Over many years of working with associations from all segments of the for profit and not for profit worlds, we’ve seen the process of adding a board member deteriorate. Often there are very few in the organization who want to volunteer. And, those who are willing to become directors may not have the experience or personal traits that will augment the leadership.

Having a seat on a board of directors is a job. It’s a job with no pay, typically. But that doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be an interview process. Sadly, many times we’ve been present at a board meeting where an opening is announced and a quiet visitor to the meeting is tapped to fill the vacancy. Usually a bit stunned, they say, yes and the deal is done. This is very unwise and certainly unfair.

A selection committee of 2 or 3 board members should respect the process enough to take time to have a private interview with a prospective candidate when they are not put on the spot. Here are a few basics to when interviewing:

  • Make certain the prospect has the time for meetings and events
  • Assuming there will be unremunerated expenses, do they understand that?
  • What is their experience on other boards? None? Are they willing to be trained?
  • Have at least two board members and one staff interview them
  • Ask how they hope to contribute to the organization
  • Give them time to research the past and current association activities and bylaws
  • Review written director duties with them.

It’s far better to leave a board seat open than to rush to fill it with an unprepared or ill-fitting person. Ultimately, that will bog down the board’s ability to reach goals of service to members.

Don’t you think your rank and file members deserve qualified and engaged leadership?

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