The future success and direction of an organization highly depends on its leader – the CEO or executive director. So when an executive director suddenly steps down, it is the board members’ responsibility to immediately take action and find the next potential executive director for the organization.
Selecting a CEO is one of the most crucial decisions that a board undertakes. This kind of process influences the relationship and dynamics between the employees, investors, and other stakeholders of the company. Choosing a successor often places a strain on the entire management, especially when the candidate comes from outside the company.
So, to avoid seeing your company crumble before your eyes, here are some basic director interview questions that can help you asses if the candidates are indeed executive director material or not.
Experience and Motivation
Interviews usually begin with recruiters going through the candidate’s resume and experiences. In order to get a better glimpse of knowledgeable they really are, follow-up with these questions:
- What do you consider your biggest accomplishment in your current role and outside of the company?
- Describe a time where you had under performed or didn’t deliver what was expected of you.
- Why are you interested in the executive director position? What do you think would be your biggest obstacles if you assume the role as new executive director?
Executive directors are the ones expected to make bold moves and decisions for the company. Most candidates may look good on paper, but it is very essential that you also assess their character and individual qualities in person. Remember that at this stage of the interview process, it is important to determine if the candidates are what you’re looking for and what the company needs in an executive director.
You are looking for people who know how to leverage on their own strengths, but are also humble enough to acknowledge their weaknesses and limitations. More importantly, look for leaders who see failure and adversity as opportunities to improve the organization.
Strategy and Vision
After determining the candidate’s background and motivation, the next part of the interview should cover the candidate’s evaluation of the company and their proposed strategy to drive the company’s success.
- List your top 5 strategic priorities for your first year. If elected executive director, how do you plan on achieving these priorities?
- What are the biggest changes in the industry in the past five years, and how have they affected the company?
- How would you assess the company’s current performance? Which aspects do you think it excels in and which aspects do you think needs change?
From their responses, keep an eye on those candidates who are well-informed and knowledgeable about the industry while being just as invested in the company. These candidates are likely to become more perceptive leaders. More often than not, they are aware of possible new ventures and trends that can drive the company forward.
Be sure to look for someone who has a concrete plan and a sound strategy – not just a grand vision and ideas. Executive directors are expected to, well, execute. Knowledge, ideas, and visions will not be as valuable if they can’t be translated into deeds. Furthermore, the ideal candidate should take into account who will be involved and if there would be any change the company needs to undergo.
Leadership and Communication
After assessing how strategic the candidate operates, it is also important to ask questions that will allow you to gauge if they are capable of leading an organization.
- How would others describe your leadership style?
- Tell us about a time where you took over a team that had been under the leadership of another person for a long time.
- Time where you have created a shared purpose among people who differed in opinions or objectives.
The type of leadership style an executive director has sets the tone for the organization’s culture. Candidates may have different personalities and leadership styles, but what’s important is to find a potential executive director who has an open and inclusive mindset. Look for someone who is a team player, passionate in serving others, and is committed in putting the interests of the organization and its people first, before anything else.
The task of selecting an executive director is crucial because the chosen candidate should be able to drive the organization to success while meeting the expectations of the board, the management, and all the other stakeholders of the company.
The recruitment process can also be very tricky since the result will ultimately determine the fate of your organization. So, as you go through these director interview questions, bear in mind that you should look for people whom you believe are capable of leading your organization to greater heights.
Tune in to find out how to assess your executive director candidates in terms of culture and organization, technological foresight, and good governance in our next article — 9 Essential Director Interview Questions: Secrets to Successful Hiring (Part 2).