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Interviews Are a Must for Board (and Chapter) Success

Interviews Are a Must for Board (and Chapter) Success

Looking for new board members is a continuous cycle with no beginning or end. (If that’s not your chapter, it should be.) You’re always looking for those expected end-of-term replacements, as well as those unexpected ones, like when your VP of membership feels pulled between work, home, and chapter, and steps down from his or her role with little or no notice.

No matter how desperate you believe you are to fill a role, the “butt in seat” method is never the right way to bring someone on. Empty seats are better than having someone who isn’t the right fit just so you can report your board is full. Bring on the wrong person, and you may find yourself with some uncomfortable board dynamics and a new board member who is resentful and overwhelmed. The new board member (and maybe some old ones) may step down as a result, leaving you in the same place you were before they joined.

Consider adding interviews to your recruiting process.

You interview potential employees, so why wouldn’t you interview potential board members? Including an interview as part of your decision-making process can help you increase the likelihood that the person you bring on has the skills and availability you need.

The Board

An interview expands the picture you have of a candidate, providing more information than a resume or application or from talking to members who know the individual (and may not want to tell you all they know). An interview lets you delve deep and gather all the details, while saving time, and eliminating countless headaches and frustrations.

Prepare a list of questions, with some that can’t be answered with a simple yes or no. The candidate says they’re a team player? Ask for an example of a time they played a key role on a team; you want to hear the good and the bad. Just because someone tells you they’re good with numbers or fundraising, or good at managing people, doesn’t mean they really are, so peel back the layers of their story to learn more. And, don’t forget questions that show how they share the board’s vision and its passion for the chapter.

The Potential Board Member

How does a person know if the role and joining the board is the right move for them? An interview is just as important for the candidate as it is for the board. Just because they say yes when you ask if they want to join the board doesn’t mean they should.

An interview lets them do their own information gathering, to better understand what they’d be taking on. If, after the interview, they agree to join, there is a better chance they’ll feel they’ve made the right decision, are getting out of the role what they expect, and most importantly, won’t feel like they’ve been “volunforced” into the position and took on more than they’re equipped to handle.

What if someone isn’t a good fit?

If you wouldn’t hire an employee who isn’t right for a job or a team, why would you let that happen with your board? If, after the interview process, you feel the person can’t do the job, don’t feel bad about saying no.

An open spot on your board doesn’t mean you hire the first person that raises their hand. Taking the time to interview the candidate(s) will help ensure you get the best person for the job, to allow the board to continue operating seamlessly and deliver the experiences members expect and deserve.


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