How to Prepare for Agency Interviews

Part I: Reflecting on Discernment Conversations

Take a moment to sit in silence. To invite God into this very moment. To sit with all you have heard, experienced, and felt throughout your discernment. 

Pay attention to your body, what is happening inside you in this moment?  Is it question, doubt, or hesitation?  Is it excitement, energy, or fulfillment?  Is it a combination?    

Part of discernment is asking questions: 

What questions am I sitting with? 

What questions am I scared to ask myself? 

What questions am I hesitant to ask JVC staff? 

What questions do I need to have answered to make an informed decision? 

What questions am I comfortable with remaining unanswered? 

… and why? 

Imagine that you are a JV:
What aspects (of the JVC experience) am I excited to say ‘yes’ to? 

What aspects (of the JVC experience) bring me hesitation? 

What does this mean for my discernment? 

How can you continue to engage in my discernment process after having completed the application process (written application, interviews, surveys, discernment conversations)? 

Gwen McElhattan relfecting during Orientation. (2017)
Gwen McElhattan relfecting during Orientation. (2017)

Part II: Preparing for Interviews

As with any job interview, you should be prepared to learn as much as possible about the organization and your potenital role within it. Some questions include:  

Understanding the Agency
1. How long has your agency had a Jesuit Volunteer? What has worked well and/or been a challenge in the partnership between your agency and JVC? If this is the agency’s first year, what made you decide to request a volunteer?

2. How long has your agency been in your current location? Can you tell me more about the city/neighborhood of the agency? What is it like to live in? What are key strengths and justice issues of the city?

3. Describe the clients/guests you serve. How do the demographics of your clients represent the city/community in which you are located? How are they selected/chosen?

4. How many employees/volunteers does your agency have? How many locations make up the organization?

5. What is the most enjoyable thing about working for this organization?

6. What is the biggest challenge facing this organization? What is being done to address the challenge? What role, if any, would I be asked to play in assisting with the challenge?

Understanding the Job
1. Could you walk me through what a typical day might look like for someone in this position?

2. How do you approach supervision (hands-off, lots of direction, mentorship, etc.)? Will you be my day-to-day supervisor? What happens when you are out of the office?

3. What kind of training do you provide for this position?

4. Describe how you will evaluate my performance, including the measures/standards used in the evaluation process. Who will be doing the evaluation? How often will I receive feedback?

5. Could you describe the type of person who has been successful in this position? And the type of person who has not been as successful or fulfilled in this position?

6. Would there be others at the agency in a similar position to mine? What happens formally and informally to encourage co-workers to support each other?

7. How much opportunity for decision-making will I have in my first week/month on the job?

8. Can you describe your ideal candidate?

9. I am really interested in (type of work/ministry, population, setting, justice issue), but have not yet had as much opportunity for practical experience in it. How will the position you are offering help me in getting experience?

10. I’ve done weekly/monthly/a week immersion trip in this type of service – what do you think I might encounter that is similar and different in doing it as full-time service?

11. How much contact will I be having with people outside of the organization (e.g. students, parents, vendors, clients, etc.)? What kind of support do you provide a new employee during this type of outreach in terms of contacts and communications skills?

Starting as a new hire
1. If I were to be selected, what are some things I could do in advance of starting work to prepare for this position?

2. I am really interested in (type of work/ministry, population, setting, justice issue), but have not yet had as much opportunity for practical experience in it; what would you suggest I read/do/explore between now and August to be better prepared?

3. Are there opportunities on the job training? Additional education about justice issues?

4. Describe for me what my first day would be like. When would I start? Who would I meet? What would I need to bring?

5. (Only after asking a number of work-related questions feel free to ask): Can you tell me a bit about dress code, holidays/shutdowns, office environment, typical work hours, etc.?