Thinking differently about interim leadership

Candidates are spoilt for choice in the interim recruitment market, so organisations must work hard to attract the best person for the job


Image: Istock

Gemma Prescot

Senior Consultant and Head of Interim Management, Campbell Tickell

Much has been written over the past few months regarding the massive changes that the executive labour market has encountered since 2020. The pandemic, continuing pressures of IR35 and what economists have branded as the ‘great resignation’ have created a very unique set of circumstances that have not left the executive interim sector unscathed. So what is the current picture and what are some potential solutions?

Demand rising

While there are candidates who are still keen to secure fulfilling and exciting roles, our research has shown that many have chosen to retire, return to permanent work or are staying in their current interim assignment for longer.

Traditionally, gaps in permanent staffing structures have been filled with interim managers. Recently it has become clear that there are fewer people in the active interim market and potentially for the first time ever, more interim vacancies than candidates looking to secure their next assignment.

For me this was crystallised a couple of months ago when Campbell Tickell was working on four assignments at the same time, with the same brief, for different local authorities. There were only two suitably qualified and experienced candidates to place between them. This led me to question how we and our local authority clients can partner to adapt to these challenges and ensure that candidates choose their assignment and ultimately their organisation?

Relationship key

Historically our local authority clients have released a role to multiple recruitment organisations at the same time to ensure the maximum number of candidates were contacted regarding a vacancy. This often led to a successful placement, but the approach no longer generates the same level of success as there are far fewer candidates for any recruitment organisation to speak with.

Couple this with the fact that candidates are increasingly discerning about which opportunities they will explore and have a wider choice than ever, the ability for your recruitment partner to “sell” your organisation is more crucial than ever.

For Campbell Tickell, the key to promoting our clients is deep-rooted in the strong relationships that we are able to build with them. From our vast experience, promoting any of our clients as an employer of choice is predicated by the quality of our working relationship, the ability to ‘get under the skin’ of the organisation and deliver a clear message about who you are as an organisation, your culture, your people, and your ambitions are all key selling points. We are a conduit and ambassadors, and we take this responsibility seriously.

However, prioritising the front-end attraction (marketing, messaging and branding) no longer goes far enough in the current competitive market. The full recruitment process has become just as important, and selection panels and elected members need to be educated on this.

“More candidates than ever are feeding back to us on the quality of the interviews that they have attended.”

Model behaviour

Increasingly, we have been working with our clients to develop a model that prioritises a high standard of candidate care throughout the process – we work hard with our clients to achieve this. Having clear timescales and parameters around every recruitment campaign (and sticking to them) is paramount and Campbell Tickell can assist with this. All campaigns should have a clear timetable and candidates should be made to feel engaged and cared for at all stages of the process, regardless of its speed.

Interviews have always been the final stage to a recruitment campaign, but an increasing emphasis is now placed on the quality of these interviews by candidates. More candidates than ever are feeding back to us on the quality of the interviews that they have attended, and some have even walked away from an opportunity if they perceive that they have been asked poor questions or the client has lacked structure. At Campbell Tickell we are highly experienced in assisting our clients with interview questions and structure, and this has also contributed to our impressive placement rate.

Executive-level interim recruitment is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ process. If you would like to talk to us about doing things differently please do get in touch.


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