board interview

A Guide To Preparing For A Board Interview

You’ve achieved it: the board interview. It’s something that you’ve probably been vying for a long time. Maybe it’s weeks, maybe it’s months…maybe it’s years!

On your journey to land that dream position or job, interviews are most likely going to be the most stressful step. After all, what could possibly be more stressful than attempting to convince an absolute stranger, who’s continuously grilling you with questions, why you’re better for a position than a bunch of other strangers vying for the same thing?

The answer: An entire group of strangers grilling you with questions.

Because that pretty much sums up a board interview in the most colloquial terms.

In a board interview, multiple employees from the same organization come together to interview a single candidate. Board interviews are highly organized and formal & are usually employed to select an employee for a high-level position.

For the employee, board interviews can be doubly stressful. One reason for this is the involvement of not one but multiple interviewers. The other being the position in the question itself: if it’s a high-level position, it’s most likely something that you have been working for since a very long time.

But there’s no need to freak out.

By keeping in mind a few things like knowing your bio by heart, looking up the company and board members beforehand, preparing your questions & feedback beforehand, and sharpening your interview skills, you can easily ace your board interview.

What To Expect From A Board Interview?

Panel Interviews are becoming increasingly common in the job market. Panel interviews allow companies to screen through the medley of job seekers coming their way to filter out the best possible candidate.

As the name itself makes clear, a panel or board interview takes place when a panel of people–usually members from different departments of a company–interview a single candidate.

If it’s for a senior-level position, panel interviews usually occur with an individual candidate being interviewed by a group of people. However, in some scenarios, there can be several candidates & interviewers in a room all at once.

The main point of a panel interview is to put more pressure on an individual than occurs in a one-on-one interview. The panel members consider how you cope under these kinds of situations, which will play a key role in determining whether you land that position or not.

5 Tips To Sharpen Your Interview Skills

writing down your main points

1. Watch Interview Videos

Videos are an excellent way to sharpen your interview skills. Thanks to the internet, you can now find hundreds of interview videos on Youtube to brush up on your interview skills.

As you watch the video, make sure to take note of any important pointers that you come across, and then incorporate them into your preparation checklist.

2. Flip Your Role

Another way to sharpen your interview skills is to flip your role and to think from the point of view of the interviewer themselves. Ask yourself: If I were the interviewer, what would I be looking in a candidate? Would I pick myself–if not, what can I do to improve my allure?

This will help you come up with a unique angle to practice your interview.

3. Practice Active Listening

Active listening and hearing are two different concepts. While active listening involves paying attention to what the other person is saying, drawing inferences & responding to them, hearing is merely a biological process.

Often, when interviews go on for too long, you might find yourself flipping from active listening to hearing instead. We don’t want that! So, practice keeping yourself in the listening zone.

4. Pay Attention To Your Body Language

Your body language is key when it comes to an interview–especially when you’ve got so many eyes on you. A candidate might give the perfect answers, but if their body language is not on point, they might end up losing out on a much sought-after job.

So, make sure to practice your hand gestures, posture, facial expressions etc. before your interview. You can even record yourself doing this for better reference.

5. Figure Out What Makes You Sell

As a prospective employee being interviewed, you’re essentially selling your services to the company. Whether the cost is worth it or not will be determined by the people interviewing you–and it’s your job to convince them that it is.

So, figure out your personal value. Ask yourself: why does the company need me? And then learn how to pitch it in such a way that it makes you appear like an attractive choice.

How To Prepare For A Board Interview

board interview panel

1. Know Your Bio By Heart

Your board bio includes your entire career history, achievements, experience etc. consolidated into one page. This is generally a starting point for both: you as well as the interviewer. Your interviewer will use this bio as a guide to direct them throughout your interview, which is why it’s imperative to know it by heart.

You don’t want the interviewer to ask you something related to your bio and not be able to answer their question. Instead of getting bogged down by every little detail or qualification. They already know that you’re qualified: that’s why you landed the interview in the first place.

Instead, focus on why you’re the right person they should pick.

2. Avoid Jargon

While using big or complicated words related to your field might sound like a good strategy to make yourself sound smart in front of the board members, it’s most likely not a good strategy if you want to make a good impression on all of them.

This is because board members are often comprised of employees from different departments of an organization, and not every person will be familiar with the words or lingo you’re using.

So, it’s best not to use jargon in your interview.

3. Look Up The Company & Board Members

You don’t want to go into your interview without having some idea about what the company is like and who’s going to be interviewing you. It’s important to do your homework beforehand and look up the company as well as its board members.

Go on social media. Look up the company’s website. Lookup any press releases or coverage. The idea is to glean an understanding of the company’s structure, history, competitors, trends, etc.

4. Sharpen Your Interview Skills

If you’re doing a panel interview, you’ve most likely done interviews in the past. However, you need to realize that this is going to be different than the other interviews you’ve done. You’re going to be interviewed by multiple people, most of whom will have multiple ways of interviewing and multiple perspectives on what makes for a good person in the position in question.

Besides, it’s always good to brush up on your interview skills so that you don’t run out of practice. Remember that you want to be an effective communicator and not an ineffective one. And to do so, you need practice.

So, make sure to practice before your big day. You want to come to your interview prepared & ready to take on the world.

5. Make Sure You Ask The Right Questions

You should prepare the questions you’re going to ask before the actual interview. The questions won’t be anything personal, of course. Rather, they should be directed at the organization in question & should display the knowledge you have about it.

You can prepare your questions during the phase where you’re looking up the company and the board members.

You can ask questions about the work culture of the organization. Or, you could ask about opportunities for the company–or your position–in the future. You could even ask if there’s anything in your bio that concerns them. The list is endless.

Examples of possible questions to ask:

  1. Why is the position open right now?
  2. What opportunities will the position entail in the future?
  3. What would success look like in the first three months?
  4. Is there anything in my bio that concerns you?
  5. What is a quality that you think a person in this position must definetly have?

6. Prepare Useful Feedback

It’s a possibility that during the interview, you might get asked about your opinion on things related to the company. Your response to such questions should aim at letting the interviewer know how well you’ve researched the company & how knowledgeable you are about your field.

This is also a way to test whether you’re able to give constructive criticism without sounding harsh or rude. So, if you feel like there are any drawbacks to the company–or areas of improvement–make sure to deliver them tactfully.

7. Make A Resume Copy For Each Person

This is a great way to show the panel that you’ve come prepared and that you’ve done your research on both: them and the company. This is also an excellent strategy to make sure that all the interviewers are familiar with your background & that they’re up-to-date during the interview.

Make sure to print a couple of extra copies too, just in case someone decides to join in the end.

8. Prepare Thank-You Notes

This is another great way to end your interview on an excellent note. Make sure to prepare a thank you note for each member on the board. You want to make sure that each note is personalized for the person in question, and that it leaves a good impression in the interviewer’s mind.

You can email these notes to each member the day after the interview.

5 Tips To Keep In Mind During The Interview

interview

1. Dress Appropriately

There’s a reason why the saying ‘first impression is the last(ing) impression’ has stood the test of time. It’s because the first impression that you make on a person is, in fact, something that plays a pivotal role in your subsequent interactions with them.

One thing that plays a major role in the impression you make on people is how you dress. So, it’s important to make sure that you’re dressed appropriately.

If there are any special requirements or dress codes in the organization, make sure to check them out beforehand–this will show the organization that you have put in the time to do proper research.

2. Address Them By Name

This might seem trivial. However, it’s something that will definitely impact how the board members perceive you.

By addressing each member by their name, you let them know that you’ve done your research. You also show your attention to detail. Referring to each member by name also increases the chances of you making a personal connection to them, and will make them have a good impression of you.

3. Make A Personal Connection

During your board interview, you not only want to show the panel members why you’re a perfect fit and draw attention to your qualifications, but you also want to make a personal connection with them.

So, try to remember the names of all the board members in advance. You can also quickly jot them down in a notepad for reference. Make eye contact with the members and smile at them. Share stories, and try to find out if there’s anything common between you and them.

4. Keep The Interview On The Right Track

For your board interview to go successfully, you must take proactive steps to ensure that it stays on the right track. If you feel like you’ve hit the wrong note or if the interview is steering in the wrong direction, try to make to go back to the desired direction.

You can practice this beforehand by simply thinking of ways in which the interview could go south, and coming up with solutions to what to do in each specific scenario. Alternatively, you could even ask a family member–or members–to role play with you as the board interviewer.

Make sure you do it tactfully. You don’t want to get hyped up or overexcited. Remember: you want the board members to see that you can perform under pressure, and not lose your cool.

5. Remember To Thank Them With A Handshake

Another trivial detail that might end up making a lot of difference of how the interviewers perceive you. Just like having an awesome closing during any speech is essential, it’s also imperative to end your board meeting on a great note so that you leave a good impression on the members’ minds.

So, make sure to shake the hand of every panel member individually before you leave. Address them with their name. Look them in the eye. Thank them for their time. And, finally, make sure to smile.

Common Board Interview Mistakes

1. Focusing Too Much On One Interviwer

A very common mistake that candidates make during board interviews is focusing too much on one interviewer & not paying enough attention to other members.

While it’s likely that some members might pay more attention to you or ask more questions, you need to make sure that you are involving the other members as well.

Make eye contact with other members, smile at them, even shake their hands at the end of the interview. You want to acknowledge every single person in the room.

Remember that it’s not a one-person interview but a panel interview.

2. Not Asking Questions

But isn’t that the job of the interviewer?

You’re right, it is. But it’s also the job of the candidate to show the interviewer that they’re interested in the company and have done their research on it. To show this, you must be confident enough to ask them questions about it.

So, make sure to prep some questions beforehand, and ask them at the end of the interview.

3. Criticizing Previous Collegues Or Employers

Seriously, you don’t want to do this.

Complaining about your colleagues, or negative aspects of your previous job or even complaining about your superiors are all terrible things to say in an interview–and I can’t decide which one is the worst.

It will make the panel members question what you might say about them in a similar scenario.

So, silence your inner critique. Instead, focus on the positive aspects of your job (we’re sure there were some) and bring them out during the interview.

4. Being Overconfident

We’ve emphasized many times throughout the article that confidence is a must for any prospective employee. What isn’t a must–in fact, it’s most definitely a must not–is overconfidence.

Nobody likes a know-it-all (unless, of course, you’re Hermoine Granger). So, make sure to know how to toe the line between confident and overconfident. While there’s nothing wrong with showing the interviews your skills, you don’t want to show off your skills.

5. Not Following Up

Another common mistake that many prospective employees do is not following up with the company after their interview is done.

Always make sure to follow up an interview with a Thank-You Note the day after your interview. This will reinforce your interest in the position at hand, and also make sure that you remain in the minds of the hiring managers.

3 Common Panel Interview Questions (And Their Answers)

preparing for a board interview

Q1. Could you tell us about an occasion when you experienced conflict with a team and how you handled it?

Answer: While I was working on a project during my previous job, a team member had a tendency to be very hostile towards another team member.

So, to get to the root of the problem, I decided to meet individually with both of the members in question and speak to them. I realized that the best possible solution for the scenario was to get both of them to sit down with each other and discuss their problem with one another.

In the discussion that followed., I made sure to not pick a side. Rather, I encouraged both of them to come to a compromise. The meeting ended successfully, as the two members realized that their problems stemmed from a miscommunication between them.

It happened because another employee had told the hostile member that the other employee had been bad-mouthing them behind their back. The hostile team member realized that this was never the case, and their differences were sorted.

Q2. Why Do You Want To Work For Us?

I have over ten years of experience in my field, seven of which I spent in the place I’m currently working. In these ten years, I have learned a lot about my field, as well as the type of atmosphere where I feel and work my best.

One thing that is very important for me is working in an organization where I truly feel at place and can be proud of. Your brand is obviously highly reputable, and one of the best firms in the field. You have a huge network of satisfied customers as well as employees, as is evidenced by your website.

I really liked your recent internet campaign with Autistic children as well. As someone with a background in psychology, I felt a personal connection with the way you organized your campaign, and your uplifting tone of voice really stuck with me.

While working in my current place of employment has been amazing, I am now ready to take a step forward–in fact, I have been for quite some time. So, when I finally heard about an opening at your firm, I knew I had to apply.

Q3. What Is Your Biggest Weakness?

I believe my biggest weakness is that I am an incredibly self-sufficient person and as such find it quite difficult to delegate and divide work to other people if I find I can finish a particular task myself.

This can sometimes cause me to be overworked and is something that I struggled with quite a lot at the beginning of my career. However, after I took on a managing role in my last company, I realized that I had to find my way around this, as dispersing roles & responsibilities was a key part of my job description.

I worked out a task management system to help myself and the employees under me work & manage our roles and responsibilities better without any stress or overwork. This helped me improve my task delegation abilities tremendously.

Conclusion

To sum up, a board interview can feel even more daunting than a one-on-one interview. This is due to the added stress from having multiple people interview you, as well as the high stakes in question. However, if you keep in mind a few things, your board interview can be just as seamless as a normal interview.

By keeping in mind a few things like knowing your bio by heart, looking up the company and board members beforehand, preparing your questions & feedback beforehand, and sharpening your interview skills, you can easily ace your board interview.

Hrideep Barot is the founder and chief writer at Frantically Speaking, a portal to help people learn everything about public speaking. The purpose of franticallyspeaking.com is to showcase the lessons that he has learned (and still learning) from his numerous stage experiences and mentors over all these years.