November 5, 2021
The board of directors plays a significant role in the operation and direction of organizations. They are responsible for guiding the association financially and culturally and are often tasked with selecting the CEO. Because this role impacts the present and future of an organization, choosing the right board members is essential – and finding the right people starts with crafting smart and creative board member interview questions.
Not only will this allow members to learn more about their candidates, but also ensure they understand what the organization needs moving forward and how these candidates can contribute.
Some of the most influential members of an organization, association or non-profit are the board of directors. Typically elected by the association members, the board guides the association and takes on major tasks, including:
Depending on your organizational structure, board members will either be elected by general membership or recommended by an executive committee. Before they can interview or appoint anyone to the Board of Directors, however, they first must understand the needs of their organization and where to find candidates.
The quick answer is it depends. All associations and organizations are different, which means they all have different term limits for their board of directors. However, the most common term limit structure is two to three years. This information is essential as not all candidates will be available or prepared to make that time commitment, making it an easy way to narrow down the selection.
Like any hiring process, selecting a board member starts by identifying your intangibles. What are the professional and personal qualities you want from a board member? What experience do you want them to have? What are their responsibilities and how much authority do they have?
This information should allow you to understand what it would take to create a dynamic board of directors. It will also give you the foundation for a thorough job description and questions to bring into the interview process.
While many associations may have some candidates in mind, it’s also vital to look beyond that pool to ensure equitable hiring and increase the chance for new, modern thinking in your association.
According to Joanne Fritz, an expert on nonprofit organizations and philanthropy for The Balance Small Business, your volunteers and donor database are two great places to start. Not only do they already understand your organization, but they are also either invested in the vision or have ideas on how to improve it. Additionally, because of their time volunteering, they often have strong leadership skills making them an excellent option for the board.
While choosing new members is important, learning from those exiting office is also essential. They can share valuable information as to what worked and what didn’t, along with future plans your new members can prioritize.
Once the organization understands what it needs from its board members and selected qualified candidates, the interview process begins. Knowing what questions to ask board members in an interview is essential as this decision can impact your organization for years at the very least.
Basic questions to start any interview include:
From there, interviewers can dial into the specifics that will give them an idea of how the candidate will work in their role, how they will mesh with the existing board and their expectations within the organization.
When crafting interview questions for board members, it’s crucial to understand how their experience fits into the organization’s future, what they bring to the table and whether or not they are genuinely committed to being active board members. Not only will this help you find the ideal candidate, but it will ensure a positive future for your organization.
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Jose Triana joined the Sidecar team as the Content Manager in 2021. He is a writer and creative focused on helping purpose-driven organizations learn and find value online. When he isn't working on content, you can catch him going for a run or resting with a good book.