Get to Board: Acing the Interview
An interview invite is a major milestone in your board journey. Due to the legal liabilities angle, board interview invites must be handled cautiously. Most Board interviews are conversational, and conducted in informal settings and sometimes at a non-office venue as well. A couple of things that the board would like to explore with you are, how can you help enhance corporate governance and how can you help improve the image of the company. The third most important thing the board would like to understand is how good a cultural fit you are. They are also most interested to know what values you will bring to the table. Avoid too much focus on your functional expertise (you must understand the big difference that functional experts are hired as executives and consultants), and highlight your comfort across functions.
Here is your guide that will help you through the interview process:
- Revisit the Job Description/Profile:
Pay close attention to the requirement of the profile. Sadly, very few companies have well-written job profiles for IDs. What is it that the Board expects of the candidate? The expectation is more on comfort across functions, conversant on corporate governance, good social skills, and being a team player who avoids being pre-judgmental and focuses more on the message than the messenger.
- Revisit your CV and the Cover Letter
What are the relevant business wisdom and expertise you have that are the best suited for the job? You must be able to identify where you can contribute, ensuring that your contributions are the most valuable to the Board. Refresh your vocabulary with the keywords in your board cv.
- Research. Research. Research.
Read through the company website and analyse the annual reports and balance sheets to understand the current standing of the company. Conduct your own inquiries, and confidentially speak to your contacts and the contacts of your direct contacts. This will give you an idea about the culture of the company and any troubles it may have had in the past.
The key to board placements is the cultural fit of the candidate. Be sure to check out the Corporate Governance Code of the company; most companies publish it on their websites. Be prepared to answer personal questions related to your family as this information is relevant from the cultural fit and conflict of interest point of view as well as due to the legal requirement of the board.
Get to know about the NRC members from social media and likely people to interview you. Ensure that you know their background and profiles. You should also identify common grounds, what are the key areas of their interest? Which of your experiences and skill sets will appeal to them the most? Find out why the company is looking for an additional board member. Figure out how your expertise may strengthen particular Board committees. These come in handy when you pitch yourself for the position and highlight your competency.
- Value Proposition
Before the interview, you must list at least four to five key points that will set you apart from the other candidates. It is important to have clarity about the value you bring to the table.
- Prepare Ice Breakers, Talking Points, and Questions
Start the Interview by talking about the company’s most recent accomplishments such as last quarter’s successful results or start a conversation with a positive point say some new successful launch and any recent good news about the company in the public domain. It is a good practice to have a list of talking points and questions you have for the board. Writing down your talking points will ensure that you have internalised them in a few well-thought-out words and will be easier to recall.
After the in-depth research, you are bound to have questions. Asking the right questions will give you a better understanding of what is required for the job. Moreover, it will let you steer the conversation toward the topics you want to discuss or the expertise you want to highlight. Again, have the questions written down and revisit them just before your interview. Avoid any negative questions unless the negative news may particularly be relevant in this context.
During the Interview
ü On the day of the interview if you are comfortable and well-dressed, you will feel good about yourself.
ü Being confident is key to a good interview, be well prepared, be yourself, and be happy about yourself.
Points to Remember
- This interview will be unlike any other executive job interviews you might have had before. So, expect the interview to be more conversational. The interviewer wants to know more about you. Who are you? What value do you bring to the table? How may you handle a conflict? Are you good at making critical decisions? Will you be a good fit for the board? The interviewer is looking for these answers.
- Be aware and mindful of your value proposition. Remember to steer the conversation in a way that leads you to share your talking points and value proposition.
- Do not focus only on answering the questions that come your way. You may miss the opportunity to effectively highlight your value proposition. Keep the conversation going. Bring up the questions you have listed down after your research in the pre-interview process.
- Be alert and remain on top of your game. You must be able to ask follow-up questions that help you keep the conversation going.
- Even if you have done your research by studying the job description etc., make it a point to ask about the expectations the Board has from the candidate. You might come to know of some expectations that were not clear from your initial research.
- Think about the three things that the interviewer must take away from the meeting. Steer the conversation to highlight those key areas and back them up with examples.
Your interview process does not end with you walking out of the room. After the interview, send a thank you email to your interviewers. This will set you apart and you are more likely to be in the interviewer’s memory for longer. Keep the conversation open by inviting the interviewers to reach out if they have any follow-up questions they might have, this highlights your interest in the position as well.
Note: Get support from Board Stewardship Inc. before going for your board interview. We also provide a dummy interview session with present IDs on other company boards without disclosing the company inviting you for an interview. We also provide the latest MCA Data on the company and a report by our company secretary with red flags to check out. Email us with your phone number for a call back on firstname.lastname@example.org