How to Ace a Corporate Board Seat Interview

If a board decides to hire new members, the process usually involves an interview. Board candidates must be prepared to answer questions that range from how their skills and attributes will contribute to the organization and why they want to join the board. They should also know how much time they are willing spend on the job.

Garland McLellan is the founder of Board Ready. A board consulting firm. Boards are seeking strategic thinking, not executive thinking. That means that the interviewer is looking for a candidate who can engage in a conversation at a high level, ask good questions and challenge the company’s thinking processes.

A successful board member will be able to share their own views on the business issues and strategies of a potential employer, but should also be open to hearing the views of other interviewers. They must be able to provide an honest and balanced opinion, even if the company’s performance is not adequate.

Interviewers might ask candidates to examine the atmosphere and collegiality within the boardroom. This is particularly crucial when a company is publicly traded, where the board’s relationship to shareholders could be at stake. A board may also ask candidates to reveal any conflicts of interests they might have that could impact their ability to add the value. An unearthed conflict of interest can derail a board’s strategy and could have significant legal implications in the worst-case scenario. If candidates are asked to answer this question, they should be prepared to provide any relevant relationships and affiliations.

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