questions you were asked along with your answers. This will preserve a record of your responses for future reference if you secure a follow-up interview. Also, note anything you wish you had said to your interviewer, that way, if you get a second interview, you can make a note to mention these items. 2. FOLLOW–UP – Decisions about candidates are often made quickly, so it's important to send your follow-up email soon as possible. You want your interviewer to remember you and these follow-ups can make a good impression. The follow-up email doesn’t have to be long. Keep it succinct, thank the interviewer for taking the time to speak with you. John Frick Translate
Wow, John, you are definitely providing gems to us at such a young age! Thank you for your efforts, I can't thank you enough for being an active member of this community, and helping out lost students like me! Aun M. Translate
You are Welcome Aun, It is my Pleasure. Allow me to express my sincerest gratitude for this opportunity you have given me. I am eternally grateful for the trust you have put in me and will continue to work hard to maintain it. John Frick Translate
Thank You Dexter for Your Continued Support. “Volunteers are the only human beings on the face of the earth who reflect this nation’s compassion, unselfish caring, patience, and just plain loving one another.” – Erma Bombeck John Frick Translate
You are Welcome George, I read you got the volunteering role. The more we praise and celebrate life, the more there is in life to celebrate. John Frick Translate
Than You Katherine. “Help one another. There’s no time like the present, and no present like the time.” – James Durst John Frick Translate
Thank You Michael. “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” — William Shakespeare John Frick Translate
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Sharon’s Answer

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Hi George. I suggest you treat Zoom and phone interviews just like you're doing an in person interview. Be on-time! Being a few minutes early is even better. Dress business casual and be well-groomed, sit up - don't slouch. Make sure there are no distractions - you need to give the interviewer your undivided attention. Turn off the TV, radio, etc. Inform any family members who may be at home during your interview to not disturb you and to keep noise levels down. I've had issues where my dogs were barking outside and the person on the other end of the phone could hear it. During your interview be very professional and polite - you feel better when you're smiling, even if it's over the phone. Write down any questions you may want to ask ahead of time. Also, research the company/organization and mention something about them during the interview - maybe have their mission statement on hand or stats from their volunteer efforts. This will let them know that you are really interested and not just submitting for everything online. Be yourself and make sure you let the interviewer know what you have to offer as an employee/volunteer.
Thank you I got my volunteering role!!!!!! George S. Translate
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Abby’s Answer

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For any interview (even on the phone) dressing formally can help get you in "interview mode" and feel more confident and prepared as a result. Going into the interview, have a clear idea of your own story and how your experiences and values align with the organization. A question that's often difficult to answer is "Tell me about yourself" since it's so broad, but a lot of interviewers open with this question. I would suggest breaking down your experiences into those that are most relevant and recent and also be able to succinctly describe who you are and your soft skills. Thinking about your experiences and personality as a whole allows you to address how you can add value to the organization.

Additionally, for phone interviews, I like to stand up when doing them or even standing in front of a mirror to help yourself sound relaxed, rather than straight reading from answers you wrote down. On the other hand, phone interviews are a great opportunity to have organized notes available to reference on the organization, job description, and your professional experiences!
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Victoria’s Answer

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Just like with any interview, it is important to dress appropriately to meet the interviewer’s expectations, this is often, but not always, smart office wear. You want to come across as a good cultural fit for the organisation.

Showing passion for the role is important for any sector, but arguably even more so for a position at a not-for-profit. I also completely agree with others’ advice that you must do your prep work for the interview. Try and read beyond the website so that you can really wow the interviewer. Perhaps you could mention events they have run that received news coverage or by commenting on the impact of their social media presence or posts, for example.

When answering questions demonstrate how your skills and previous experience will make you a good fit for the role, which includes relevant experience doing charity work and transferable skills from other jobs/education. Techniques such as STAR can help you to structure your answers.

Good luck!
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Kimberly’s Answer

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Hi George,

Great question. I would suggest preparing for a zoom interview the same way you would for an in-person interview. Have a list of notes handy to reference, but don't let them know you have notes out.
Notes to Include:
-Your daily responsibilities in your current job or volunteer experience
-Why you would be a good fit for the role
-Strengths and weaknesses
-What you like about their company
-How you can see yourself fitting in there
-Why you want the job
Just having those next to year can serve as a great safety net and give you extra confidence. Also research the people that will be interviewing you. Take the information you find about them and keep it in your back pocket. If you can get them talking about themselves and the interview feels more like a conversation, then that is a very good sing. Also, just be yourself and have no regrets.
Good luck!
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Philip’s Answer

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In addition to the comments by others, I would say follow some basic tips for all interviews:
1. Present yourself as Professional - dress neatly, quiet area, good background, test your technology and smile.
2. Be Prepared - study for the area you are interviewing, study the company and prepare some of the common interview questions.
3. Be Honest and Open - answer the questions to the best of your ability and when you don't know a specific answer then admit it but try to communicate something similar and that shows what you do know.
4. Follow-up - thank the interview afterwards to show you are interested in the position and their time.
I hope this helps and I wish you all the best for your future endeavors.

Philip recommends the following next steps:

  • Read online about virtual interview "best practices". There is a lot of stuff out there.
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Riley’s Answer

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If you end up doing a zoom interview, my first tip would be to dress as if you were going to a real interview! Comb your hair neatly, wear a button-down or polo shirt; people like to see a clean-cut look for interviews because it shows you care. As for some questions to ask, I would suggest asking what type of jobs you will be responsible for, what your possible hours would look like, etc. When you introduce yourself, you should start by just saying your name and age, maybe where you are attending high school or college, and why you chose to apply to volunteer at this specific organization.

Riley recommends the following next steps:

  • Don't forget to smile!
Thank you I started my phone interview by stating my name, age and high school. I felt so confident and excitied!!!!! George S. Translate
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Cristal’s Answer

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I agree with everything everyone mentioned above! I would like to add as a reminder for in person as well as virtual interview: remember, your interviewer is also a person, so talk to them like they are one and try to be personable! They all have interests and personalities and I find that having an "Interests" section in my resume really warms up the interviewer when we start chatting, especially if we have similar interests.
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Rosemary’s Answer

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You would want to treat discussing volunteer work similar to a role at a paying job. Be prepared to discuss what you did there, what the work was about, why you were motivated to work there and what you accomplished. Look up the STAR method of interviewing and be prepared to talk about specific examples of the work you performed. What the SITUATION was, the TASKS needed to accomplish ACTIONS you took and RESULTS. You want to tell a story about what you did.
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Blake’s Answer

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Hey George,

I would say that one of the most important things about a zoom interview in particular would be "background noise". It is very distracting on either side of the interview to hear talking, television, etc. in the background. I would recommend a place where there is no one around so that you can easily be heard and hear the questions that you are being asked. For Zoom in particular, I prefer the actual video option so that facial expressions can be seen to further understand answers and questions.

Thanks,
Blake
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Tammy’s Answer

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Treat the Zoom or phone interview as you would an in person interview. First, make sure to take the call in a private location with strong reception or Wifi. That way there are no interruptions with connections. Make sure to answer the phone with a professional engagement. I also suggest having your resume or cover letter handy for reference in experience. For Zoom calls, make sure you are in a private setting with minimal distraction in the background. Practice looking into the camera lens and ensuring that you can maintain eye contact on the monitor. Make sure to dress appropriately if you are on Zoom and log on early enough in case there are computer errors. Study your potential employer before hand, so you are able to really engage in their company as well as comparing your experience. Allow yourself time to think when you are answering questions and be specific with your examples of experience.
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Brett’s Answer

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Hello,
The most important aspects I feel when doing an interview especially on zoom, is to dress appropriately, a button up and tie is always nice. And I read someone elses response that also mentions minimum background distraction. I would agree with that. As far as conversational points go, be yourself, and most importantly be honest. Let them know why you want the position, and what your strengths are. A lot of interviews feel awkward and can be intimidating. Do your best to answer the questions they ask and do not be afraid to tell them you may not have the answer. For instance if asked if you have experience with a certain program or if you have a certain skill, it is ok to say that you do not. It is far better than lying and saying you do and then when they ask further they find out its obvious you may not. Ask questions like "what does a typical day look like for this position". Stay away from financial questions such as "How much do I make per hour?". I always tended to start off with something simple like. "Hello, My name is..... thank you so much for taking the time to interview for this position. I am excited for the opportunity to speak more with you." They may lead in with questions or you can begin by discussing what drew your attention to the job. Hope all of this helps. Good luck!
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Bruce’s Answer

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Lots of good info here and a few more tips:

1. Practice with a friend and record your meeting to listen back afterwards
2. George mentioned "Listen" - really really important !
3. If you find you are unsuccessful, ask for feedback on area you can improve upon for next time

Good Luck

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M. Cristina’s Answer

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You've had some fantastic answers to this question! I concur: Treat this as an in-person interview. Be fully prepared, as though you were going to meet the interviewer face-to-face. The only difference is that you will be talking to them through a device. Having said that, there are other things to consider when it comes to video interviewing. Here are my tips:

1. Maintain eye-level with the camera.
If you are using a laptop, stack some books underneath your machine so that the camera is at eye-level with you. That way, it appears that you are making eye contact with the interviewer. If you are using your mobile device, your setup may include more than just a stack of books, but the premise is the same - give the semblance of eye contact. Many people make the mistake of having their camera too low or too high, which creates strange-looking or unflattering angles, and it also makes it seem like they aren't looking at the interviewer.

2. Dress in darker colors with few designs.
A plain, dark-colored top shows up best via Zoom, particularly if it isn't a "loud" top (meaning, it should be plain or have a simple pattern). Don't wear white in front of a camera; it just doesn't show up well.

3. Ensure you have ample, flattering lighting.
You want the light source to be in front of you, not behind you. Don't have a bright window at your back; you will just look like a ghostly silhouette! Try your best to have a light source in front of your face so that it illuminates your features. Camera lenses don't work as real human eyes do. If it's a dark day, and I have a Zoom meeting or class to teach, I will use 3 lamps: one offset to the left, one offset to the right, and one in front of me. It seems like "overkill" but on Zoom, it's the only way to ensure the other people can see me without my looking sallow or grey.

4. Make sure the background is appropriate.
Not all of us have office spaces just for video calls (I sure don't), so it's important to ensure that whatever is behind you is clean, tidy, and free of anything that you wouldn't want your potential future supervisor to see. Kick that dirty pile of laundry off-camera, straighten the books on your shelf, put your dirty dishes away, etc. I'm going, to be honest; the background of my "office" (corner of bedroom) looks fantastic, but just off-camera is where the truth resides: Laundry, too many pillows, pile of unfinished DIY projects. As long as what is being shown on camera is professional-looking, though, no one will know.

5. Avoid distractions.
Interviewing from home has some unique challenges. The last thing you want to have happen in the middle of your interview is for your mom to loudly knock on the door and ask what you want for dinner, your cat to walk across the screen, or your phone to start ringing. Make sure that anyone you live with is aware that you are having an interview; put a sign on your door, if you can. Keep the animals in another room. Turn your phone off or "do not disturb" mode. Do whatever it takes to ensure you are not interrupted during your interview. Some things are out of our control, but do what you can to minimize distractions within your locus of control.

6. Warm up!
You know that froggy sounding voice we have when we first get up in the morning? That isn't a great interview voice. If you haven't spoken to anyone all day, or your interview is bright and early, make sure you "warm up" by doing a few minutes of stretches loosen yourself up physically, and practice saying a few tongue twisters. You may feel silly doing these things, but it will relax you and get your voice and posture in much better shape for your interview.


I don't anticipate that employers will move away from video interviewing any time soon, so it's best that job-seekers adapt to the evolving nature of the working world. These 6 tips (and I'm sure others can think of more) will ensure that you will put your best remote-foot forward during your video interview. Good luck!

M. Cristina recommends the following next steps:

  • Adjust your device's camera so that you maintain eye-level.
  • Dress in plain tops; darker colors work best. Avoid wearing white on camera!
  • Ensure you have ample, flattering lighting. Light source should never be behind you.
  • Clean up your background. Avoid distractions.
  • Warm up!
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Rosemary’s Answer

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You would want to treat discussing volunteer work similar to a role at a paying job. Be prepared to discuss what you did there, what the work was about, why you were motivated to work there and what you accomplished. Look up the STAR method of interviewing and be prepared to talk about specific examples of the work you performed. What the SITUATION was, the TASKS needed to accomplish ACTIONS you took and RESULTS. You want to tell a story about what you did.
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Brett’s Answer

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Updated Translate
Hello,
The most important aspects I feel when doing an interview especially on zoom, is to dress appropriately, a button up and tie is always nice. And I read someone elses response that also mentions minimum background distraction. I would agree with that. As far as conversational points go, be yourself, and most importantly be honest. Let them know why you want the position, and what your strengths are. A lot of interviews feel awkward and can be intimidating. Do your best to answer the questions they ask and do not be afraid to tell them you may not have the answer. For instance if asked if you have experience with a certain program or if you have a certain skill, it is ok to say that you do not. It is far better than lying and saying you do and then when they ask further they find out its obvious you may not. Ask questions like "what does a typical day look like for this position". Stay away from financial questions such as "How much do I make per hour?". I always tended to start off with something simple like. "Hello, My name is..... thank you so much for taking the time to interview for this position. I am excited for the opportunity to speak more with you." They may lead in with questions or you can begin by discussing what drew your attention to the job. Hope all of this helps. Good luck!
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Katrina’s Answer

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Excellent advice here already! I would add that you want to do your research on the company or organization you are interviewing with and if you have the name of the interviewer, look them up on LinkedIn ahead of time. It is ok and perfectly normal to be nervous - look into the camera and breathe. Ask when a decision will be made or if there is an appropriate time for you to followup on the position.

One important step that will set you apart from other candidates is to send a thank you email - ask for the interviewer's email address and send your thank you within 24 hours of the call. Be brief but specific in your note, calling attention to your skills related to the position and your continued interest in the role and say thank you.

If you say you are going to followup within a certain time frame, be sure to do it. Do what you say you will do.

Best of luck to you!
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Jess’s Answer

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- Try to sound confident and passionate (some people tend to be monotone on the phone)
- Express your honest interest
- Dress appropriately
- Do your research
- Find a quiet space for your interview
- Ask questions
- Follow up with a thank you email after
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Juhi’s Answer

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Hi George,

I think the best thing when interviewing for a volunteer role is to make sure you have great reasoning as to why you are passionate about volunteering with the organization. I used to volunteer at a hospital through high school and when they interviewed me they checked if I had the personality to help effectively in a hospital. They were looking for candidates who were passionate about helping people, kind and worked well in a stressful situation.

Every volunteering program has a goals and values that they uphold so I would practice a narrative about how you fit right in. Most volunteering programs will ask what interested in you in joining and having a personal story explaining your passion can help as well! If you don't have a personal story then you should do research on the cause or show passion towards being the industry in the interview.

Good luck!

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