The majority of what is written for job seekers about interviewing seems to be geared toward those who are seeking employment in a somewhat traditional, corporate environment. There is often reference to Human Resources departments and while many larger nonprofit organizations do have H.R. offices, many small ones do not. Additionally, nonprofit organizations may have less traditional structures and there may be a hiring committee or even a group of board members or volunteers who participate in vetting possible employees. Interviewing with a small nonprofit can be quite different from interviewing with a larger, more traditional, business or corporation.
Many corporations or established businesses have set interview questions or a process by which potential new hires must maneuver. Nonprofits have their own process but there may be less steps or layers to it, depending on the size of the organization. While you may interview with one person, after having worked in nonprofit organizations for over 25 years, I can honestly say that I have never been interviewed by only one person for any nonprofit job! It is almost always a hiring committee made up of coworkers, volunteers, board members and supervisors. In fact, for small organizations, it is often common to have a somewhat casual interview where other members of the team are looking for someone who will be a good fit for the overall environment and mission.
It can be tough for a potential employee to know WHO to try to impress when the decision is being made by consensus or vote. A good rule is to just be yourself and trust that not only will the group know if you are a good fit, but you will feel whether or not the environment is going to be good for you as well.
A nonprofit interview is likely to be less formal-unless you are applying for a large, national nonprofit or one that is established with many employees. You may even have an initial interview with the administrative department and then one with an actual program director or the supervisor or work team (or vice versa.) The process may be slower than one would expect from a more corporate environment but it can also be quick if the organization is flexible, efficient and small (or desperately in need of filling the position.)
It is important to ask questions and use the interview as an opportunity to find out as much as you can about how the organization works and operates. Feel free to ask questions but be respectful of the time constraints and the structure of the interview. It is your opportunity to determine if it is a fit for you too!
Also from this contributor:
Planning for Replacing Key Staff
Emergency Transitions in a Nonprofit Organization
Managing a Small Nonprofit is Like Managing a Small Business