The key to a successful board director interview is preparing well in advance. Deep-dive research (which takes more than a day or two) and answer preparation for anticipated questions will help you ace this critical step in the selection process.
The lineup of potential board interviewers includes:
As part of your preparation, spend time learning about them beyond a quick read of their bios and LinkedIn profiles. Look for commonalities that will help you connect more easily during conversations. Identify experience or skills areas missing from the collective group where you can contribute and add value. Talk to people in your network (and beyond) who may know these individuals and can shed additional light on them and the company and board.
Thorough research about a company beyond core details is important for any interview and is no different for board interviews. Immerse yourself in any information you can find to grasp its financial standing and performance, transaction history, legal issues etc. If the company is publicly traded, this is easily accessible in various places. If it's a private company, the information is harder to find but not impossible. Some private companies will provide you with information proactively. If they don't, you can always ask for it; it's an obvious and important part of any candidate's consideration when evaluating the company and board.
Also helpful for interviewing is understanding the company's brand positioning, stakeholders and competitive landscape. Look closely at their marketing materials, social media platforms, press releases, partnerships/sponsorships details and learn about their competitors. This information will help you customize interview responses to be more relevant to this specific company and board activities.
Gaining insights into the current board dynamics (often gleaned by conversations with people who interact with the company and board) and the unique perspective you can bring to the table can set you apart. This knowledge aids you in crafting responses that align your experiences with the board's requirements. Moreover, showcasing your deep understanding of the company's operations signals your interest, diligent research and thoughtful preparation. This level of commitment is another way to show your interest in guiding the company into the future.
During the interview, enthusiasm and genuine interest will be pivotal in how you are perceived. Prepare a compelling answer about your interest in joining that company's board, emphasizing your alignment with its mission and long-term commitment. Articulate why you believe both you and the company stand to gain from this collaboration. Beyond mental rehearsal, practice out loud and seek peer feedback to enhance your performance.
When anticipating difficult questions, consider any potential conflicts of interest that could influence your impartiality and decision-making – you will be asked about their impact if you were to serve on their board. Scrutinize agreements with previous or current employers, financial obligations or any other commitments that could sway your objectivity so that you can address concerns openly and specifically.
A successful board director interview requires in-depth research, a deep understanding of the company's business, board and brand, and an enthusiastic presentation of your fit for the role. By planning for diverse questions and demonstrating your commitment to contributing meaningfully, you can position yourself as a distinguished candidate poised to guide the board toward a successful future.