How to Prepare for a Board Interview: 14 Steps for Success

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 11 October 2022

Published 29 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

When an organisation is considering you to be a member of its board of directors, the current board members may invite you for an interview. This allows them to review your qualifications and provides you with a chance to learn more about the job. Understanding what to expect from a board interview and learning ways to get ready for the meeting can increase your chances of making a positive impression. In this article, we discuss how to prepare for a board interview and share suggestions for what kind of information to study prior to interviewing.

Related: 19 Types of Common Interviews and How to Prepare for Each

How to prepare for a board interview

If you want to learn how to prepare for a board interview, consider the following steps:

1. Start preparing early

Board interviews are often in-depth meetings where you discuss your professional history, explain your vision for the organisation and learn about the company's strategic situation. Since board interviews cover so many topics and may involve interacting with several key leaders at a business, preparing early can help you achieve the best results during the interview.

Once you schedule a board interview, start considering what information you want to mention during your discussion. You may even think about preparing earlier in the application process by conducting research on the company and noting the details you want to learn if you receive an invitation to interview. Make detailed notes to ensure that all of your practice and preparation are available for you to review.

Related: How to Prepare for an Interview

2. Request the board calendar

After the board invites you for an interview, request their calendar so you can verify your availability for a board member position. Many board members participate on multiple boards and committees or have full-time jobs, so it's useful to review the board calendar to confirm that you can participate in any key events and meetings. Even if you have open availability and are passionate about participating on the board, asking for a copy of the corporate calendar shows that you're serious about the position and want to be considerate about the long-term commitment of being a board member.

3. Identify any conflicts of interest

Think about potential conflicts of interest that you may have as a board member. If you have any agreements with current or past employers, financial obligations or other limitations that influence your ability to make decisions on the board, it's important to be aware of them before the interview. Many organisations have a policy addressing how they handle conflicts of interest, so understanding your personal situation and obligations can help you ask relevant questions during the interview and respond to any enquiries board members have about potential conflicts.

4. Study the organisation's public image

Learning about the organisation's branding and public image can provide you with conversation topics to address during the interview. When assessing potential board members, interviewers may ask you about their opinion on ways to engage their consumers, handle public relations situations or change the direction of the company's mission. Understanding how the public perceives the organisation can allow you to develop an informed perspective on these topics. Browse the business's social media pages, read press releases and research any community partners to learn more about their current image.

Related: What Is Public Relations (Plus 8 PR Tactics That Work)

5. Read publicly available reports

Gather evidence and facts about the organisation's performance by looking for any reports that are available to the public. This can include financial documents, tax filings, stock performance reports and other information about the company's financial projections. Being able to reference specific information in the company's reports during your board interview shows that you were diligent about researching their operations. It can also give you ideas about the organisation's current strategic position and ways you can potentially improve outcomes if you earn a position on the board.

6. Conduct general research

Continue the research process by searching for more general information about the organisation. You can research the company by talking to current and former employees, browsing the company website, assessing information from competitor organisations, reading customer reviews and using their services yourself. Knowing information about the company's hiring practices, organisational needs, market share and key offerings can help you customise your interview answers to be more relevant to the board.

7. Review the board's history

Along with gathering facts about the company, it's useful to understand the history of the board itself. Try to collect information on the history and culture of the board of directors. This can include their demographics, the size of the board of directors over time and how they make decisions.

For example, interviewing for a position on a new board of directors may involve emphasising different aspects of your experience than interviewing for an opening on an established board with an extensive history. Learning about the company culture and executive leadership styles can often help you understand how the board functions. This can help you prepare your answers accordingly.

8. Research individual board members

When interviewing with other board members, it's especially important to know who they are and what their role is at the company. Research a basic biography of each of the current board members, including their names, committees they participate in, job titles, other board memberships, publications and major career accomplishments. This can provide you with conversation subjects and ways to connect with board members during the interview on a personal level. By having some background on each of the board members, you can reference their interests and causes that they care about, building authentic professional bonds.

Related: What Is C-Suite? (Plus How to Become a Successful Leader)

9. List potential opportunities

Make a list of your ideas for potential opportunities and chances for the organisation to grow. Having a vision for the company and being able to reference a strategic plan shows initiative, passion and focus. Being a board member is a collaborative effort, but it's important to have a unique, actionable perspective to contribute. Since board members govern the overall structure and operation of an organisation, being able to recognise opportunities for growth is an appealing quality to showcase during your interview.

10. Review your board resume

If you're preparing for a board interview, it's likely that you submitted a board resume or application with a summary of your accomplishments to the organisation. Review your resume and study each key point to ensure that you feel confident discussing the information on your application in more detail during the interview. The board members may mention details from your resume to learn more about your professional history. Knowing what information you included and being able to discuss it confidently can help you answer questions more easily.

11. Understand how you add value

Think about what main qualities you provide to the board that bring value to the organisation. It's important to understand what makes you unique from the current board members and from other potential candidates. Consider how your perspective can help the organisation achieve its mission and goals and practice ways to mention your value during an interview. You can incorporate the way you add value into multiple questions during a board interview, so consider the different ways to highlight the benefits of hiring you as a board member.

12. Verify the reason for your interest

During board interviews, you may want to discuss the reasons you're interested in being a board member. The board of directors typically seeks candidates who are passionate about the company's mission and plan on committing to the organisation long-term. Being able to talk extensively about why you want to join the board can demonstrate that your personal values align with the company mission. It shows that both you and the company benefit from having you on the board. Decide on a few key reasons you want to join the board, emphasising your professional values.

Related: What Is Corporate Culture and Why Is It So Important?

13. Prepare a list of questions

Create a list of questions that you want to ask board members at the end of the interview. The board interview is a suitable time to gather more information about how the organisation operates and if you're a good match for the board. Focus on asking questions about details that weren't available through your research. You can adjust the specific questions depending on the company and what information you learn during your research, but some sample questions to ask include:

  • What is the process for making decisions as a board?

  • What skills are they seeking in future board members?

  • How has the culture of the board changed over the years?

  • What is the strategic vision of the organisation's shareholders?

  • What are the major challenges the company is currently experiencing?

14. Practice the conversation

Meet with a trusted mentor to practise and role-play the board interview. Make a list of potential interview questions that a board member may ask and answer them in different ways to see what kinds of anecdotes and stories best represent your qualifications. Ask for feedback from your mentor and apply their notes to your answers before the interview.

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