Interview questions to ask trustees

It is important when you meet someone who wants to become a trustee for your organisation that you understand who they are, why they want to get involved with your organisation, what experience they have and what their expectations are.

It’s a two-way street

Remember that the recruitment process is about mutual exploration: any candidate worth their salt will be looking closely at your organisation to see if it is one which they really want to commit to, and at the other board members to see if they think that this is a team that they can work with. 

Give the candidates every opportunity to explore these questions, through informal meetings with the Chair and / or CEO, through ‘open days’ or visits to see the organisation’s work in action. 

Be honest

Whilst it is important to ‘sell’ your organisation to promising candidates, always be clear about the challenges and commitment. There is no point recruiting a very risk averse trustee if your strategy involves significant risk; or someone who cannot spare adequate time if the role demands a large time commitment. 

Ask searching questions

Joining your board is an honour and a privilege: 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, always be appreciative that candidates are putting themselves forwards to take on significant responsibility for your organisation, for free. Turn down unsuccessful candidates gently!

Key areas to cover

  • Understanding of your organisation, and fit with its ethos
  • Grasp of the mission, vision and strategic direction of your organisation 
  • Understanding of the roles and responsibilities of being a trustee, and the difference between governance and management
  • The skills and qualities the candidate brings – both soft and hard skills
  • Their capacity and willingness to commit sufficient time to the role

Download our interview questions which is a resource you can use when interviewing trustees.

Visit our guidance about interviewing volunteers for further reading about recruiting skilled volunteers.