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How to Select an Interim Manager / Executive

The key questions a client should ask a prospective ‘Interim Specialist’ when selecting a suitable, potential ‘Interim Candidate’ is :-

1) Are they a specialist service or merely an ‘add-on’ to a permanent recruitment or management consultancy ? How long has the service been operating ?
2) How many successful Interim Executive Management’ placements have been made? What level and in which industries? Over how long and across which functions?
3) What particular process of selection is used – typically from a ‘hand-picked’ register or a database of unseen candidates?
4) Do they actually meet the clients and develop an assignment brief for identifying candidates?
5) Do they offer numerous C.V’s or do they specifically identify only one or two candidates?
6) Do they in fact know their candidates and if so, how well?
7) Would the potential candidates be fully briefed before an interview and do they attend the interview meeting?
8) How much control / supervision do they have once the assignment has started and do they ‘audit’ the assignment on completion?
9) Would there be a possibility of talking to past clients and does the’ provider’ have preferential supplier status with reputable companies?
10) Finally, how much responsibility does the ‘Interim Provider’ take for deciding upon who carries out the assignment ?

The overriding factor in the success of an ‘Interim Assignment’ is the specific identification of the best available and most suitably matched ‘Interim Manager/Executive’ from the pool of top talent. Often the choice is limited, in view of the significance of these assignments. This is further found difficult by the fact that the ‘Interim’ is required A.S.A.P for an enquiry, not in several month’s time. Immediate full time availablilty of the chosen candidate is almost always a pre-requisite. However there remains much confusion on how best to actually ‘source’ a Senior Interim Executive. Whilst the awareness of ‘Interim Management’ is growing, the critical related service of it’s provision is still a mystery to many, particularly to new users.

The long-term success of ‘Interim Executive Management’ can be seriously jeopardized without a better understanding from clients as to how best they can source a ‘Senior Interim Manager.’ For example from findings from a ’Mori’ pole of Captains of Industry study indicated that only 40% would contact a ‘Specialist Provider. Many would prefer to trust from their own network of contacts whilst others would contact Management Consultancies, even though many of them do not offer specialist provision.

A respected specialist provider would attract all potential high quality executives for a role, they would accurately ‘filter’ new talent and have a successful track record of launching new ‘Executive Interims’ on their first assignment. They would have an ‘ in-depth’ knowledge of the vast majority of quality, practising interims in the U.K, which would be around 1,000 and would be able to refer to a ‘clutch’ of proven, exclusive interims who have previously worked for the ‘Provider’ and are well-known to them. Finally, they would fully understand a client’s ‘Interim’ requirement and have a successful track record of launching new ‘Interim Managers’ on their first assignment. They would have an in-depth knowledge of the vast majority of quality practising interims in the U.K, which would be around 1,000 and would be able to refer to a ‘clutch’ of proven, exclusive interims who have previously worked for the provider and are well-known to them. Finally they would fully understand a client’s ‘Interim’
requirement and have a track record of matching precisely and often innovatively against an agreed ‘brief.’

A respected specialist ‘Interim Provider’ should always be able to offer the very best solution, especially in comparison with informed networking and management consultancies. They are able to clarify the objectives and the terms of reference; advise on the most appropriate introductory process for the Interim to be able to negotiate fees and contract terms and keep in touch during the assignments, to ensure expectations are being met.

Other ‘non-specialist’ Providers do not necessarily screen potential candidates, selection responsibility is shared equally with the’client’, with the onus being on the client to interview a number of candidates and make their own critical selection. Where speed is of the essence, this may not be the most suitable process. They may not necessarily interview their candidates. Following a client enquiry a search by key word is carried out, C.V’s forwarded and frequently at this stage, the provider has met neither the client nor the candidates.

Whether identifying a group board director of a major plc or a sales manager of a small family business, it is better to put the ‘onus’ on the ‘Interim Specialist’ provider, utilising their experience of the interim market, to ensure that the assignment is successful. This is particularly important, as many clients are first –time users of the service and have no experience of selecting an ‘Interim Executive.’

About the Author: J Hadley writes on behalf of Executive Interims - Supply Chain Practice. See:

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