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What To Ask When Interviewing Candidates For Your Board Of Directors

by Jonathan Aspatore

Every so often we feature blog posts from fellow peers in the nonprofit and church sectors. This article is by Jonathan Aspatore, ExecRank Chief Executive Officer, and Chairman. ExecRank helps Non-Profits connect with Advisors and Board Members to help with fundraising, strategy, local and national partnerships, key introductions and much more.

Conducting an initial interview for a new board member or advisor is the first substantial step in evaluating a candidate. At ExecRank, the leading platform helping companies find new board members, we recommend spending time developing questions that focus heavily on identifying how the individual can add immediate value to your organization in the areas needed most.

Look for something specific for the candidate to contribute that relates to your goals. Also focus on where they can help with a deep source of knowledge on a pressing challenge or opportunity, connections into an industry you are looking to enter, experience dealing with topics and situations where your executive team or board has deficiencies, and any other specific qualities or experiences that will meet your requirements.

Just as important as the questions asked and answers provided is the professional tone of the candidate. It’s also important for your personalities and business personas to align well.

Preparing For The Interview

Before meeting, it’s important to forward some links and general information about your organization to the candidate. You may also want to send them any specific pieces of information you’d like to know that pertain to the main reasons you saw potential in them. However, there is no need to ask them to review for the interview. Leaving an open forum better allows you to see the extent of their own initiative and effort they apply ahead of time.

We also suggest you Google search the individual and see what information appears. Look on LinkedIn and see if you have any contacts or interests in common. Then prepare several questions that can help you understand the potential value the candidate might bring.

Your questions will depend heavily on whether you have a specific function in mind for the candidate on your board. So we compiled a few of our favorite questions to ask Board of Director candidates.

Interview Questions For Board Member Candidates

  • Do you have any questions about our organization?
    This is a great question to start with. It helps identify their interest, curiosity, and knowledge they have regarding your organization. Your answers to the candidate’s questions will also make for a more productive interview.
  • How can you add immediate value as a board member of our organization?
    Listen for specific examples that show a strong understanding of your mission or cause. References to similar experiences in their career that relate to your objectives are a good indicator.
  • Do you have the bandwidth to be an active and engaged board member?
    It’s important to understand what level of commitment the candidate is willing to make to your organization. Asking this question will help you weed out passive candidates.
  • We’re facing a challenge with [insert your organization’s main challenge]. What experience, ideas, connections, and resources do you have that would allow you to help us in this area?
    This is a great question to help you gauge how this candidate thinks about solving problems and how relevant they are to your particular challenges and organization.
  • What is the one skill or strength you have that is unmatched by your colleagues and peers?
    This question allows you to understand what the candidate believes to be their largest competitive advantage. Depending on your goals, diverse answers from each member of your board to this question shows a well-balanced Board of Directors.

At ExecRank, we have used these questions for interviewing our own Board of Directors, and we’ve recommended them to countless members with great results. You will be amazed at the ideas and feedback you can get from the interview process when you ask the right questions.

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[…] out this article on what questions to ask when interviewing candidates for your board. And if you’re working for a nonprofit and are looking for a way to manage your donors, check […]


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