At its very nature, interim management is a flexible resource, responding to the needs of the client company. As a result,  interim extensions should be seen as par for the course. There are a number of elements that must be handled efficiently in order to achieve the right result for both client and candidate:

Mutual respect

At the heart of interim management is flexibility.  Committed interim executives recognise that their clients face ambiguity and they are willing to make themselves available with a high degree of flexibility.  But this flexibility needs to be respected by clients.  Interims run their own businesses and are conscious of the need to look after their pipeline of future work.


Many interim assignments begin with an initial contract period of three months.  This is sensible from different perspectives. It allows enough time for the interim executive to make an impact on the organisation, it creates a sense of urgency around meeting some agreed deliverables  and there is enough time for both the client and the interim to decide whether a contract extension is of mutual interest.  Given that most contracts have four weeks’ notice on either side, the best time to discuss a contract extension is around six weeks before the projected end-date.  This allows two weeks for sorting out internal client approvals and any administrative documentation.


As and when an interim assignment is extended, it is important to review the assignment deliverables.  The original deliverables are based on the initial contract period, so they need to be revised to take account of a later assignment completion date.  This is critical, in order to maintain the interim’s focus so that ‘assignment scope creep’ doesn’t divert attention away from key objectives and into day-to-day business activities.

Mind the Gap

There can be a certain amount of candidate apprehension around short assignments, especially if an interim is looking for more security in what is still a challenging and competitive marketplace. However, it must be remembered that for classic  ‘gap fill’ roles often the interim extensions happen on a month by month basis, as the business may be searching for a permanent replacement or recruiting internally.

Location, Location, Location

Interims often take on assignments at short notice that involve them working away from home.  While this is a recognised modus operandi for a committed interim executive (as indeed for many permanent employees), it can mean a certain amount of domestic disruption.  There is a significant difference between an interim assignment lasting three months and one that is extended to a year or more.  Interims need to keep their work and family lives in balance and clients should respect the sacrifices being made on their behalf.

Clear Communication

The key to any successful business relationship is trust built on good communication.  An interim assignment is no different.  Provided both client and candidate are clear and straightforward with each other from the outset, any potential difficulties can be worked through.

Share Your Thoughts on Interim Extensions

Have you had any interesting experience with interim extensions? Is there any other tip for interim extensions that you would like to share? Please comment below.

photo credit: Victor1558 via photopin cc

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  • Charles Taylor

    My last interim role (initially 6 months) rolled over for 3 and a half years. Whilst enconomically and intellectually profitable it did impact on my other clients and pipeline. After a 3 month break I am just getting back into to the sort of role that I want. So my recommnedation is think very carefully about extending and perhaps keep a few days aside for prospecting. Charles Taylor(

    • Nigel Young

      Yes - good point, Charles!

  • andrew

    In 13 years of being a professional interim, every original assignment has been for 6 weeks or 3 months in reality they have been 3.5 years, 6 months, 4 years,2.5 years, 1.25 years, 2 months and currently week 0f 13 but extension indicated and under internal approval negotiation. Every time I have confirmed my commitment to the initial period unreservedly, but the client then seems to enjoy my inpiut to their needs but we are honest with each other when that need is fading.
    It is a matter of trust between two commercial organisations through a personal service by professionals.
    When renewing I agree new objectives are important as is flexibility on both parts. I have no problem in asking for a review after a lengthy period as it is only reasonable to stay at or near market rates.
    When it does come towards the end, be gracious and work just as hard to find that next client/assignment.
    Smile, you chose this way to work not the client!

    • Nigel Young

      Thanks, Andrew. We appreciate your input. In many ways, the word ‘interim’ is interchangeable with ‘flexibility’.