Non-exec roles – Why you shouldn’t take it personally if you don’t get that board job

We work with lots of entrepreneurs to help them to understand and secure Non-exec roles. We also support organisations to find the right Non-exec for them, and many of our team work in Non-exec roles. This series of blogs covers the How, What and Why of securing a Non-exec role.

If you’ve decided to start looking for an opportunity to serve on a board it can be daunting to know where to start. Here are some suggestions on things to do/consider:

Recruiting for a board is like completing a big jigsaw. It’s really important that boards have representatives who can cover a range of skills; the specific skills will vary board to board, but commonly include: Finance, HR, Legal, Commercial, Stakeholder-knowledge, Sector-knowledge.

Board adverts will often ask for people who have all these skills. Whilst it’s true that any board member has to be able to comfortably discuss and challenge all these topics, it is not usually the case that every board member needs to have expert-level skills in all these domains. Usually the recruitment challenge is making sure that the required skills are represented across the whole board team, and that there is succession planning (so for example, if someone is due to step down from the board who has specialist skills, it is important that those skills will be replaced in the recruitment).

This means that the decision of who gets the job isn’t a straightforward matter of application forms and interview performance, but also of matching people’s strengths against other candidates and existing board skills.

This can mean even truly excellent candidates sometimes don’t get the role and it’s not to do with their skills or performance, just a matter of which other jigsaw pieces are in place.


Blog by Isla…




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