What’s in a name? Contractors, Interim Managers and Consultants

May 19th 2023 | Posted by Phil Scott

If put on the spot, could you as a hiring manager, or business leader, describe the difference between a contractor, interim manager or consultant?

Truth be told, many employers would struggle. But they do each fulfil different roles within a business. And when the pressure’s on to deliver results to a specific standard, or within a certain deadline, it’s certainly worth knowing exactly who you need before hiring a new member of staff. In reality, the onus is on you to choose the ideal person for the job, to get the best outcome.

With that in mind, we’ve compiled a quick user guide to each role, helping you decide on the right fit for your business.


These specialists are best for when you need to fill a gap in the team when it comes to a specific skillset. This may be practical, or technical, for the duration of a certain project, and they’re generally hands-on positions.

The key point to remember with contractors is that they can be hired for a designated amount of time, usually for a fixed amount of days, until the project is complete. This gives the hiring company the benefit of drafting in the skills they’re missing, in a cost effective way and without wastage.


Similar to contractors, consultants provide the skills, or services needed to complete a designated project. Consultants are not there in a leadership capacity. Instead, they’re generally hired to provide the latest insights into a specialist business area.

In a nutshell, this means they generally don’t deliver work, like contractors do, for example. They hold more of an advisory position over the course of a critical project and may not be in the business day-to-day. They also provide their own equipment and insurance.


The time to use an interim manager is when leadership expertise is needed. For example, to cover a vacant, senior role for a set amount of time. That may be for a strategic reason, to implement a project that will only run for a temporary period, or for circumstances like maternity leave.

In broad strokes, interim roles are generally full time, unlike contractors and consultants and its main purpose is to provide managerial experience.


Each role has a different focus and remit. And as the hiring manager, it makes sense for you to understand the purpose and benefits to each. Remember, for contracts needing a specific skillset it’s time to recruit a contractor. For advice on a particular project rather than hands-on work, think about drafting in a consultant. And for leadership expertise on a temporary basis, it’s time for an interim manager.

With these points firmly in mind, you’ll never be unsure what you’re asking your recruitment agent for again.