Browse Topics:


The 3 Key Barriers to Hiring The Best Interim Executive (And How You Can Overcome Them)

Back view of businessman and graphs at background-1Finding a good interim executive is typically a challenging task. For most companies, recruiters insert the most convenient candidate for the role rather than seek someone who possesses the necessary skill set to lead and manage an organization.. Here are 3 key barriers that hiring managers and recruiters face while trying to find a interim executive.  



Difficulty Sourcing Professionals

Identifying and proactively soliciting professionals who are not in full-time roles and are willing to take on interim assignments is difficult. There is a significant capacity of potential interim candidates but they often mask their availability in LinkedIn or even when networking with companies. Professionals available for interim work will position themselves as still working for their previous company or perhaps leading their own consulting company.


By-Passing The Best Professions Due To Internal Insecurity

The best interim executives have often had significant roles and experiences in their careers. They may have been CEO’s or held the position of the hiring manager at some point in their career. Often the hiring manager can be intimated by a good Interim Executive for fear that it will expose them, put their job at risk, or they will have difficulty managing them. This results in this insecure hiring manager and the organization bypassing the best professionals.


Negotiating Reasonable Fees

The best and most effective interim executives also tend to be good at selling themselves and demanding a high billable rate. Companies often lack the understanding of what interim executives are willing to work for and what reasonable rates are. This leads to either not hiring at all or putting a lesser and lower-priced candidate in place. Understanding and then overcoming these barriers is the key to bringing the best interim executives into an organization.

The best way an organization overcomes the sourcing barrier is by engaging with companies that market and maintains a network of interim executives for hire. By definition, if the professional has submitted their information to these organizations, they are willing to take on interim roles, regardless that their resume has them still working for their previous company. Additionally, these companies often have significant experience with the professionals and can quickly assist you in sourcing 3-5 professionals that are on target.

There are easy steps to avoid the internal insecurity barrier once leadership understands that this unstated problem is actually a conundrum. The key is clear communication from leadership that this is truly a short-term gig. Even if the company and the interim executive are interested in a potential longer-term relationship it’s critical that both management and the interim executive communicate openly and credibly that their desire is an interim role and then to move on. It also helps to define a specific objective or initiative as part of the interim role that has a clear beginning and end.

Negotiating reasonable fees requires first that you always communicate to the professional that they are one of several interim executives the organization is considering. Without perceived price competition, it’s difficult to drive down the rate. This can be independent of sourcing multiple candidates but it helps to actually have several quality choices. Secondly, it usually works best to use an anchoring approach and suggest a rate instead of asking for the professional’s rate.

Using annual salaries instead of hourly rates in your “anchoring” is usually more effective. It’s important to understand that someone willing to take an interim role whether they are really good or not so good has the same alternative to the interim role. That is, continuing to look for their next gig and be paid nothing for a period of time. So, if done effectively, organizations should not have to pay more for a higher quality interim executive and shouldn’t be choosing lesser interim executives because of price.



The key to hiring the best interim executive requires organizations to overcome these three barriers with some simple tactics. The most important piece of the puzzle is sourcing a number of strong candidates and all else follows naturally. Organizations that are effective at this are able to bring great expertise into their organization at an affordable price and can dramatically improve their organizational competencies and performance.


Test, Evaluate Your Access to Talent

About the Author: David Magnani is the President at M&A Executive Search. He helps clients solve problems and advance difficult initiatives by providing knowledge and expertise from highly experienced professionals. Mr. Magnani has 20+ years of professional services experience in a broad number of industries and in various capacities ranging from consulting to managing a $50M professional services organization.

Related Posts

How to Sell Your C-Suite on New HR Technology Read Post The Top 3 HR Leadership Challenges Revealed Read Post Trick or Treat: How to Secure Your CW Workforce Budget Read Post