8 Insider Questions Every Social Sector Employer Will Ask You

By Surabhi Nijhawan 

In our previous articles, we have talked about how the social sector is booming with opportunities, and organisations are hiring for several positions. From project leaders to grant managers,  and research managers – the development sector requires all kinds of workforce. But getting through these jobs is not easy. The hiring process in the social sector is not only focused on your expertise. Recruiters evaluate you on your soft skills and your commitment to social causes.  Most importantly, all development focused organisations assess if you have the correct problem-solving skills.

Planning to apply for a job in a social sector organisation? Here are eight questions that you will be asked.

  • How passionate are you for the cause (or vision ) of the social sector organisation you are applying to?

When you are applying to a social sector organisation – it is assumed that you are aware of their vision and your ideas are aligned with the same. If a company is working to solve the problem of cleanliness, or sanitation – then they would want to know your opinion on the issue and why do you want to address it.

  • Do you know about the founder, board, the area of focus of the firm and their social impact or previous projects?


While doing your research on the organisation, it is essential to read about the founders and their mission. Thorough knowledge of their previous projects, their domain of work  and their social impact is a must. Most organisations share this information on their websites, and social media handles making it readily available. Additionally, knowing about the social impact created by the organisation is necessary.

  • How is your work experience relevant to the job?

Often, when candidates are looking for a shift from the corporate sector to the social sector, they are unsure about how their profile will fit in. Similarly, the organisation require convincing too.

An excellent way to start is to reflect on your profile and the job description and evaluate how your skills will be appropriate for the role.

For example, if you have experience in marketing or business development, then you will be a good hire for fundraising or if you have worked in the media previously, then communication and writing reports/proposals are the roles that will be appropriate for you.


  • Are you okay with the financials?

Salaries in the social sector are less as compared to the corporates, although the trend is slowly changing and established social ventures are willing to match the market rate for the right talent.  But every development sector organisation would want to know if you are okay with lesser salaries and pay cut to evaluate the drive?

  • Where does this role fit into your long-term plan or why social sector?

Hiring managers at a social sector organisation want to be convinced if you are someone who is keen to work in the organisation long-term [3-5 years]. This is because the social sector is suffering from a talent gap, and it is essential to hire someone who is a problem solver and culturally fits into the system. Thus, no matter how cliche this question is, you need to have an answer.

  • Are you good at multitasking?

Development sector is a project-centric workplace. Thus, when a candidate is selected for a project, they are expected to handle multiple activities: leading a team, communicating with the stakeholders, writing reports to operations. ‘Are you good at multitasking?’ is also a question that recruiters ask to understand your attitude towards work, deadlines and evaluate if you are a team player.

  • How entrepreneurial are you?

In the social sector, managers are expected to take the lead and develop projects from scratch. Work involves rolling up your sleeves and setting up the processes, building a team, measuring impact and more.  Thus, you have to convince the interviewee that you are capable of single-handedly managing extensive large scale assignments.

  • What is your geographical preference – urban or rural or both?

Many social development firms operate in the rural areas, often in under-developed towns working to improve infrastructure. At the same time, some of them work in urban areas or have projects in both cities and villages. Sometimes, people take up field jobs and quit after not being able to handle it. Thus, the questions about ‘working in the field’ is a crucial one. Every hiring manager will ask you to understand your enthusiasm and spirit and if you will be able to work in the rural areas.


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