Are you preparing for a grant writer interview? You've come to the right place.
A grant proposal is part of the application process for securing financial grants from the federal government or other grant-awarding institutions. Grant writers create grant proposals or grant applications and play a key role in securing financial grants for their organizations.
The interview is a critical part of the hiring process. Even though the educational background and experience listed on your resume are important, the interview allows the hiring manager to meet and really get to know you.
During interviews, most hiring managers are interested in learning three things about you:
- Your personal background, personality, and character as a professional.
- Your experience in the field of grant writing.
- The value you would bring to the organization as a grant writer.
The most common grant writer interview questions all help recruiters unearth insights into these three categories.
In this guide, we have compiled a list of the most important grant writer interview questions and answers. The actual questions asked you get asked will vary from interview to interview. Think of this guide as a resource that will help you as you prepare for landing your dream grant writing job.
Two quick pieces of advice about answering questions in general:
- Understand the question intent: every question has an intent, a “question behind the question”. If you understand the question's intent, then you can give a great answer.
- Treat every question as an opportunity: once you understand the question's intent, then you can answer every question in a way that builds your credibility and convinces the interviewer that you are the right person for the job.
We have divided interview questions into the following categories:
- General Questions
- Grant Writing Process Questions.
Let's get started.
Grant Writer Interview Questions: General Questions
Most interviews start with some general questions. The purpose of these questions is for the interviewer to learn more about you and why you applied for the grant writing position.
1. Tell us about your experience with writing grants
This is an open-ended question designed to get to know you better. One important thing to keep in mind is that you don't only have to restrict yourself to grant writing. Treat this question as an opportunity to market yourself and increase your credibility.
If you are a professional grant writer with a lot of experience, then you can share many details about your previous experiences. You can share details about the organizations and industry sectors you have worked for, the types of funding organizations you dealt with, your successes and challenges faced, and how you overcame them.
It is probable that skills in other forms of writing will be valuable for the hiring organization. If you have previous experience in technical writing or copywriting for example, then you can share that as well.
Since this is an open-ended question that does not deal with a specified aspect of grant writing, it gives you a lot of flexibility in how you choose to answer it. So use it to your advantage to build credibility.
2. How do you handle deadlines for multiple projects?
As a grant writer, you will most likely be working on multiple projects at the same time. And you will have to attend meetings, give presentations, meet representatives of funding organizations, and do so many other things, all at the same time.
Even if you are not an experienced grant writer, knowing how to manage multiple things at the same time is part of life. That's just how life is!
Through this question, the hiring manager wants to know how your process for prioritizing, organizing, and maintaining an efficient workflow.
If you are an experienced grant writer, then you will have developed systems that allow you to work on and manage multiple projects. You can share relevant details of your systems, such as preferred project management tools. You can share your reasons for using these tools, and also how you use them for maximizing efficiency.
If you are applying for an entry-level position and lack experience, then you can share the systems you used while managing multiple priorities during your academic career.
Grant Writer Interview Questions: Grant Writing Process Questions
Here is our list of interview questions specifically related to the grant writing process.
1. What is your grant writing process?
Professionals develop systems or processes for everything they do. Processes help to break down larger tasks into smaller and more manageable entities.
Experienced grant writers should not have any trouble answering this question. However, if you lack experience, then at least knowing about a typical grant writing process will demonstrate that you have prepared for the interview. A demonstration of proper preparation builds credibility like nothing else.
The basic grant writing process is
- Research: this is the most important part of the grant writing process. Grant writers have to conduct research about grant prospects and interview key stakeholders and project team members.
- Plan: after you've done all the necessary research, it's time to make a plan for the grant proposal. You’ll need to carefully follow the exact instructions about proposals from the grant-awarding institution to which you are applying. Based on these instructions you will create a plan or outline for the grant proposal.
- Write and submit: once the plan is ready, it's time to write the grant proposal. Having a detailed plan in place makes writing easier, as you know exactly what you have to write and how the different parts of the proposal fit together. After writing and reviewing, it's time to get the proposal approved. After you've made the changes (if required), it's time to submit the proposal to the grant-awarding institution.
- Follow-up: after making the submission you have to follow up with the grant-awarding institution, and answer any questions and queries they may have.
2. How would you describe your review process?
Once the proposal is ready, it must be reviewed to make sure that there are no errors and all important elements are in place.
A good review process is comprised of a checklist of curated items that need review and re-checking. Furthermore proofreading the entire proposal a few times is also important.
You can share your review process, and how you ensure that the proposal preparation and review processes are completed well before the submission deadline.
3. What is your process for improving grant writing skills?
Many avenues are available for learning and skill improvement including certifications, online and in-person courses, industry publications, and guidance from peers and mentors.
This is an important question. You can use it to your advantage by sharing how you have improved your skills over the years. You can also share your plan for continued improvement in the future.
Interviews usually cause a lot of stress. That's because we look at interviews as an event, the outcome of which might be a success or a failure.
The way to deal with this unnecessary stress is a change of mindset. Rather than treating an interview as an event, treat it as a process, specifically as a learning process.
You will be interviewed multiple times during the course of your career. And you will also conduct multiple interviews during your career.
When you see interviews as opportunities for learning, then you've got nothing to lose.
When you sit for an interview, the hiring manager asks questions to learn about you and get to know you better. At the same time, you also learn about the organization that you are interviewing for: its people, culture, and the myriad factors that make up an organization.
If you are offered the job, then what you learn during the interview gives you the opportunity to make an informed decision. Even if you don’t get the job, you will learn many things that will help you in other interviews and in your career. You will also learn many things that come in handy when you yourself have to conduct interviews.
After the interview, and irrespective of its outcome, it's a good idea to conduct a self-review. So after each interview, ask yourself these questions:
- What did I do right?: some things will come to mind when you ask this question. These are your strong points. They can be improved, but maybe it’s better to focus on your weak points.
- What needs improvement?: some things will come to mind when you ask this question. These are your weak points. And it’s up to you to work on them so that you give better interviews in the future.
So keep learning, and keep growing.
What is the average grant writer salary?
According to Glassdoor, the estimated average salary for grant writers in the US is $66,287. The average salary range is $38,000 to $119,000. Grant writers working in cities like Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco, and New York City are paid higher salaries.
Josh is the founder of Technical Writer HQ and Squibler, a writing software. He had his first job in technical writing for a video editing software company in 2014. Since then, he has written several books on software documentation, personal branding, and computer hacking. You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.