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11 Questions to Ask Board Candidates
While board candidates are evaluated using a variety of criteria, a key to nominating the right people is to ask the right questions during the assessment process. The questions should not just cover experience. Members of the nominating committee or board should also be proactively looking for specific qualities and beliefs. Here are some questions to consider, grouped into three areas that are essential for board effectiveness.

Group Dynamics

What are the characteristics of good governance? Constructive, respectful, and open debate is essential on an effective board, as is diversity of opinion. But ultimately, when it’s time to make decisions, the board must speak with one voice.

What attributes or personality traits would you bring to the board? Knowing this will give insight into how well the candidate will mesh with the rest of the group. Depending on the make-up of the board, a certain personality type may be required.

What is the best way to handle conflict? Conflict on a board is inevitable, but knowing how to minimize it and handle it is crucial.

How do you feel about social interaction with other board members? A collegial environment is important, both inside and outside the board room. There are many opportunities for members to interact socially, and those interactions help form good relationships.

Volunteer Engagement


How does the position fit in with your other responsibilities? Board service is a commitment, so find out not only what conflicts the candidate might have, but how much flexibility they have in their schedule.

Is there an area of interest or passion that you would bring to the board? It’s beneficial to know if the candidate has specific skills or interests that the board needs. Do they have a background in finance? Advocacy? Marketing? This knowledge will also help you make proper committee assignments.

What motivates you as a volunteer? Understanding what motivates the candidate to serve will allow you to help him or her have a more fulfilling tenure.

How do you feel about recruiting and mentoring other board members? A willingness to participate in recruiting and mentoring volunteer talent is imperative to maintaining long-term effectiveness.

Role Clarity

What are your expectations of the chief staff officer? The board member/executive director relationship is crucial to the success of the organization. The two parties have defined roles, so board members should be fully aware of the responsibilities of chief staff officers to avoid confusion, conflict, and overlap.

What do you see as your role on the board? Just as important as understanding the role of staff is knowing the strategic function of the board. Further, it may help you determine if they are a team player, a thought leader, or a disruptor there to shake things up.

Do you see yourself as board president? Identifying future leaders is critical to a board’s continued success.

The answers to these questions should provide much more valuable insight into the candidate than can be gleaned from just a resume.
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OCTOBER 2017 EDITION
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Board Forward is published 10 times a year by SmithBucklin, the association management and services company more organizations turn to than any other. SmithBucklin has served volunteer board members for more than 60 years.

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