Know your needs

One of the biggest mistakes you can make
when hiring an interim worker is interviewing for
the position as though you
were filling it permanently,
says Ronald S. Torch,
founder, president and CEO
of Torch Group Inc.

“They tend to have too many
people involved in the qualification process,” he says. “They
have too many rounds of interviews. They are just unaware
of some of the processes and
qualifications that we go

Torch Group specializes in
executive recruiting, marketing
job placements and interim
staffing and has built a network
of more than 50,000 marketing
in more than 80 industries.

Because a staffing firm’s
job is to fill vacancies in an
expeditious manner, the due
diligence of figuring out what
a potential employee’s skills
and talents are is done well
in advance.

“The whole idea of interim
staffing is to fill a job because
somebody is not there and you
can’t wait a month,” Torch
says. “If you wait a month and
go through an interviewing
process and your typical full-time permanent employment
process, you’re going to defeat
the purpose.”

Before you contact a staffing
firm, make sure the position is
one you really need to fill.

“Assess whether or not the
responsibilities are large
enough and ongoing enough
to warrant and justify a full-time hire,” Torch says.

And if you’re not sure of the
answer, bring someone in on a
trial basis to give yourself time
to assess what type of hire you really need to make.

“If they don’t know whether
they have enough work to justify a full-time hire, they can
see what kind of work is being
accomplished and what the
return on the investment is,”
Torch says. “Oftentimes, companies use that 90-day period
to write and justify a requisition for a full-time hire.”

When it comes to selecting a
person to fill your vacancy,
you should feel confident in
the person’s general skill set, if
the staffing firm has done its
job. But you still need to help
the new person fit into your
corporate culture.

Set them up with another
employee to be a buddy, someone who works well with others and likes to help people.

“The person is brought in
to hit the ground running,”
Torch says. “Typically, what
a progressive company will
do is assign somebody to
this person, a long-standing
employee who understands
the culture and politics and
knows how to get things
done and move through the

“Team them up with this
person so that they can have
someone to go to on a peer
level to help cut through
some of those obstacles.”

In a perfect world, you
should do research on
staffing firms before you
actually have a need so that
you don’t have to rush
through the process. You can
also make sure you’re engaging a staffing firm that is
credible and has a positive
reputation and is an expert
in the field that you are looking to fill.

Interview firms; learn how
they operate. Talk to companies that have used their services in the past and see how
their experience went.

“If somebody called and
said, ‘We’ve never used interim staffing,’ we want to be
prepared if there is an influx
of new projects or if someone
goes out on family leave,”
Torch says.

Ask firms what their goals
and objectives are in doing
their job.

“It’s just good planning,”
Torch says. “So when and if
they have a need, they are not
caught by surprise. They understand what is happening.”

Look for a match

Nancy Stuart says one of the
key advantages to hiring an
interim replacement is the fact
that most candidates can jump
right into their work.

“They tend to be midcareer
people,” says Stuart, executive
vice president and provost at
The Cleveland Institute of Art.
“They are able to quickly assess
a situation and very quickly be
contributing members. They are
not going to take a long learning
curve. I look for someone who is
not going to need a lot of hand-holding. If you have to do that,
you might as well grow your
own, hire internally, or do without.”

You still need to look carefully
at their past experiences, however, when figuring out who to

“We can be very specific on an
interview,” Stuart says. “Give us
an example of a project and a
short timeline on how you handle this problem.”

You should also be clear on
your end as to what your expectations are for the interim
replacement. The institute
recently hired an interim vice
president of marketing.

“They are really making decisions, and they are participating
in the governance,” Stuart says.
“It’s clear that they have all the
authority that a permanent hire
would have.”

The key is that no matter what
the person’s role is going to be,
he or she should have a clear
idea of what that is before joining your company.

HOW TO REACH: The Cleveland
Institute of Art, (800) 223-4700 or