Three Tips To Guide You In Your Corporate Board Seat Interview
You’ve been on your board journey, putting in the work – networking, readying your board documents and elevator pitch, and alerting your professional network of your interest in board service, and after submitting your application for a corporate board seat, you’ve landed an interview. What comes next?
Firstly, congratulations! Without a doubt, this process has required time, patience, and grit. You’ve certainly earned the opportunity to interview! Interviewing for your board seat is one of the final steps in landing that corporate board seat, and it’s incredibly important to be prepared for this momentous occasion.
Your Network Is Watching
Keep in mind that you’re making an impact on your interview before you even take your first step into the corporate boardroom. The board interview does not start when you are sitting in a chair across from the selection committee.
Every step in the process is part of the interview – whether you’re talking to a friend, colleague, C-suite executive, current board member; you are presenting your value and differentiation that would make you a good board member. Approach these conversations in that way. When you are being introduced through your network, the first conversation is likely with the chairman or CEO.
Make a good impression because what will happen from there could lead you to the selection committee or even the rest of the board.
Remember, Direct Don’t Manage
Interviewing for a corporate board seat is not the same as interviewing for an executive level management position. In fact, there are stark contrasts.
You want to keep in mind that as a corporate board member it does not fall under your responsibilities to carry out operations for the company, but to rather provide oversight and guidance through your ability to assess risk, manage crises, and partake in conversations around strategic growth.
The key to illustrating your understanding of your strategic role as a board member is to prepare extensively in getting to know that company. Be sure to familiarize yourself with everything about the company’s history, management, competitors, and industry trends, and then expand your research to become current on boardroom best practices and changing regulations. You’ll gain great insight by reviewing the company’s website, analyst reports, and press releases.
Don’t Forget To Evaluate Culture and Fit
This may be one of the most valuable tips I can offer. Since you’re going to be spending quite a bit of time with your board, you want to make sure it’s a fit. I’ve heard from plenty of Women in the Boardroom members that they’ve decided to turn down an offer because it simply wasn’t a fit. And that’s a smart move.
Make sure that you feel comfortable with the group of people you’re interviewing with and that you feel challenged in a positive way. Be sure to ask questions during the interview process that will give you an idea of what the company’s mission and strategy is, how members communicate, whether they have similar ethics and values to you.
According to Ellen B. Richstone, Professional Director and former private company CEO and Fortune 500 CFO, “One effective way to evaluate company culture is to learn about the process of adding a board member. Have phone conversations with the other board members to establish a relationship upfront. If members decline this, it can be a red flag. If they say yes, these are conversations where you can learn a lot about how the company runs, which is a largely positive experience.”
Remember, interviewing for your board seat can be nerve wracking but effectively and extensively preparing for this interview should help to quell some of those pre-interview jitters. Be sure to gather as much information about the company and the board before your interview, and most importantly, make sure it’s the right fit!
If you’re interested in continuing the conversation, Reach out to me directly!
Sheila Ronning, Founder, Women in the Boardroom.
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