QUESTION: My manager announced she’s retiring this fall and feels I’m ready to step into her job. She encouraged me to apply for her job. So far, the initial interviewing process has gone well. I have a second round of interviews coming up and I anticipate that one of their concerns may be that I’ve never managed people before.
I have a proven track record, experience, and am known internally with management across other line of business and externally in the industry I serve. While I’ve been a team lead in projects and have mentored others, I haven’t actually managed others. How do I overcome this lack of real management experience?
ANSWER: It’s an age-old dilemma many people face. How can I become a manager when they tell me I have to have management experience? Surely, everyone has to start somewhere. Here are a few tips that might help you through the rest of your interview process:
1) Be prepared to outline the leadership roles you've taken in various projects. Be specific about how you provided feedback and coached others on the team to complete the project successfully.
2) Outline any outside leadership roles you've had through any board memberships or community service.
3) Provide some examples of how you've won key clients by coordinating the efforts of many people across multiple lines of business.
4) Develop a plan for what you would do your first 90 days the job. Include what you see as the team’s strengths and where you feel there could be further development. This will show them how in tune you are to the inner workings of the group. Something someone from the outside wouldn’t be able to do.
In the end, tell them you feel you deserve the opportunity. Remind them that everyone has to be a first time manager.
I wish you the best of luck.