What is the difference between Interim and Temporary?


Temporary and interim can at first seem very similar. They both describe something that won’t last long, but they are actually used in two very different situations. Let’s go over those two now.

We’ll start with temporary because it’s more commonly used. Temporary means that something will stop or disappear after an undetermined amount of time. Anything temporary can’t be permanent.

Temporary meaning

means that something will last for a limited time, brief, and is not permanent.

Here are a couple of examples of Temporary:

  • I saw her yesterday and she had a new tattoo! When I asked her she said it was only temporary.
  • We have to fix this roof soon. This is only a temporary solution.
  • There aren’t enough people attending this play, so we’ll have to let some temporary members in to fill the numbers.

As you can see here, we use temporary to describe something that isn’t really going to last. We can use “temporary” in almost any situation where that’s the case. There aren’t really any special circumstances under which you have to use temporary.

Temporary position example:

Anna works for ABC company and is pregnant, she will be going on maternity leave for 3 months.
Someone needs to do Anna’s job, so they employ Mary to do Anna’s work for 3 months. Mary is now a temporary employee of ABC.

Interim meaning

means that something will only last for a short time until somebody more permanent is found.

Now, interim is very different in that respect. Interim is only used in a specific situation, and that’s when something is happening between two other things. Interim is very close to in between.

Here are a couple of examples first:

  • Hello everyone, I’m James and I’m the interim manager until Lisa comes back.
  • After he was indicted they had to appoint an interim president.

From these examples we can see that interim is often connected to professional positions. When someone leaves and someone else takes their place during a specific amount of time. Unlike temporary, which has no fixed time limit, interim is a fixed time period that lasts until a specific thing stops it.

Interim position example:

John is the CEO of XYZ company and suddenly dies. Now there is a problem because someone needs to be the CEO to make the decisions.

XYZ company has to replace John, the best person at that point is John’s right-hand woman called Susan. Susan steps into John’s position until the company can find a suitable candidate to be the new CEO.

To sum it up: Susan is the interim CEO until the new CEO is appointed. You can say that Susan is the acting CEO.

How long do interim positions last?

It could last from 3 to 18 months. It depends on how fast the company can find a better replacement.

Does Interim mean temporary?

Yes. They are synonyms with a slight difference.

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Pappu Sahni
Pappu Sahni
3 years ago

Thank you! It helped me a lot!