If you have applied for NED roles, interviewed, or exchanged with recruiters and boards, you will certainly have come across the term “fit”. “We think you are the right fit for our organisation”. “You are strong candidate and interviewed well but we appointed a candidate that was a better fit for our board”. Have you experienced such a conversation but were uncertain about its meaning and what to make of it? Let’s demystify the meaning of fit in the NED recruitment process with Elise Perraud, NEDonBoard COO.
What “fit” mean
Fit can mean many things and quite often it is not well defined until the interviews start happening. Because at the end of the day, you are dealing with human beings. There is that element of bias that does creep in. Fit can mean anything from cultural fit, fit with other board members and fit with the gaps that the board is recruiting for.
Carol Rosati OBE, portfolio NED and ED&I expert
If the search is done properly, then the board or nominations committees will have 2 or 3 “appointable” candidates at the end of the interview process. How do you then select the individual that will serve on the board? What tangible and intangible criteria determine the successful applicant? It is not rare for boards and nominations committees to struggle to decide who they want. This is when the appointment may fall down to this word “fit”!
It is worth noting that you may be a good fit for one board but not for another. You may also be a good fit now but would not have been 2 years ago.
Fit and diversity of thoughts
Fit should not mean that boards should recruit members who all think the same way, do not disagree, or do not engage in constructive and healthy debates. Diverse perspectives should be valued and encouraged, because they are linked to better decision-making. Fit should mean that boards recruit directors who share their vision, mission and values. Boards and non-executive directors should be aware of conscious and unconscious bias in recruitment.
Related post: NEDonBoard: Diversity & Inclusion press release
Board appointments are usually made on the basis of whether a candidate is a good ‘fit’ with the existing membership. Based on the homogeneity of many boards, it seems that many of those making appointments (either consciously or subconsciously) conflate ‘fit’ with ‘someone like us’.
Michael Bartholomeusz, portfolio NED, board and committee chair, NEDonBoard member
How boards assess your fit
Your fit with a board and an organisation will be assessed throughout the recruitment process. Your supporting statement and cover letter will provide some indication and clues as to your communication and working style and therefore fit. The interviewers will ask you about the environment in which you thrive and will want to know how you have faced and reacted to challenging situations.
Obviously, there are no “right” or “wrong” answers. Both the board and yourself are assessing if you can contribute and work well together. Be attentive to board culture!
To prepare your application for non-executive director role and increase your appoint-ability, we invite you to visit the NED Accelerator® Programme page. NEDonBoard has used its accumulated years of professional body & institute experience to design a roadmap, focused on practical and actionable strategies and recommendations, for you to achieve your objective to secure a NED role. The NED Accelerator® Programme is an extensive and highly comprehensive non-executive director training that achieves result.
Written by Elise Perraud, NEDonBoard COO