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The inside story: how to get a job at Amnesty International Australia

Ever wondered what hiring managers are looking for when they recruit for Australia’s most sought-after NFPs?

In this series, we interview the people who hire at the organisations where you want to work — and we’ll give you the inside knowledge you need to make your next job application amazing. 

This month we speak to Chelsea Cox, People & Culture Advisor at Amnesty International Australia–  an advocacy organisation working to protect and empower people by putting pressure on the government to adopt laws that respect the human rights of all citizens and to meet international human rights obligations.

(You can check out the roles Amnesty International Australia is currently advertising here) 

Hi Chelsea, thanks for chatting with us! To kick us off, can you tell us a bit about what Amnesty International Australia does?

Amnesty International Australia (AIA) is one of the world’s largest human rights advocacy organisations. Since 1961, we have been an independent, global movement that campaigns courageously for human rights for everyone, with more than ten million members and supporters around the world.

We’re ordinary people from all walks of life, standing together for justice, freedom, human dignity and equality. We use our passion and commitment to campaign on a number of key human rights issues including indigenous justice, refugee rights, LGBTQI+ rights, individuals at risk and anti-racism.

We’re independent of any government, political ideology, economic interest or religion to ensure we can speak out on human rights abuses wherever they occur.

What are some of the things that might attract candidates to apply to the Amnesty International Australia?

I think many candidates are motivated to apply for a role with AIA because they want to work for an organisation that aligns to their personal values. Our employees are dedicated, passionate individuals, united in the belief that together we can campaign for human rights impact and make a difference, no matter how incremental. 

At Amnesty, we empower people to be themselves within an inclusive and supportive environment. We support people to achieve their full potential, with opportunities for training, workplace learning and a strong commitment to professional development. 

We also offer a number of additional benefits including flexible working from home arrangements, flexible hours scheme, competitive remuneration with guaranteed pay increases and additional leave types such as study, cultural and community service leave.

Can you walk us through the recruitment process at Amnesty International Australia?

When submitting your application, we will ask you to upload your resume and cover letter, including your responses to the selection criteria for the role. Once the job ad has closed, we will create a shortlist of candidates we’d like to progress and contact them to arrange an interview. The final stage of the recruitment process is reference checks.

We aim to make the recruitment experience as transparent, fair and positive for our candidates as possible. If you are unsuccessful in obtaining a position you applied for, you will always be notified of the outcome and encouraged to apply for other suitable vacancies. 

What are the top things you look for when assessing a candidate application?

First and foremost, it’s important to have the basics right; addressing the right organisation and role, no major spelling errors, submitting both a cover letter and resume, keeping your application succinct and clear. 

As part of our application process, we ask candidates to submit their responses to our role-specific selection criteria. If a candidate does not address the selection criteria questions, it is immediately obvious that they haven’t read the job advert in full which demonstrates a lack of attention to detail. 

Otherwise, we are looking for you to highlight your relevant experience aligned to the role, as well as a clear passion for Amnesty and the work we do. 

What’s the most common mistake you see candidates make in their applications?

It is really clear to a hiring manager, when a candidate is looking for ‘a’ job and when a candidate is looking for ‘our’ job. Outlining why you want to work for us and demonstrating an understanding of what we do, our values and your alignment to these values is crucial. Highlight your relevant experience, including employment, volunteering, activism, internships and/or lived experience. A strong ‘why’ is often what separates candidates during the shortlisting process.   

And if they make it to interview, who is a candidate most likely to meet on an interview panel at Amnesty International Australia?

The direct line manager of the position and 1-2 other members of staff who work closely with this position will join you for your interview. These staff members may be from the same team, another line manager or a representative of our People & Culture team. We will always let you know who will be on the interview panel, as well as their position titles, and are committed to making any reasonable adjustments to the interview process for candidates with a disability or other access needs. 

What advice would you give candidates to improve their interview skills?

Our interviews are split into three parts: general questions about why you applied and your work history; technical questions sourced from the position description and behavioural questions to get a sense of your alignment to our culture and values. To set yourself up for success, it’s important that you prepare by reading the position description, familiarising yourself with our organisation and the work we do, and consider a few examples of your demonstrated experience. 

Interviewing can be a very stressful experience for many people but it is important to remember that we want you to succeed. During the interview, if you need us to repeat the question, pause for a few minutes, start the question again, please just ask. Whatever makes you the most comfortable makes us the most comfortable. 

Finally, what advice would you give to someone who wants to work at Amnesty International Australia but perhaps doesn’t have the right qualifications or experience?

We value all forms of experience, including employment, volunteering, becoming an activist, internships and lived experience. We want to see that you proactively live our values and are committed to challenging injustice. Many of our current staff members were at one point, volunteers or activists with us. 

Thanks Chelsea!

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