The recruitment process

Successful recruitment happens when you say clearly who you are and what you’re looking for, and do so in the right places.

Where to list your vacancy

By using our online service, you can reach thousands of people who have chosen to volunteer, and you can promote this listing on social media too. Opportunities on our website are also promoted on LinkedIn – reaching its millions of highly skilled professional users. You can also use our service to approach volunteers directly who look like they may be a good fit.

Other options for promoting your vacancy include advertising, brokerage agencies, volunteer agencies, local noticeboards and your own website and newsletters, as well as word of mouth. 

Review and interview

As soon as possible after the deadline, review the applications to create a shortlist, based on your original requirements. Don’t be swayed by impressive credentials if the person does not match your needs. Similarly, don’t overlook skills and expertise that could be useful, just because of the way they are presented.

Meet and interview prospective candidates, both to sell your organisation and to establish their capabilities and suitability. Give them plenty of opportunity to get to find out about your organisation, its work and other board members – this could include an open day and/or informal meetings with the chief executive and/or chair.

References and checks

When you’ve chosen the ‘best’ candidate, make the appointment “subject to references and checks”. Always take up references and carry out appropriate checks before confirming any appointment. Also, before confirming the appointment with the candidate, you should:

  • arrange a visit for the successful candidate to meet the board and senior staff
  • fix a date for them to observe a board meeting
  • agree the appointment at the appropriate board meeting.

You can then:

  • tell both the successful and unsuccessful candidates
  • send the induction pack to the new trustee
  • register the new trustee with the Charity Commission, if appropriate
  • issue a press release, if appropriate
  • complete the induction process and carry out a review with the new trustee after three to six months.

Interviewing trustees

Interviews play a vital role in finding the right candidate for your organisation, so it’s important to get them right. Interviewing for a trustee role has some similarities with employee interviews, but significant differences too.

Interview objectives

When you meet someone who wants to become a trustee for your organisation, it is important to get to know them and find out why they want to get involved with your organisation, what experience they have and what their expectations are.

The recruitment process is also an opportunity for candidates to look closely at your organisation to find out if it is one they want to commit to and if the board is a team they can work with. So give the candidates opportunities to: ask questions; have informal meetings with the chair and/or CEO; and attend ‘open days’ or visit the organisation to see its work in action. 

Be honest

It is important to ‘sell’ your organisation to candidates during an interview, but you should also be clear about the challenges they may encounter and the commitment you need them to make. 

Ask searching questions

The right candidate will respect you for conducting a thorough and professional recruitment process, and for asking probing questions. It signals that you are serious about your governance. However, candidates are offering to take on significant responsibility for your organisation for free, so turn down unsuccessful candidates gently.

Key areas to cover

Interviews offer an opportunity for you to tell an interviewee more about your organisation, as well as for you to find out more about them. We suggest you include questions that cover:

  • How much do they know about your organisation?
  • Do they fully understand your mission, vision and strategic direction? 
  • Do they fit in with your organisation’s ethos?
  • Do they understand the role and responsibilities of being a trustee, and the difference between governance and management?
  • What skills and qualities does the candidate bring?
  • Do they have the capacity and willingness to commit sufficient time to the role?

For more ideas about questions to ask at an interview, download our list of interview questions.

More in this guide

Preparing for trustee recruitment

Follow these steps to prepare for trustee recruitment: includes guidance on skills audit and model role descriptions.

Induction and post recruitment review

 Poor induction is one of the most cited reasons for individuals stepping down prematurely. New trustees need to feel welcomed and informed.

How to complete a skills audit

A complete guide to a charity board of trustees skills audit: including when and how to do one, and a skills audit template.


Interview questions for trustees
Ideas for questions to ask at an interview for trustees in general and specifically for the chair of board role.
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