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 through.”
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 organization.
“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 hire.
“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 www.cia.edu