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How to hire an interim manager

Interim managers are independent business leaders or project managers who work in a range of disciplines and sectors. They are experts in their field; high-level performers with a track record of achievement.

Years ago, it was mainly through force of circumstance that this resource existed but today, things are different. Changing lifestyle patterns, the support of new technologies and the desire for people to be their own boss are fuelling the supply side of this rapidly growing sector. Many talented people want to live their professional lives in this way and there are around 20,000 interims in the UK available for work. 


Do you really need one?

Check if you really need an interim manager or whether the skills you require already exist within your organisation.

Remember that interims speak very openly to clients. They can be objective and won’t be side-tracked into office politics. By definition an interim manager should be hired on a temporary basis and are known for their impartiality. 


Think about your ideal candidate

Have an ideal candidate in mind for the job. Interim managers can offer instant experience and capability. They often know what best practice looks like and may even have had a recent assignment at a similar organisation. 


Use a reputable interim provider

Use one that can find managers with the right balance of management skills, technical knowhow and market knowledge. A good place to start is the Interim Management Association as it has a list of ‘approved’ suppliers who follow its rigorous code of practice and standards.


Don't delay recruitment decisions

The best interims get snapped up quickly so do not delay any recruitment decisions. Interim managers are often available immediately, whereas it could take a minimum of four months to hire a permanent employee serving a notice period. Once a contract is signed, an interim typically needs five working days to fully understand the role and requirements but they can hit the ground running. 


Agree key objectives

Agree the aims and timescales of the assignment at the outset, so that both parties understand their key objectives. Review these objectives and progress often.

Unlike a permanent employee who is typically given time to settle in, the interim manager should start delivering results immediately, identifying quick wins and building relationships rapidly. 

Before appointing an interim manager, have a business case with clear objectives and desired outcomes. Prepare for when the interim departs well in advance of his/her end date and ensure the question: "how will this look when the job is done?” has a clearly defined response. 

Interims should have a clear scope of work and terms of reference for their assignment. They should not be given carte blanche to make key decisions that affect the project without ratification and follow good business and corporate governance. 

They need responsibility to carry out their role without encumbrance but  a responsible Director (or equivalent) should be in place to oversee and approve their activities. 


The need for employee support

Communicate to employees that you have hired an interim and that the success of any assignment depends on support from the business. Ensure employees also know that they can learn from the interim.


Don't compare pay

Don’t compare the pay levels of permanent employees with interims – it is misleading. Remember an interim charges an inclusive rate and does not enjoy benefits such as pensions or holidays. 

An employee can actually cost an organisation much more than an interim. Once benefits like holiday pay, NI contributions and pension are included the real cost is likely to be much higher. Such costs do not apply to interims. Interims are only paid for the actual days worked – often this might include just part of a day. 

Interims should be paid a pre-determined professional day rate via a Limited Liability Company. Payment should be provisional upon presentation of a timesheet or a report from the interim. 

The interim won’t benefit from any other payment from their client, unless they are reimbursed for expenses such as travel or hotel expenses. Pension payments; training costs; insurance costs; sickness pay and holiday pay are not paid by the client, but factored into the daily rate charged by the interim. Interims don’t claim any reimbursement for shortened or cancelled assignments. 

Further information

NCVO helps voluntary organisations cut costs and become more effective by negotiating discounts and preferential arrangements on a wide range of products and services.

NCVO members are entitled to a number of discounts. More information on NCVO membership.

The content in this guide was taken from Russam' 'How to get the best value out of interim managers'. Russam is one of the longest-established recruitment firms in the UK, with a 30-year track record of providing effective permanent and interim management solutions to its clients. It has a dedicated not-for-profit division that has a reputation for high quality and successful delivery. It draws on candidates from across sectors and has a deep reach into the public and private sectors, as well as the social sector. Russam is the oldest interim management company in the UK and is NCVO's preferred supplier.


Page last edited Mar 22, 2021 History

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