A common assumption is that interim and full-time hires share a huge overlap in expertise and strengths and, therefore, either will be successful in the same situation. This isn’t an unreasonable assumption, especially when consultants and qualified full-time candidates may carry similar finance and accounting credentials and education. However, this view isn’t entirely accurate and should be re-considered for the benefit of you and your company.
This is an important topic for our team because we want hiring teams to know that choosing between an interim or a full-time employee can be a highly intentional and strategic decision. Knowing the key strengths of both options, as well as exactly what your organization needs, can help you make powerful decisions on what hiring solution is best fit for your staffing needs.
The Difference Between Interim Talent vs. a Full-Time Hire
Finding the right placement is about more than creating the right job description or checking off a list of credentials. While technical skills and knowledge are undoubtedly important, many companies are surprised to learn how interim talent and full-time candidates can offer value to their companies in complementary ways. While these finance and accounting professionals may carry similar knowledge and technical skills, their differences lie in how they view themselves in relation to your company.
An interim hire’s greatest strength will be their ability to jump into a new environment and hit the ground running with little context or training. In a consulting role, these hires are equipped to immediately engage your team and provide relief, expertise, and support in urgent situations. That means you will need to look for someone with all the tools now.
Here’s an example: let’s say your organization is amidst deep organizational changes, your current controller is on their way out, and your team needs someone to fill that position while you solidify a game plan for the future. The best short-term option is for the company to hire a consultant who can quickly drop in and draw from their deep experience to deliver solutions within a specific amount of time. You’re not looking for someone to grow into the role or to be the perfect long-term fit for the position — you’re looking for someone who can be that role, now.
It’s important to note that while interim hires do build relationships and gather context, their role isn’t long-term so there’s a decreased emphasis on growing into the role, as some less-experienced candidates may need to do. Additionally, there are cases in which consultants start as interim hires and then transition to full-time positions. However, this is not the norm.
Unlike an interim hire, a permanent, full-time hire is going to view their relationship with your company with a long-term perspective. The advantage here is that companies can find some leeway in experience or technical skills—a motivated and passionate candidate can learn and develop those along the way. However, full-time candidates are going to be with you for the long run, so it’s crucial for your company to be clear on your team dynamics, work style, and values, as those are ultimately going to be what determine your compatibility, rather than their qualifications.
For example, if you have two applications for a Fund Accounting Manager position, you may automatically sway to the resume with more industry experience. However, the candidate with less experience in your industry, but shows deep interest in asset management and is excited by your company’s values and plans for growth in the future, might just be the perfect long term fit for the role.
4 Things to Consider When Deciding Between an Interim and Full-Time Hire
Many times, companies have various priorities to consider and the best decision isn’t always obvious. However, we want you to know that it doesn’t have to be an either-or situation. Both options can offer huge value to your company at different times. In many cases, the best solution is to seek an interim hire to support your team while you create a game plan for getting a full-time candidate in the door. The key is knowing where you’re at and where you need to be.
1. Are you in a period of uncertainty or transition?
When navigating uncertain times, an interim hire is going to be your best bet as opposed to a permanent placement. Periods of rapid growth or sudden transition can create a sense of chaos or uncertainty, and you’ll need someone who can protect your current team’s bandwidth without shaking the status quo.
One of the greatest advantages of using a consultant or interim hire is that their diverse backgrounds and deep expertise will allow them to drop in with little-to-no supervision or training. Since consultants are also hired for a finite period, you can expect them to take a gritty, full-force approach to their work.
Here’s an analogy: if you’re hiring an interim controller, think of them as a private investigator or a special operations unit. They’re going to join your company, ready to hit the ground running to get the job done. They are dropped in to solve the need and then extracted when the mission is complete.
2. Are you looking for the perfect culture fit?
While your interim hire should always maintain a strong sense of professionalism, their focus will be on delivering high levels of expertise. In this case, it’s okay to go with someone who only meets 8 out of 10 of your culture fit requirements.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for someone who aligns closely with your team’s values and culture, that means you’re thinking beyond the present and into the future. In this case, a full-time hire would be more appropriate, as these candidates will seek somewhere to stay and grow, rather than a short-term relationship. Utilizing a specialized search firm can be a valuable way to assess candidates beyond their resume.
3. Are you looking to make long-term organizational changes?
Sometimes, companies want to pivot in terms of organizational structure, culture, or environment. In this case, a consultant may seem like the obvious choice, as they can quickly identify problems and implement new processes and systems.
However, it’s important to consider that deep organizational shifts won’t happen overnight and will require someone with a growth and aspirational mindset. For example, a client recently came to our team knowing they wanted to transform their organization’s culture and reputation. Knowing that they were at a crossroads, we connected them with a permanent executive hire that would see the new position as an opportunity to build something new. Their new CFO was able to source and create a team with a similar perspective, leading to a huge turnaround in company culture.
4. Are you looking for someone to deliver value now or in the future?
Interim and full-time candidates are both excellent options that can benefit your organization – opting for one set of strengths doesn’t mean sacrificing or compromising on quality. Successfully deciding between an interim hire and a permanent role ultimately comes down to knowing your company’s priorities. When connecting our clients to the best hiring solutions, we often see that organizations need both: a professional who can support them in the present while they look for the perfect long-term candidate.
Knowing the key strengths and differences between an interim hire and full-time role isn’t about restricting yourself to choosing one option at a time. Ultimately it’s about figuring out how to strategically place their unique values and strengths.
We’re Here to Help Make Hiring a Strategic, Intentional MoveAt BVOH, we know that hiring can sometimes feel like a gamble, especially when you’re amidst a transition or looking to make a huge shift. We’re here to empower you through the hiring process by identifying your top priorities and connecting you with the right candidates. Contact us today to get started.
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