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How do you evaluate interim CFO candidates?

J. Davis's Profile

Interim CFO

What would you take into account, maybe differently-weighted, than when hiring a permanent CFO?


Thomas Aiken
Title: Managing Partner
Company: Cedarwood Partners LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Managing Partner, Cedarwood Partners LLC) |

The ability to rapidly get up to speed by quickly assessing actionable items, staff cabilities, and pending critical issues and reporting requirements to be immediately addressed.

Vivek Dudgaonkar
Title: Finance Director
Company: Columbia Heights Shaw Family Support Col..
LinkedIn Profile
(Finance Director, Columbia Heights Shaw Family Support Collaborative) |

When an interim CFO can identify weakness and suggest ways and means of improvement and or find alternative ways to better utilize the resources and maximize the output (increase efficiency). These could be things like cross functional duties (training) thereby limiting the time of a replacement and the work being done in the absence of such employee. Ensure all the necessary internal controls are in place. Evaluating payroll & benefits and come up with better/alternative solutions that may minimize such expenses etc.

Ken Stumder
Title: Finance Director / Controller
Company: Ken Stumder, CPA
(Finance Director / Controller, Ken Stumder, CPA) |

Just curious why an interim CFO would have different eval criteria than a permanent one?

Jack Judd
Title: Retired
Company: Retired
(Retired, Retired) |

Do they do interim work as a job or are they an out-of-work CFO taking a temporary gig until they get full-time work? Personally I would only consider a person that does interim work as their full-time job. You then will be able to review their other assignments with confidence.

Here are a couple traits I would look for -
1. Getting up to speed quickly.
2. Tolerance and/or skill at lower level work (this will help if things are broken)
3. A collaborative personality.

Good luck.

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, |

I'd add a pro at time slicing different clients and client issues (which is a skill a person who Consults develops).

Joe Faris
Title: CPA
Company: Accountalent Management
(CPA, Accountalent Management) |

Jack, you hit it on the head. Someone making a career doing Interim CFO work has a completely different mindset thamn someone in between jobs.

Jaime Campbell
Title: Chief Financial Officer
Company: Tier One Services, LLC
(Chief Financial Officer, Tier One Services, LLC) |

Although I agree with the quick-results advice offered above, take caution. An interim CFO who is not accountable for longer-term results may sacrifice those results in order to get a quick result.

Find someone who has a stake in those longer-term results as well.

Mark Matheny
Title: VP - FInancial Planning and Analysis
Company: Novolex (formerly Hilex Poly)
(VP - FInancial Planning and Analysis, Novolex (formerly Hilex Poly)) |

I would want someone that shows an aptitude for engaging staff members. You want there to be some long term benefit to the engagement. If an interim, you want some knowledge to be left when he/she departs.

Jeremy Sanders
Title: Vice President of Finance & Operations
Company: Ideator, Inc.
LinkedIn Profile
(Vice President of Finance & Operations, Ideator, Inc.) |

As with most any interim role, there's an expectation that someone else may be hired on a permanent basis, but that someone was needed right away. Because of this, the interim CFO might serve as the ideal change agent. The permanent CFO's job can be made a lot easier if re-organizations and other sensitive issues are addressed, at least in part, by an experienced interim CFO.

Topic Expert
Samuel Dergel
Title: Director - Executive Search
Company: Stanton Chase International
LinkedIn Profile
(Director - Executive Search, Stanton Chase International) |

There are 3 types of interim CFOs

Caretaker - when the current CFO leaves and an internal candidate is put in as a stop gap until the new CFO is hired. If there are no suitable candidates internally, one will be found from the outside (rare).

Test - when a CFO leaves, and the incumbent is being tested to see if they can meet what is expected of them

Clean up - when a CFO leaves (or is made to leave) and there is a lot of clean up that needs to be done.

Ultimately, with any CFO hire, successful hiring requires an understanding what the company really needs. For successful CFO hires, this understanding is they key building block, whether hiring for an interim or permanent need.


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