When a board recruits a new member the process typically involves an interview. Candidates for board positions must be prepared to respond to questions ranging from how their skills and experiences, as well as their attributes will benefit the organization, to the reasons that it is important for them to be a part of the Board. They should also have a clear sense of how much time they are willing to dedicate to the role.
Boards usually seek strategic thinking, not executive thinking, says Garland McLellan, founder of Board Ready, a board consulting firm. The interviewer is looking for someone who can engage in a high-level conversation, ask intelligent questions, and challenge the company’s thought processes.
A good candidate for a board position is willing to speak their own perspective on the challenges and strategies of the potential employer, but also open to hearing the perspectives of other interviewers. They should be able give balanced feedback even if a company’s performance wasn’t up to expectations.
Interviewers may ask candidates examine the collegiality and the culture within the boardroom. This is particularly relevant for a public company where the board’s relationships with shareholders may be at risk. Additionally, the board could inquire about whether they have conflicts of interest that might affect their ability to contribute value. Undiscovered conflicts of interest could undermine a board’s plan and can have serious legal implications in the worst case scenario. If the candidate’s answer is to be taken into consideration as a conflict of interest, they must be prepared to disclose any relevant affiliations or relationships.