Korn Ferry Survey Examines Motivations, Priorities of Interim Professionals and Executives

Los Angeles, Oct. 27, 2022 – A new Korn Ferry survey shows that interim employment is increasingly becoming a viable option for executives and professionals, and outlines why many are choosing this career path.

The largest percentage of executive and professional respondents (35%) say their top motivation to work in interim roles is it enables them to begin their path to retirement as they embark on the next chapter of their career.

More than two-thirds (68%) say they would put off retirement to work in an interim role. In addition, more than a quarter, (26%) say they were motivated to become interim workers because they wanted to shift away from traditional corporate lifestyle/politics.

When asked what they liked most about interim employment, nearly half (48%) cited the ability to use their expertise to solve unique challenges.

“As many professionals progress in their careers, their goals may shift from moving up in an organization to using the skills and insights gained over the years to work in interim roles. They are retiring from companies but not retiring from work,” said Randy Marmon, Vice Chairman, Korn Ferry Professional Search and Interim. “Bringing on these interim executives and professionals is also a benefit for companies that need unique expertise such as helping with turnarounds, M&A or introductions of new products or markets.”

The survey found that interim employment is a longer-term career path for many, as 56% of respondents say they have been accepting interim assignments for at least 3 years, with nearly one-fifth (18%) saying they have been an interim professional for 10+ years. More than two-thirds (67%) say they are either satisfied or very satisfied with their role as an interim professional.

“A key indicator of professionals’ contentment with working as an interim employee is if they feel welcomed by the organization,” said Marmon. “Research indicates that when companies find ways to make professionals and executives part of the team, they will be more loyal and productive, even on an interim basis.”

Nearly all (99%) respondents say they feel welcomed by the client/team, and 89% agree that interim professionals and executives are considered part of the team.

Looking forward, more than half of those surveyed (52%) believe the demand for interim professionals will continue to grow.

“As the trend for this type of employment, coupled with remote work options, continues to expand, business leaders should take the time to analyze and optimize their mix of full-time permanent workers and interim talent who can take on niche, hard-to-fill roles in an efficient and cost-effective manner,” said Marmon.

About the survey: The survey of 1,043 professionals and executives who have worked in an interim/contract capacity took place in late September and early October 2022.


What most motivated you to choose interim employment?

My industry favors interim work availability                                                  7%

Interim employment is my path to permanent employment                        19%

Shift from traditional corporate lifestyle/politics                                          26%

Road to retirement: embarking on my next career chapter                           35%

Interim is my chosen career path                                                                     12%


Would you (have you) put off retirement to work an interim role?

Yes                                                                                                                          68%

No                                                                                                                           32%


What do you like most about interim employment?

Flexible work schedule                                                                                           21%

Using my expertise to solve challenges                                                                 48%

Working in diverse environments and teams                                                         23%

Evaluating permanent employment options                                                            8%


What is the top attribute needed to succeed as an interim professional?

Ability to quickly understand, assess and assimilate into the client org.               61%

Having the technical skills to accomplish the assignment                                     12%

Identifying new ways for the org. to accomplish goals                                           10%

Ability to achieve results through influence                                                            6%

Confidence working in ambiguity                                                                           10%


How important is it that interim professionals fit in with an organization’s culture?

Very important                                                                                                        62%

Somewhat important                                                                                               35%

Not important                                                                                                            3%


Do you agree interim professionals are considered part of the team?

Yes, to a great extent                                                                                             39%

Yes, to some extent                                                                                                50%

No, interim professionals are outside experts                                                        11%


Do you feel welcomed by the client/team as an interim professional?

Always                                                                                                                    42%

Sometimes                                                                                                              57%

Never                                                                                                                      1%


Based on your observations in 2022 is the client demand for interim employment:

Growing                                                                                                                  52%

Staying steady                                                                                                        39%

Declining                                                                                                                 8%


What is your preferred length for an interim assignment?

Less than 30 days                                                                                                  2%

1-3 months                                                                                                              15%

3-6 months                                                                                                              33%

6-12 months                                                                                                            30%

1+ year                                                                                                                    20%


How do you find interim employment?

Referrals from current clients                                                                                 57%

Marketing self on LinkedIn                                                                                     40%

Cold calls/cold emails                                                                                               8%

Search firms and third-party placements                                                               59%

Marketing self via thought leadership (whitepapers, presentations)                      11%

Advertisements                                                                                                          5%

In-person networking                                                                                              52%


Do you prefer to work with a search firm or independently?

I prefer to work with a search firm                                                                          76%

I prefer to work independently                                                                                24%


What is your biggest challenge as an interim professional if not working with a search firm?

Finding new clients and assignments                                                                     72%

Back-office work (IT, billing, administrative tasks)                                                 9%

Managing benefits (healthcare coverage, retirement savings)                              11%

Setting billing rates/proposal preparation                                                               8%


How satisfied are you with your career as an interim professional?

Very satisfied                                                                                                          29%

Satisfied                                                                                                                  38%

Somewhat satisfied                                                                                                 27%

Not satisfied                                                                                                            7%


How satisfied are you with your annual compensation as an interim professional?

Very satisfied                                                                                                          22%

Satisfied                                                                                                                  43%

Somewhat satisfied                                                                                                 27%

Not satisfied                                                                                                              8%


With which job level do you currently identify?

C-Suite                                                                                                                    30%

VP                                                                                                                           22%

Director                                                                                                                   17%

Manager                                                                                                                 8%

Professional                                                                                                            22%


For how many years have you been conducting interim work?

< 1 year                                                                                                                   17%

1-3 years                                                                                                                 27%

3-5 years                                                                                                                 20%

5-10 years                                                                                                               18%

10+ years                                                                                                                18%


Are you currently conducting interim work?

Yes                                                                                                                          54%

No                                                                                                                           46%


About Korn Ferry

Korn Ferry is a global organizational consulting firm. We work with our clients to design optimal organization structures, roles, and responsibilities. We help them hire the right people and advise them on how to reward and motivate their workforce while developing professionals as they navigate and advance their careers.

Media Contact:     

Tracy Kurschner



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