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Interim professionals are more than just immediately available candidates

14 March 2016


We're delighted to welcome Justin Whitehouse, Director -  Executive Interim Management -  Oliver James Associates, as today's Guest Blogger. Here, Justin presents an overview of Interim professionals and the benefits they bring to an organisation. 

A reason for hiring an interim manager is the speed at which they can be on-board; but this should not be the only reason for making the hire. We are seeing more organisations trying to recruit immediately available permanent candidates into interim roles as it is seen as a cost effective way of trying someone before offering them a permanent role. The risks to this strategy are many and should be looked at carefully before embarking.

The immediately available permanent candidate may be a cheaper resource but will they be fully committed to the assignment if it doesn't proceed to a permanent offer? Will they be totally committed to finishing the project if another permanent opportunity arises elsewhere? Will they have the experience to actually make an impact in the short-term?

Professional interim managers bring direct experience of delivering the issues of the client organisation and can quickly adapt to varying cultures, making them highly effective in a very short time. They are not focused on staying longer than needed and are not normally interested in taking a long-term permanent opportunity; outcomes and driving value are their key priorities. The costs will be higher but the outcomes and business benefits will be easily visible after the interim has left.

If you are currently looking to hire a senior permanent candidate, the pool of people and the approach to hire is very different to that of an interim manager. We are seeing clients interview interim candidates as they would a perm candidate with multiple meetings over many weeks. So why is this happening more now? The reason seems to be the belief that if this process is undertaken, there may be an opportunity to convert the interim manager into the permanent role further down the line; this is where the confusion occurs with what an interim manager is exactly. Immediately available candidates looking for either permanent or contract work are not proven interim managers, merely permanent candidates between jobs.

Executive Interim Managers are the catalyst to positive disruption by offering:

Independence: With no historic attachment to the business, Interim Managers provide independent, committed support to the strategic direction of the business with no personal or political agenda. Many business cases are prepared with generic and unclear benefits, making measurement of delivery almost impossible. In addition, if the senior stakeholders have differing interpretations of the deliverables, there is little chance of successful delivery. As a first step, it is therefore important to ensure the benefits are clearly articulated, with both basline and target key performance indicators identified. An independent but experienced perspective can then ensure the programme is aligned from day one.

Fresh perspective: Organisations can often underestimate the scale and complexity of a programme and the associated risks to successful delivery on their first encounter with a major business transformation. Whilst the Interims bring experience, having managed transformations of equal complexity and scale, they are able to highlight areas of potential financial and non-financial benefits much quicker than internal staff.

Proven track record: Using Interim Managers instead of management consultants or inexperienced internal resource, clients have greater control over outcomes, retain intellectual property and help reduce the costs and risks associated with successful delivery. Delivering governance, programme frameworks control and success through their ‘tried & tested’ experience.

Legacy: When utilising any external expertise, there is a risk of losing significant knowledge and intellectual property when the project finishes. Management Consultancies will often walk away with this intellectual property, however Interim Managers will always seek to transfer this knowledge to the current internal staff. By working with the existing employees, Interim Managers have a positive impact on their professional development and support the organisation to successfully deliver future change initiatives.

Justin Whitehouse, Director - Executive Interim Management - Oliver James Associates, can be contacted on +44(0)203 861 9122 /

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