Questions about community involvement are common in interviews, and for good reason: being engaged with a community (or communities!) demonstrates maintaining and building relationships.
In your interview, you should be prepared to explain what sorts of activities you have participated in, your contributions, and what were the most positive and most difficult aspects of the experiences for you. You should also be ready to talk about how your community participation has shaped you as a person and prepared you for the job you are interviewing for.
When you meet with an interviewer in person, you have the opportunity to show while you tell. Since stories communicate ideas in a memorable way, you can illustrate your experiences in community engagement with narrative examples.
Showing Your Skills
Try to capture key moments in your story that highlight a relevant skill for the job you want. Here are some examples:
- Does the job require leadership qualities? Tell a story about the time you organized a powwow for your Indigenous students association.
- Does the job require creativity or abstract thinking? Tell a story about a time you worked in a team to develop a workshop on cultural appropriation for non-Aboriginal students on campus.
- Does the job require time-management skills? Tell a story about a time you arranged a holiday toy drive while also studying for your end-of-term exams.
- Ask yourself: What are some key experiences that define who you are? What moments stand out to you when you think about your life narrative? Try to come up with a list of stories that showcase your best qualities.
Showing Your Personality
Your background defines who you are. Use your most distinctive qualities to answer questions that target your personal fit with the workplace and the job.
Your resume might not capture informal skills or knowledge connected to specific jobs or volunteer positions. In an interview, you can showcase these parts of yourself as you describe how you have operated in different situations.
Before your interview, prepare answers for possible question about what you have to offer. You might consider how you build relationships with your co-workers. For example, do you have any traits that make you a strong team member? Demonstrating that you have been active in your community shows how you work well with others. Similarly, you might be able to illustrate how you would resolve conflict in the workplace through your experiences working with community members.
Showing Your Passion
An interview is your chance to relate experiences that help define you. Not only are you shaping an image of who you will be in this job, but you are also expressing how you feel about the work involved in this job. Find ways to show your enthusiasm.
Involvement in your community provides you with a particularly versatile set of experiences to highlight. For example, you might show how much you care about group achievements, like when your Aboriginal Students Association sent 274 letters to Members of Parliament for Have A Heart Day. Explain how your group work ethic will shape your performance at this job. Or, you might illustrate the personal satisfaction you get from taking on leadership responsibilities, like supervising cultural programming for younger children at your local friendship centre. Show how your definition of leadership is relevant to what this employer needs.
If a potential employer asks why you want the job, what would you say? Back up your enthusiasm with research about the company and the type of work you will be doing within that role. You need to know why the company should want you there, and be able to say why you want to be there.