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How Holdsway cultivates the cream of the interim crop

1st April 2021

“Body language and tone of voice – not words – are our most powerful assessment tool.” Christopher Voss

At Holdsway, we rigorously assess our interims to ensure we know them really well before recommending them for assignments.  A vital part of this process is meeting the interims, finding out what makes them tick and assessing them against the key competencies(1) we have identified for interim executives.  For us, a CV is a starting point, but only a snapshot, nothing compares with speaking with a person face-to-face.

Over fifty years ago, psychologist Albert Mehrabian(2)  found that 55% of the impact of our communication came from body language, 38% from the tone of voice, but only 7% from the words themselves.  More recently, a neurological study(3) indicates synchronisation of brain activity between people having a face-to-face conversation.  This doesn’t happen when someone is delivering a monologue, in the absence of non-verbal cues and certainly cannot be gleaned from reading a CV.  Above all, face-to-face interaction helps with building trust, rapport and understanding.

One of Holdsway’s core values is our focus on relationships with people: our clients, our interims and our partners.  Although we’ve already met hundreds of interims in person as part of our interview process, since the first lockdown, we’ve turned to Zoom and Teams, the closest substitute.

Ensuring we have face-to-face meetings with interims and communicating with them is central to the way we do business.   It gives clients the confidence that Holdsway only ever provides a short-list of interims who we guarantee are the ‘cream of the crop’.

Mary Murphy, MSc Psychology


(1) Read in more detail about interim competencies in our research paper published in partnership with Surrey Business School.

(2) Mehrabian, A., & Weiner, M. (1967). Decoding of inconsistent communications. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 6, 109-114.

(3) Jiang, J., Dai, B., Peng, D., Zhu, C., Liu, L., & Lu, C. (2012). Neural synchronisation during face-to-face communication. Journal of Neuroscience, 32(45), 16064-9,  DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2926-12.2012.

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