4P square

So your business needs help from an interim manager? How do you start the recruitment process? How do you select the right profile? And what happens at the end of the assignment?

This section guides you through the complete process of hiring an interim manager.

1. Internal preparation

Where do you start when you want to find your next interim management genius? As with many things, failing to prepare is preparing to fail. So it goes without saying that a good preparation is key to success. As you prepare, keep in mind that hiring an interim manager differs from hiring a payroll employee.

Preparation checklist

  • Who will the interim manager report to?
  • What is the overall goal of the interim assignment?
  • What is the duration of the assignement? Realistically, can the goals be reached within this timeframe?
  • What will the interim manager’s main tasks be?
  • What is the available budget for the interim manager?
  • Will you hire a ‘different’ profile on purpose? e.g. specific skills or seniority the team currently lacks.

Have you gone through the checklist? Great, now all you need to do is check that everyone on your team is on the same page. It’s very important that everyone understands why you require an interim manager and what they can bring to the team.

2. Zoom in on the candidate’s desired profile

If you want to attract the right profiles, your job description needs to be spot on. So start by listing all the requirements for the job. This should be a team effort between HR and the teams involved.

Organisations usually require an interim manager for one of two reasons: someone is temporarily leaving the team/company (e.g. maternity leave), or the team/company lacks certain knowledge and expertise.

In the first case, you are probably quite sure about the skills and attributes you are looking for. In the second case, you may be exploring new terrain, which requires a bit more investigation.

Pay extra attention to hard and soft skills

It’s worth noting that, compared to other job descriptions, you might also need to highlight certain hard and soft skills that would ensure the best fit. For an interim manager, a self-starter attitude is always important as you will want your new recruit to be up-to-speed fast.

Now you have the budget and you know he profile you need. So how do you find that person?

“A self-starter attitude is always important as you will want your new recruit to be up-to-speed fast”

3. Choose the right interim management partner

When you have chosen an interim management firm, contact them and explain your situation.

Not sure which type of interim management company to contact? Check out this insightful market overview.

Is it the first time you are working with an interim management partner? Then your company will likely be assigned a dedicated account manager. If you don’t get one, ask for one. Why? Because the account manager acts as your single point of contact to streamline communication with the firm.

4. Meeting and briefing your account manager

Meeting your account manager

It’s a good idea to meet your account manager face-to-face. This will give you both the opportunity to better understand each others’ business. And this personal approach means you will get results faster.

Briefing your account manager

When you brief your account manager make sure to focus on the context, the candidate’s profile, your budget, and the preferred start and end date.

The account manager will record all your requirements, and then get to work to find your ideal candidate fast.


Two frequently asked questions at this point are ‘Will I always get the perfect match?’, and ‘When can I expect to meet the first candidates?’.

This depends on the interim management firm. In the case of 4P square, the answer is ‘We deliver an 80% match within 48 hours, in 90% of the cases.’


5. The talent hunt is on

Interim management firms that are specialised in a specific business domain will usually have qualified interim management profiles on the payroll.

The aim of these specialised firms is to always have a few candidates who are ready to take on an assignment. Are you working with such firm? This can make finding the right fit much easier.

If there is no immediate match, the talent hunters will use a range of tools and tactics to find the right candidates.

What are some of the tools and tactics used by interim management firms to come up with a long-list?

  • Reaching out to the relevant segment of the firm’s network.
  • Browsing their database of interim managers, looking for matching profiles
  • The job application will be posted on the firm’s website, distributed via email and featured in the social media outlets of your interim management recruiting partner.
  • Active head-hunting strategies will be used to gain attraction. For social media this means the company will not only use organic posts, but also sponsored ads.


6. From long-list to shortlist

Some interim management firms might just send you over their entire long-list. But this is far from ideal. Often candidates that are merely a match on paper will also have made the long-list.

Try to find a recruiting partner that will first create a curated shortlist before presenting anyone to you.

This could mean that a candidate would first have to do a face-to-face interview with the interim management firm before they are presented to the client.

This thorough approach ensures that all of the proposed interim managers are qualified, available, affordable, and excited.

7. Remember: no cure, no pay

Keep in mind that the standard practice is ‘no cure, no pay’, i.e. the interim management firm receives no payment if you do not choose one of their proposed candidates. This means you have nothing to lose and only great profiles to win.

8. Time to invite candidates for an interview

When you receive the curated shortlist, the decision is up to you. Which profiles do you believe are a good fit? You can now invite one or more candidates for an interview. At some firms it is standard practice for the account manager to join the interview. Let them know if you don’t feel comfortable with this.

9. How did the interview go?


Are you convinced the candidate is the right fit for you? Great! Then you can hire the interim manager straight away. Or, if you prefer, you can always ask the candidate to come back for a second interview.

Not convinced

Not entirely satisfied with the candidates you interviewed?

The talent hunter will keep searching until they find the right match. Often the interview itself and the feedback will shed new light onto what’s important for you. The talent acquisition managers will be able to use this new information in their search.

10. Negotiating the price

Do you feel that the price is right? If you disagree with the day rate, you might have to do some final negotiating.

Not sure whether you’re getting your money’s worth? Check out this infographic that gives a good idea of what it costs to hire an interim manager.

11. Rounding up the paperwork

At this point, it is time to do some paperwork. If the recruitment agency is working with a freelance interim manager, there will be a kick-off meeting between the agency and the freelancer.

This meeting serves to deepen the relationship, brief the freelancer on the way of working, the billing procedures, the internal training possibilities, and the knowledge database.

If the agency works with someone on their payroll this introduction is not necessary.

Keep in mind that the contract is usually between the client and the interim management firm. Not between you as the client, and the interim manager directly.

12. The start of the assignment

When the assignment is about to start, the account manager will contact the client to get the latest status update. This could just be for some last-minute practicalities.

13. Continuous feedback loop

During the course of the project, the account manager will periodically check in
with both the client and the interim manager.

Keep in mind that this isn’t the case for all types of firms/agencies.

The account manager checks in with the client

Is the client satisfied with the work the interim manager is doing?

When the interim manager is on the payroll at the interim management firm this formal feedback will also play a very important role in their performance review.

The account manager checks in with the interim manager

How does the interim manager feel in their new position? Perhaps they want some additional support?

When you hire an interim manager via a specialised interim management and strategy consulting firm, it’s not only the expertise of the interim manager that you will benefit from. You also get access to the knowhow and network of the company behind the interim manager. In some cases, it can be useful to appoint a ‘sparring partner’, or provide additional tools or training.

14. The end of the assignment

Do you wish to extend the duration?

If you want to extend the duration of the contract, it’s important to contact your account manager in good time. You want to avoid that the interim manager has already agreed to his next assignment.

Final evaluation

When the project comes to an end the account manager will ask for a final evaluation. If the continuous feedback loop worked well, there shouldn’t be any major issues. Nevertheless, it is good to get some formal feedback at this point.

More questions about hiring an interim manager?

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