Determining Best Fit: Questions to Ask During the Nonprofit Board Interview

Why do we want leaders who are eager to do good work in the community to slow down and ask critical questions?

These answers might surprise you. 

Board service is time consuming. On average, board service will require between 100 and 200 hours of your time annually. Keep in mind every board member will be asked to serve on at least one committee. As a board member who upholds Duty of Care prep time, review of pre-reads and time spent in meeting will average 3 hours per meeting. To ensure best fit, clarify during the board interview process how often the board meets, how often committees meet and what additional expectations will be levied against your time such as galas and other fundraising events. 

Board service may include personal liability. A key component of determining best fit is risk tolerance alignment.

Red Flags

Walk away from any organization whose response is anything but an assured yes to the following questions:

  • Is the organization incorporated?
  • Are tax filings up to date and all taxes paid? 
  • Does the organization carry Directors & Officers (D&O) insurance, General Liability (GL) and Errors & Omissions (E&O) insurance? 
  • Does the organization have a Conflict of Interest (COI) policy, and is the COI statement signed by all board members on an annual basis? 

Board service should optimize your time and expertise. At BoardBuild we call the above critical questions Red Flags and advise walking away. However, Yellow Flag Alerts, are also good questions to ask during the interview process. Depending on the answers, you might consider proceeding with caution. 

Yellow Flags

Depending on the organization’s answers to the following Yellow Flag questions, we recommend proceeding with caution.

  • Does the organization have a strategic plan in place?
  • Does the organization have a published DEI statement?
  • Do the board chair and CEO have a good working relationship?

We hope these questions will help you as you prepare for board service. And if you have any Red or Yellow Flags that aren’t mentioned here, submit them today.

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