Have an interview for a board role? What questions can you expect?
If you have been called to interview for a board role, what questions can you expect?
Interviewing for a board role – as a non-executive director – can be one of the most gruelling application processes you’ll ever go through. It’s more true now than ever, thanks to the increasing scrutiny of directors.
However, like any job, it is possible to plan and prepare. If you’re lucky enough to land an offer, complete your credentials with specialised NED training.
Non-executive director interview questions explained
First and foremost, think in a disruptive way
Many of your interview questions will likely centre on how disruptive you can be.
We’re not talking about the bad kind of disruption here. We’re talking about the kind that challenges old ideas, changes established norms and opens others’ minds to new ways of doing things.
The reason for this comes from the core role of a NED. With their vast experience and independent vantage point, they are expected to be honest in their feedback and offer insights that the rest of the board might not think of.
Keep that in mind as you look through these questions.
You should expect them in any job interview, not just for a NED position.
- Why do you want this role?
- What do you know about the company?
- What skills and experience can you bring to the role?
- Why should we pick you over other candidates?
Standard stuff, easy to prepare for.
What change can you bring / tell us about changes you have brought in the past?
The core intention is the same whether it’s future or past tense. The interviewer wants to get an idea of your impact and your legacy.
NEDs aren’t wanted for their ability to blend into the wall and vote with the masses. They’re wanted for their feedback and unique, refreshing takes on age-old issues. They want attitudes that fuel change.
If you’re shortlisted for a NED role, you’ll likely have experience demonstrating this attitude. Showcase it.
Tell us about a time you have challenged a company policy or strategy
It’s an examination of how well you act on your initiative. The company wants to hear how you spotted a flaw, worked out a plan for fixing it, and implemented it.
What defines your way of working?
Joining a board means joining a team of experienced, passionate, vocal professionals. Given the board’s responsibility, ensuring you fit into it well is vital. This question offers clarity on that.
It also gives your company insights into how you think, how you prioritise, and how you might manage a crisis. All of these are important at the board level.
What does the company’s future look like in your view?
This question has several intentions:
- It explores your passion for the company’s success
- It explores your goals for the company
- It explores how the company might reach those goals
How do you approach risk management?
Very important. Risk (and reporting risk) is more crucial than ever in modern corporate governance.
How do you stay up to date on industry news?
Your company doesn’t want to hear any suggestion that you might lose touch with stakeholders.
How do you balance needs and requests coming from multiple directions?
On a board, you’re acting in the interests of shareholders. But you’ve also got to deal with requests from the executive, employees, consumers, communities and governments.
In this situation, at least one group could quickly end up unhappy. Your company wants confidence that you can balance this as far as possible.
You’ve been shortlisted for a NED role for a reason.
This means that, while the questions can be challenging, you should have the experience to answer them.
Of course, getting specialised training on the subject will be worthwhile if it’s your first role of this kind. You can read more about this training here.