How to Choose an Interim Agency

Norrie Johnston has worked in the interim management sector for over 20 years placing hundreds of interim candidates, more than almost anyone else working in interim management today. Drawing on this experience he shares his top tips for choosing an interim management agency.


Interim management is a specialist, niche recruitment service. Of the 5,000 companies in the vast £1billion UK recruitment industry – only a tiny handful specialise in interim management. So, check that it’s a specific part of a company’s offering, rather than something a permanent recruiter is dabbling in.

Forget Numbers

Any interim agency that tries to impress with the size of their candidate pool is selling you snake oil! With job boards, LinkedIn and web-savvy candidates there is no need to have a huge candidate database.


Everyone can access masses of talent. The really important part is how you draw from this global pool to create a perfect candidate shortlist. That involves a rigorous process – so ask the interim agency to explain their process to you.  If they don’t have one don’t use them.


That process should include developing the brief before they start identifying candidates.

Avoid Recyclers

Ensure that the process includes a wide search – ignore those who quote their ‘little black books’ – a good agency will not recycle the same small set of candidates.

Don’t be Tempted

Do not to be tempted by your current permanent agency into recruiting one of their candidates into an interim job. There’s a huge difference between permanent and interim roles. When you are looking for a permanent employee, you want someone who will grow into the role and can do 85 to 90 per cent of the job. But for an interim post, you are looking for someone who has already achieved those goals. Interims have got to hit the ground running. You need a very different process to select that person.


A good interim management agency should offer to supply a short-list of pre-interviewed candidates within 2-4 days.

Look at the Team

Interim management is often deployed at ‘mission critical’ moments.  You want an interim management agency that understands the world of recruitment, but also the world of business. So, look at the agency’s team – does it include people with a corporate background, who have been in your position, can relate to your challenge and talk your language?

Check the Work

Ask the interim agency who they have worked with – and ask for case studies with named references.


Don’t forget old-fashioned chemistry. An interim agency needs to have a good relationship with you and your business. If they understand the culture and fit there will be a better chance of them finding the right interim candidate for you.

Stay Focused

It may be tempting to spread the net wide by briefing lots of agencies but this may cause confusion and take up a lot of your time. You will not have enough bandwidth to brief lots of agencies well. So it’s better to have just one or two good ones on board.

Power of One

It’s worth considering appointing just one agency. You will get a better service and candidates will get a much better impression of your business. For instance we at Norrie Johnston Recruitment have a 99% success rate with sole agency briefs.

Looking for an interim management agency?  Look no further Send us your brief now.

"We worked closely with Rex at NJR on a new and key, senior management position. He did a great job of turning round a strong short list in a tight time-frame, as well as quickly adapting to changing requirements. Rex was easy to contact and responsive throughout the process and I would definitely recommend working with NJR based on this experience. "

Maria Woodhams, HR Manager Toyota Financial Services (UK) plc

"NJR has supported IMI Critical Engineering with a number of senior interim roles spanning various locations across Europe and the UK."

NJR, Interim Management Experts
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"Rex at NJR did a fantastic job of turning round a comprehensive short list in a very tight time-frame, quickly sourcing a range of highly relevant and suitable candidates. They were also extremely responsive, helping to manage a smooth and efficient process; I would definitely recommend working with them based on my experience."

Sarah Thompson, VP Finance, HR and Operations International LeapFrog Toys
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"NJR are an outstanding company to work with since they understand the need to deliver high quality people but also at speed and with unrivalled client service. What's more NJR have outstanding people who not only understand recruitment but who have fulfilled senior executive roles in all their key sectors on a global basis. So they can instantly understand a client's needs and its culture and use this to source top quality candidates who will be effective on a long term basis."

Rene Schuster, Former Group COO Veon and CEO Telefonica Germany

"Insurethebox is a market leader which needs to react with speed and agility to maintain its market position. To support this Insurethebox requires our business partners to be able to respond promptly with expertise, skill and well-rounded solutions. Rex at NJR has consistently met the brief set, and has delivered."

Andy Haynes, Joint Chief Executive InsureTheBox
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"Rex provided Diageo with a cost-effective, punctual and targeted approach which got the right result!"

Kevin Fairburn, Head of HR Western Europe Functions Diageo

"Rex comes highly recommended. Undertaking what proved challenging posts to fill, Rex got to grips with culture and fit very quickly. Very professional and an easy approach to work with. Most importantly Rex delivered on all of his assignments."

Justin Thomas, Managing Director Bon Bon Buddies Ltd

"Rex played a key role in running a successful talent pool campaign to identify, evaluate and appoint a number of senior finance roles at Legal & General. The assignment brief was challenging: timescales for delivery were tight and we had set a high quality bar for candidates' technical, as well as commercial skills standards. The brief was executed well and involved the delivery of rigorous assessment days. The days not only resulted in the selection of high quality recruits but also turned out to be a very effective and efficient use of the Legal & General senior management teams time."

Lee Dobson, Finance Director, Wealth Division (at time of project) Legal & General
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"Norrie’s firm always provides top quality candidates, often at short notice, in a very professional and client-focussed manner. He is a pleasure to work with."

Chris Rickard, Group Finance Director The Weir Group

"Rex is a hugely talented, proactive individual who takes time to understand his client's needs and provides a first class service."

Atul Sharma, Finance Director GSK Export

"Norrie is a consummate professional and a pleasure to do business with. He is affable, diligent and dependable. He operates well across sectors and brings a wealth of experience to any work situation. I recommend him without hesitation."

Alan McCarthy-Wyper, Director Balfour Beatty Rail

"Rex has assisted me as Group Head of Internal Audit at G4S Plc to place 3 senior roles during a 6 month period. Rex is a reliable Executive Recruiter who identified good quality candidates and made sure that they met the candidate profile before sending in their CVs."

Phil Summerton, Group Head of Internal Audit G4S Plc

"Rex assisted SEGA with recruitment campaigns. I found him to be honest, professional and helpful at all times. It was great dealing with him."

Ben Harrison, Head of HR SEGA Europe

"Norrie has always been very responsive and on two occasions has provided a very rapid and professional service to identify high-quality leaders for Westinghouse. He must have a huge network as he always manages to provide a short-list in a matter of days, of very high quality. I will continue to use Norrie for difficult positions when I need to move fast and guarantee quality."

Colin Brown, Engineering and Safety Director Invensys Rail

"Rex has worked on 2 commissions I have been involved with. On both occasions he has managed and conducted thorough searches with a particular diligence. This combined with highly developed levels of perception, an acute awareness and great people skills has led to being presented with proper runners for the top level posts involved. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend him and will use his services again."

James Sprint, Group CEO Alternative Flooring and Wilton Carpet Factory

"I just wanted to say thank you for your input, support and advice during our first interim appointment. The advice pre-Christmas was excellent, your first candidate was spot-on and of course, we are excited now at having our interim join our team. You've helped to make this process very straight-forward and uncomplicated and I will have no hesitation in recommending your services to others in the future. Thanks again."

Mark Wynn, Managing Director Avonline Plc

"We have used NJR on more than one occasion and have been impressed by their ability to find excellent candidates both quickly and cost-effectively. We particularly like the fact that throughout the process we have the personal attention of one of NJR's Directors who knows and understands our business and it's culture."

Mark Cockburn, Managing Director Cambridge Economic Policy Associates

"NJR's SME service took the brief quickly and provided the experience, calibre and personality of candidates we were looking for."

Catherine Senda, Managing Director Curtin&Co
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"NJR have been outstanding. They truly went the extra mile to assemble a shortlist at short notice, working weekends to interview candidates speedily and arrange meetings on a Sunday. The resultant shortlist was of exceptional quality, any one of the five would have been appointable into the role. I would use NJR again without hesitation."

Stuart Brocklehurst, Chief Executive Applegate Marketplace Ltd