Interviewing for board recruiters


  1. Make sure your process, attributes and filters are appropriate to the level you are recruiting for. They reflect directly on you
  2. Define your interview process up front and let people know what they are committing to. Keep to this and the timescales you set out
  3. Have some clearly stated skills and behavioural attributes which you are seeking and share them with your candidates before you interview them so they know what you are looking for – surprises are for children’s parties
  4. Be clear on what are essential attributes, but be open on the rest, you will be surprised what options evolve as a result
  5. Communicate the dress code, even for video conference


  1. Have your essential requirements documented simply and clearly. Be clear on what are essentials or deal-breakers, but be open on the rest, you will be surprised what options evolve as a result
  2. Try to put candidates at ease, you will find out much more; show respect and be polite; never interrupt or argue
  3. Remember that interviewing is not natural for either side and nerves can affect anyone, no matter how senior
  4. Prepare carefully. Try to interview at a time of day when you feel at your best and ensure that you have had a chance to take a rest from the day job beforehand. You must not seem rushed or exhausted
  5. Avoid using negative words. Practise talking in a positive way
  6. Smile occasionally and appropriately (even if you are only on the phone) – it makes a huge difference
  7. If you are on a video conference, when speaking, look into the camera (make sure you know where it is!) and glance occasionally at your audience for your cues – it is much more engaging to attempt eye contact. Gesture and move normally, as long as you don’t move around in the frame excessively – animation is good. Think about your background (visually) and ensure there is no background noise. Remember mechanical noises particularly are amplified by AV equipment
  8. Don’t use ‘in house’ or cliquey language or jokes – it excludes outsiders
  9. Try to avoid referring to money face to face as it is an emotive subject, particularly for the candidate. Use you recruitment agency referrer as an intermediary if there is one
  10. Always respect information shared in confidence, confidentiality agreements and implied confidentiality
  11. Work within the laws of the relevant jurisdiction(s), keep records as required and anticipate the need for visas etc. including evidencing for compliance purposes
  12. It is critically important to RESERVE JUDGEMENT and properly evidence any opinions you develop
  13. Everyone thinks they are body language experts – they are often wrong, so don’t over-interpret, be positive and upbeat throughout
  14. Give clear, positive feedback to candidates who have flattered you by committing to the process, it is good for your reputation (even if they are not right for you, you can show appreciation for their skills). Refer to ‘good points’ and clarification or ‘improvement points’ rather than negatives.
  15. You are choosing a senior employee – they are seeking a mandate in the job, ensure that you establish these as being categorically mutually beneficial
  16. Remember that candidates who do not get the job will be either advocates or critics – make sure you influence that outcome in your favour, it is a small world and a smaller sector