What did I learn from having a job interview with Greenpeace?

When I moved from Shanghai to Oslo, I applied for a lot of jobs in my home country Norway. One of them was a very interesting position at Greenpeace. After being heavily involved in the recruitment process of the largest climate activist group in the world, I thought that my experience would deserve its an article.

With more than 3600 employees worldwide, Greenpeace is constantly aiming to hire skilfull people. If you read this article, there is a huge chance that you have been called in for an interview at Greenpeace (or at least thinking about applying for a position). In this article, I will tell you everything I learned from the whole process.

Believe me: this is a *must-read* if you ever walk into a hiring process at Greenpeace.

What type of position was I interviewed about?

Greenpeace is much more than a group of climate activists trying to disturb the peace in public*. They do quite a lot of activism, but they also work as an information channel to people that want to learn more about climate change and sustainability.

The position I applied to was called Digital Marketing Manager. With more than 10 years of experience in making websites and getting relevant traffic to them, I knew a thing or two about how we could spread Greenpeace’s message across different digital platforms. The job was limited to handling the website and social media accounts in Norway, Sweden, and Denmark.

* = If you want to join a group with a bit more “edge”, I would recommend Extinction Rebellion. However, I am quite sure that they are not hiring people at the moment (and probably never will).

Which questions will be asked during a Greenpeace interview?

Before I get into the exact questions that I was answered, I will quickly go through the interview structure. First, I received an email that can be seen below.

E-mail from the people in Greenpeace to my e-mail inbox.

As you can see, I was asked to prepare a marketing campaign and present that in the Skype call with my (potential) future bosses. This is something that I had to provide them on e-mail at least 24 hours before the interview, which gave me no time to prepare. During the interview, I was in a Skype group call with a total of five people:

– One HR representative from Oslo.
– Two people working with marketing in the Oslo office.
– Head of Marketing who was located in Copenhagen.
– Me.

The exact questions I had to answer

As far as I can remember, these are the questions they asked me about these topics (in this exact order):

1. About my skills and qualifications.
2. What type of digital marketing I was doing in my current position.
3. “You have probably looked at our Social Media pages as well as our website. Do you have any ideas about what we can improve?”
4. Based on my answer, the marketing manager started to dig a bit deeper in regards to my digital marketing skillset. This is not something I need to be very specific about.

….and then we started to talk about Greenpeace.

5. “What have you heard about Greenpeace through media?”
6. “Which impression are you left with after doing some research about our organization*?”
7. “What is your take on civil disobedience? Would you support people that broke the law in order to get their message across?”

This is apparently a quite important thing for them. They say that even though you don’t have to join the demonstrations myself, I would have to write positively about them through the social media channels.

8. “Are you a political person?”

As far as I can remember, these are the questions that were asked.

*= Greenpeace are extremely careful about calling themselves a “business”. Every time I spoke with any of the employees, they constantly referred to themselves as a “non-profit organization”.

Are there any other ways of finding out what type of questions they will ask?

Yup. There is. Remember that all interviews are conducted differently based on the nature of the job position as well as your CV. However, once you start to read all the posts that can be found through this link, you start to see a pattern.

This is a very interesting and informative website called Glassdoor. As I did not care to make a user on that website, I had a strict limitation on the number of “reviews” I could read.

However, I can see that Greenpeace tend to ask many of the same questions to nearly all candidates.

How should you prepare?

In my opinion, there are two things to prepare before an interview with Greenpeace.

1. Normal preparation like you would do with any other job. Deliver an updated CV, know your stuff and act polite. If you struggle with this part, you should probably google phrases like “how to impress on a job interview”.

2. The second and more specific thing is to take a stand on the values of Greenpeace. My impression is that they are extremely careful about only hiring people that believe in their core values. You have to remember that some of the actions taken by certain climate activists will be seen as criminal activity. This is a true sentence that I heard during my interview:

“We will not force you to join any kind of activism, but you would have to support these actions through Facebook comments and other communication online.”

In other words: you truly have to believe in breaking the law for the climate to work at Greenpeace.

Did I get the job?

No, I did not. And rightfully so.

The marketing campaign that I delivered wasn’t exactly top-notch. You can read more about that (and see pictures) further down in the article. Trust me: you wouldn’t have hired me either if you were in their shoes.

Some screenshots from my task (I cringe…)

No wonder I did not land the job. 🙂

What would I have done differently if I was ever going to apply for a Greenpeace position again?

I would probably have taken the task more serious. To be honest, I did not make the most out of it. On the other hand, I was more or less only given 6 hours to finalize quite an important task. Due to the time difference between Shanghai and Oslo and the fact that I was in a full-time leadership position, I had almost no time to make a nice task. These are not excuses, but more of an explanation.

So what would I have done differently if I applied again?

I would probably have asked for a day off from my “normal” job to make a proper presentation to the Greenpeace people. Because I delivered a presentation of a really bad campaign, I felt like I was wasting their time.

To prepare well for an interview at Greenpeace, you can follow my five steps to success as written below:

Summary: the 5 “quick fixes” that will help you get an offer from Greenpeace

1. Do not ask for a high salary. Similar positions in Oslo would give someone with my CV about 55,000-70,000 NOK/month. A day or so before the interview, they sent me an e-mail saying this:

The salary as a digital marketing expert at Greenpeace is apparently not too high.

What I loved about this is that they are quite frank about the limitations. In the email, she actually straight up calls this a “salary issue“.

2. As mentioned previously: be prepared to know whether or not you would be willing to support their civil disobedience. This is a question that I had no idea how to answer. If you give them a straight out “no”, I am quite confident that you will NOT get the job.

3. Don’t overthink the fact that you are being interviewed by a non-profit climate organization. Prepare yourself more or less in the same way as you would do with any other company.

4. Read a lot about Greenpeace. Have a look at their website and understand the core values of their business. Ask yourself this question: “What would this type of organization appreciate among their members and colleagues?”.

This type of reflection is super important when you want to work in a political organization.

5. If you are asked to do any task, please take your time. Don’t be like me. I am super happy with the job I landed, but it would be awesome to get the digital marketing manager position at Greenpeace. The people I had an interview with seemed nice and I would love to work there.

Ultimately, I hope this article prepared you better for your upcoming Greenpeace interview. If you have some other questions related to this topic, feel free to comment below. I will answer as soon as I can.

7 thoughts on “What did I learn from having a job interview with Greenpeace?”

  1. Avatar

    I was also asked more or less the same questions as you. Wonder if Greenpeace has a global guide that’s called “101: this is how we do job interviews!!”.

    ….or if everyone are just so like-minded and political in that corporation 😉

  2. Avatar

    I worked for Greenpeace as a digital marketing expert in the UK for about five years. I can also confirm that what you’re saying is true – they are extremely obsessed about what you think about politics.

    To be fair, I find that to be a good thing. If you have someone in the team that doesn’t appreciate the values of Greenpeace, they have nothing to do there. That being said, they do miss out on a lot of talented people by being so “politically focused” when they hire people.

    1. Avatar

      Thanks for sharing, Andrew.

      A shame I couldn’t join the organization. It seems fun 🙂

  3. Avatar

    I find it very interesting that they seem to care about you being political. Not sure if Greenpeace would be deemed a “political organization”, but they definitely try to take part in such debates.

    is it only me, or has Greenpeace become less and less active over the last yearS?

    Something tells me that they are losing track instead of growing, maybe thats why they had to pay you so little LOL

    1. Avatar

      Hello 77, thanks for your comment. 🙂

      Yes, they were very eager about knowing more about my political view. Whether or not Greenpeace is less active compared to previous years: I really don’t know. My impression is that other more radical groups do get more media attention, like Extinction Rebellion.

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