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Backing up the buzzwords


Both interims and agencies must remember that taking on an interim manager is a big decision and investment for any organisation. However when organisations are transforming and looking to become more efficient, the wealth of experience and flexibility that an interim brings can make it a cost effective and highly successful solution.

People often think that an interim interview is more to make sure there is a personality match rather than skills match- but this isn’t the case. Whilst you may have operated at a senior level for some time, as many roles involve trouble shooting or dealing with a change programme you need to show you have managed similar challenges before.

In order to demonstrate you are the candidate who can add value and deliver the desired outcomes for the client, it is crucial to try to avoid the classic interim buzzword phrases, or at least back them up with solid examples. Too many interims I meet answer questions simply with a phrase, and require me to continue questioning until I get the information I actually need. Whilst I expect this and prepare for it, clients often don’t, and end up feeding back that they didn’t get a firm grasp on how the interim would approach the role.

Some common phrases we hear include:

“I hit the ground running”

“I think outside the box”

“I bring a commercial mindset”

“I’m a safe pair of hands”

“I’m hands on”

“I take people along with me”

“I engage with key stakeholders”

“I see the bigger picture”

I’m not suggesting these are wrong and to be honest, I have often said things like this when describing a client’s requirement. However the key thing to do is back these statements up with a clear explanation of:

- What you’ve done
- Where you’ve done it
- How you’ve done it
- What were the measurable outcomes for the organisation

The examples you may use can demonstrate your competency (ie being commercial), but they may not be relevant to what that organisation is facing, so be sure to research what their challenges are and make those examples fit.

Remember the person you’re interviewing with may well not be a skilled interviewer, and you need to be as forthcoming as possible with this information so they aren’t left with any doubt that you are the right interim for the role.

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