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Myth #1: To get the best candidates, engage many interim providers.

25th January, 2018

Hiring an interim is becoming unnecessarily complex.  Put ‘interim management’ into search-engines and hundreds of interim providers come up, regardless of experience or network.

Let’s bust one of the key myths in interim management…to get the best candidates, you should engage many interim providers.

Getting interim hiring right is fundamentally about forming strong relationships. Here are some compelling arguments for keeping it simple and engaging just one, experienced interim provider to help you.

Understanding your brief

A critical first stage in hiring is a thorough, face-to-face briefing with the right interim provider. Experienced providers will tease out the real brief, increasing the probability of hiring the right candidate. But how many of these thorough briefings do you have time for?

Confidentiality guaranteed?

Is the appointment sensitive? Confidentiality is difficult to control with competing providers racing to call candidates. Your confidential brief, in the hands of an interim provider without a network can mean details being posted on social media to attract candidates. It also takes time! The fewer providers you brief, the less chance your confidentiality will be breached.

What is the real cost?

In a non-exclusive arrangement, interim providers may discount their fee to get the business, but some recoup this by squeezing the interim’s rate. The result is a less motivated interim, before an assignment has begun. Engaging one interim provider gives incentive to negotiate fees, if you have a long-term relationship in mind. A stronger relationship means a stronger understanding, vastly increasing the chances of successful hires.

Full-service provider or CV supplier?

Strong relationships with, and knowledge of, the right interims is the only way to deliver quality candidate shortlists.  Using multiple interim providers, you’ll receive lots of CVs from many consultants and spend your week sifting paper. This slows the interview and selection process, as the shortlist is longer and there are more people to communicate with.  Forming a strong relationship with an experienced interim provider significantly raises the chances of successful hiring.  They will help you scope the assignment, specify the interim, brief the candidate(s), set up the interviews and help with negotiations. This is the full service. Otherwise, you are paying for an inexperienced provider to supply CVs without any added value.

longlist of CVs or a shortlist of known candidates: your choice

With a limited pool of high-quality interims, engaging several interim providers means a race to present CVs, without time for real consideration of what you, the client needs.  Forming a relationship with an experienced provider will reap rewards. They’ll know you have set aside time for them to advise and recommend which candidates to meet, and why they match your assignment. The result is a genuine, focused shortlist of known candidates.

Resolution of disputes

Two or more interim providers can present the same candidate; you may have to arbitrate. Sometimes the interim decides to walk away. You’re back to square one.  Working with one interim provider, you will have discussed and agreed the brief, the service, the fees, the timeframe and all expectations will have been managed, with no surprises. Relationships are critical to getting interim management right.

The final decision

When deciding who to hire, multiple providers will compete to promote their own candidate(s) until perhaps you agree to hire theirs!  Having established a good working relationship with an experienced provider, you will have already agreed who the better interims are. The interim provider remains objective about candidates and will help you to make the right decision.


Successful interim placements depend on building excellent relationships, not only between an interim provider and their interim network, but also between interim provider and you, the client. Agreeing to an exclusive working relationship, means that time can be put in to understanding you and your business needs. This puts the focus back to the reason for engaging an interim provider – to hire the best interim. It saves you time and ensures your business gets the interim it needs.  Select from a shortlist of experienced interim providers, asking them in detail about how their service meets your needs (see  Select one, giving them a restricted time to fill the role. You’ll see the benefits of a strong relationship.

Better to engage with an experienced interim provider exclusively; put some pressure on them; ask them to present their two best candidates for you to meet; a one-hour meeting should be sufficient for you to assess if either interim is suitable. If not, move on to an alternative provider.  You’ll have the full attention of the interim provider, they will work far harder for you for the right reasons and will find the most suitable interim for your assignment.

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Author: Nick Diprose

Title: CEO and Founder, Holdsway

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