Being interviewed by a panel of directors is going to be overwhelming if you turn up on the day feeling unprepared. Passion for the organisation is not enough on its own to get you through what will could be some tough and challenging questions. If we’ve met you for a preliminary interview, we will give you our honest and constructive advice on points to consider and how best you can frame your experience so that in lands in the right way. We can get you to the point of interview, but what you do next, and the effort you put in, is up to you.
Preparation is key; that means really doing your homework; read up about the organisation, have an idea of the current Board and Executive team and understand the backgrounds of the people interviewing you. Try and read the organisation’s strategy or strategic overview which you can find on their website; it will give you a good roadmap of what they are trying to achieve (their mission) and why, and then you can start thinking about how your experience could help them achieve part of that journey.
Questions to think about
Make sure you have an idea of how you might articulate answers to some key questions; otherwise on the day it might not come out as you had hoped. You need to link your motivations with your experience and abilities and show the Board how you would apply those to their organisation in a more seamless way.
Don’t over rehearse it, have a few key examples to use that can be applied relevantly. Below are some questions you may get asked that you probably won’t have heard in other interviews:
- Can you articulate the differences between executive and non-executive leadership? It’s harder question to answer than you might think, and many senior level directors have floundered when being asked for the first time! They are trying to test if you understand the boundaries between the operational (Executive and the staff) management of the organisation and what the role of the Board is. Also, think about if it’s ever acceptable to cross the line between the two, and if so, in what circumstances?
- What is your style of engagement at Board level is really just a way of finding out how you will interact with other Board members. Will you feel the need to have an answer to everything, or will you engage when it’s relevant? Will you stray over the line and try and tell the Executive what to do? Think about how others would describe you – fair, open, collegiate? These are all qualities boards seek to enable open and constructive debate.
- What are the challenges and opportunities you see for the organisation currently? This is designed to test your understanding of the organisation as much as it’s possible from an external perspective and to show you understand where it sits within a much larger socioeconomic context. So, think about external factors that might impact their ability to operate e.g., Covid19 impact on face-to-face service provision and challenges with staffing levels, or the effect on income generation and where their funding comes from, e.g., from local authorities (statutory funding) or from large philanthropic donors to individual public donations. There could be also brand awareness issues, digital strategy, and engagement with their key audiences – how you could help raise their profile with a younger demographic?
- Which key values of ours really resonate with you and why? Be prepared and know their values (which will be on their website, usually with the mission and aims as they are all tied together). Only answer which values genuinely resonate with you and why. A few key ones answered authentically is far better than listing the headings you read on the website but having nothing to back them up.
- Have some questions for them – show you are interested, have engaged with the organisation and are motivated!