This is the fifth and final step in the Athena Guide to Land a Board Seat. Read the full guide for additional tips and stories of how Athena helps women leaders rise into the boardroom.
Once you make it to the board interview round, take a deep breath: you’ve come a long way! Interviewing for a board seat is unlike any other interview you’ve gone through. Athena has gathered insider tips and advice from conversations with hundreds of CEOs and board directors. We’ve supported more than 700 open board seats, and we’ve directly placed women on overs 300 public and private companies boards. Following are some critical tips to help prepare for board interviews and negotiations:
- Over-prepare with extensive research. Discover everything you can so you don’t waste interview time asking obvious questions. Preparing keeps the interview focused on more meaningful conversation.
- For public companies, read the company filings like the annual report and the 10-k, listen to earnings calls, read analyst reports, and scan every press clip you can find. Research existing board members. What are their areas of expertise, and what is their relationship to the CEO?
- For private companies, leverage resources like Crunchbase and press clips. Understand the company’s origin story, founders, funders, and mission. Understand the public sentiment; you can discover this through press briefings, sites like Reddit, reviews, and even lawsuits.
How Athena’s Coaches help women leaders prepare for board interviews
Many Athena members choose to work with coaches on interview preparation. Beyond our excellent board coaches, our members may choose to work with a coach on voice and presence — “how you show up” — ensuring you’re confident, poised, and prepared.
Athena Coach Tissa Richards helps members understand what to expect in the board interview — the questions they might be asked, the questions they should ask, and what’s behind all of them. She also helps them do the inner work to internalize their value and be more memorable and compelling in the interview.
“This includes understanding why to hire you for a role, why to select you for a corporate board, why to compensate you at a certain level, why to listen to you, why to respect you — and a whole lot more,” Tissa said.
Athena Coach Cheemin Bo-Linn is an experienced board director and Nom/Gov expert who helps women create a strategy to get a board seat and navigate the complexities of corporate leadership. In your board search and in the board interview, Cheemin recommends being mindful of story, fit, and selectivity.
“Make sure your story is clear from the beginning [of your application]-connect the dots for me. The objective is to entice me and make me scroll down to see all your outstanding accomplishments,” Cheemin said in an Athena Salon on improving your odds of landing a board seat. “Help me visualize how you would fit in the boardroom and where you would add value. Do your homework, try to figure out who might be leaving the board, and help me visualize how you fit as far as your operational expertise and board expertise… And last, be selective of what boards you apply to so you have a higher chance of being selected.”
Download the Athena Guide to Land a Board Seat to read all five steps aspiring directors should take to get boardroom-ready. Ready to get started on your board journey? Join Athena to unlock the entire Path to the Boardroom pathway.