Talking Volunteerism In an Interview

health care job

It always can be a tricky proposition when deciding how to present yourself during a job interview. What to talk about and when. It’s no different when interviewing for a health care job.

One of the trickiest aspects to bring up is ones volunteer work. Should you bring it up at all? If so, when during an interview is it most appropriate? Does it depend on actual work experience? The quality and quantity of the community volunteer work?

When interviewing for a health care job, the general consensus is that it’s a good idea to mention volunteerism. This especially is true if it’s in the context of the health care job for which you’re applying. But, to get a better perspective on this, we reached out to a couple of our Concorde resident experts – graduate employment specialists – for their opinions on how best to broach the subject of volunteerism when interviewing for a health care job.

Volunteerism when interviewing for a health care job

“Volunteering can be a game changer for those with little or no experience,” said Robert Gruber, Graduate Employment Specialist at Concorde’s campus in North Hollywood, Calif. “If an employer can’t decide between two candidates, and volunteering is on the resume or brought up in the interview, the employer may just lean toward the one with volunteer experience.”

Gruber said volunteer experience reveals a lot about a person’s life and values.

  • People that volunteer tend to appear to have their lives together enough to be thinking of others.
  • They not only have compassion for others but feel compelled to take action.
  • They take action where action is needed and without material compensation.
  • People that volunteer are considerate of others, not thinking about what’s in it for them.
  • They are unusually optimistic, acting in a way to make the world a better place.

Gruber said the subject of volunteering can come up any time during an interview for a health care job.

“If I didn’t have much work experience, I might bring it up in response to the ‘Tell me about yourself’ question,” he said. “If it doesn’t feel right, I would offer it when the subject of work experience comes up. I may even offer how it prepared me to be a great candidate for the health care job.”

Showing your passion for the health care job

“Volunteering can be a way to gain some related job experience, a way to express your passion to meet a particular need and a way to give your life balance,” said Joan Kilna, BHRM, Graduate Employment Specialist at Concorde’s campus in Portland, Ore. “Putting volunteer experience on a resume can also express all of these things.”

Kilna stresses to focus on transferable skills learned while volunteering that can be used on the health care job. For example, a medical assistant who is interested in pediatric care and who volunteers at the local children’s hospital is reinforcing desired career goals.

“During the interview, treat your volunteer experience as equal with your work or externship experience,” Kilna said.

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