Ask These 7 Questions When Interviewing for an Advocacy Job

Joy Ingram, March 1, 2024

You got called for the interview. You dressed for success (at least from the waist up) for the Zoom interview. You wowed the interview panel with your answers to all of their questions. And now, it’s your turn to let them show you that they’re as good for you as you are for them.  

“So, do you have any questions for us,” they ask. 

Of course, you do.  

When interviewing for any job, you should always ask your interviewer questions. Asking questions shows interviewers several things, including: 

  • You’re really interested in the job and not just seeking a paycheck, 
  • You’re inquisitive and willing to learn.  
  • You’re concerned about company culture and your ability to thrive in it.  
  • You’re considering if the company will be a good fit for you now and in the future. 

With that in mind, here are seven questions to ask when interviewing for an advocate position at a nonprofit organization. 

Image of a line of people standing on top of a building with the sun shining behind them. The light behind them turns the figures into silhouettes, so you cannot see their features. They all have their arms raised as if they are cheering.
  1. How do you measure success in this role? 

Success looks like different things to different people. While your interviewers may not be able to provide a specific rubric, they should give you a general picture of what you must do to succeed at the job.  

2. How is the position funded? 

Many nonprofit organizations pay their employees via grant funding. This funding can increase, decrease, or disappear depending on various factors, such as if the grant is renewed once the cycle ends, how much the grant is renewed for, and if the organization wants to continue to focus on the area to which your position relates. These changes can affect your salary and position. If the funds are cut and/or allocated to a different program, your salary may decrease, or your position could be cut.  

3. Who is my go-to person when I have questions or need assistance? 

This question tells the interviewer that you’re not a know-it-all and you understand that even if you’ve had this role at another agency for multiple years, you still need new information and help as you assimilate into the position here. Their answer will also tell you about the agency's culture. Is it only one person that you can turn to for help, or are there multiple people? Do they operate in silos or as a collaborative team? Also, if that person(s) is on the call, it gives you an opportunity to ask them specific questions about their collaboration, management, leadership, and teaching styles. 

4. Is this a new or existing position? If new, why was it created? If existing, why did the person who previously held the position leave?  

A new position means the organization is growing, restructuring, or both. New positions often bring great opportunities and challenges. You may even have the opportunity to create your own program in the position.   

If it’s not new, knowing why the previous person left is beneficial. If they were promoted, that’s an indicator of growth opportunities in the company. If they left because “they weren’t a good fit”, you’ll want to delve deeper into that by asking “How were they not a good fit?” or “What qualities would make me a good fit for this company and position?” 

5. Where do you see this organization 5 years from now?  

Often, interviewers will ask candidates where they see themselves in five years. 

It is perfectly fine for you to ask the interviewers the same thing. This will help you decide if you see potential growth with the company and in your career with them. Does their focus align with your values? Are they moving towards a future you want to be a part of?  

6. What types of professional growth and development programs do you offer?  

Do they offer tuition reimbursement for you to complete a degree or certificate program? If so, is it only for certain degrees (ex: counseling vs. communication)? Do they support you in attending trainings, workshops, and conferences in your field? By support, I mean paying for/providing transportation and lodging if needed. Will they purchase books for you to enhance your knowledge of relevant topics? Is their training ongoing, or does it get you to a certain point and stop? 

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7. What does the agency do to promote advocate wellness? 

As an advocate, you deal with difficult topics and situations that can deplete your mental and emotional wellness. Just as construction companies equip their workers with protective gear to keep them physically well due to the nature of the work, advocacy agencies should equip advocates with mental and emotional safety gear. Some ways that agencies can promote advocate wellness are: 

  • Mental health days 
  • EAP 
  • Employer-paid mental health services 
  • Time during the workday for self-care 
  • Company policies that promote self-care.  

Remember, the interview is a two-way street. You are there to gather as much information about how the agency can benefit you as they are to see how you can benefit them. So, be sure to ask specific, relevant, and meaningful questions. It’s a great way to help you decide if this could be your dream job or a work nightmare.

Need help landing the interview? Read our blog on How to Write a Resume and Captivating Cover Letter.