Nick Deligiannis, managing director of Hays in Australia & New Zealand, says interviews are no longer the sole domain of the permanent recruitment process. He advises temporary and contract workers to take as much care and preparation time for meeting potential employers as their permanent contemporaries.
“Many of today’s employers want to interview a temporary or contract worker before signing a contract,” he says. “But these interviews differ from those conducted for a permanent job. While they’re usually not as long, they are heavily focused on your skills. There’s no room for growth and development in a temporary assignment so you must prove you’ll successfully and immediately fill the organisation’s skill gap.”
According to Hays, typical interview questions for a temporary assignment or contract include:
Why are you interested in this assignment?
Before the interview ask for a copy of the job description or, if one isn’t available, ask your recruiter what specifically is required and what you’ll be doing in the role. You’ll then be able to answer this question by demonstrating how the assignment aligns with your expertise and long-term career goals.
Tell me of a time you’ve had to quickly adjust to a new environment.
Temps and contractors must be able to adapt quickly to a new office and its processes. Spend a little time researching the organisation before the interview; tell the interviewer what you have learned about its culture from your research and how this knowledge will help you hit the ground running. You could also explain your strategy for quickly getting up to speed in each new workplace – for example, do you learn fast by asking questions and observing the environment in order to decide how to best fit in? Use a real life example.
Describe how you work with others.
Temps and contractors need to get along well with existing employees, so describe how you work well with a range of different personalities by maintaining your professionalism.
How do your skills prepare you for this assignment?
As a temporary or contractor, your skills and ability to immediately apply them effectively and efficiently are your selling point. When preparing for your interview, think of examples you can share that demonstrate your proficiency for each skill the assignment requires. Provide specific details as evidence of your ability to apply your skills to meet objectives.
Next, expect detailed technical questions.
You are then likely to be asked a range of specific technical questions related to your area of expertise. These questions are usually the most important because they reveal if you have the precise set of skills required for the employer’s immediate short-term need. Remember, they’re hiring external support because their permanent team lacks certain skills that are needed right away.
Therefore, give as many examples as possible of similar work you’ve completed in the past. Be specific when describing your duties, the skills you used and your outcomes. This is your chance to prove you will fill their skill gap and get the job done.
Why do you temp?
Link your answer back to your career goals. For example, do you want to gain experience in a wider range of industries or on different projects? Make sure the reason you provide is valid and doesn’t eliminate your possible consideration for any future roles the organisation may have.
Do you have any questions?
When it comes time to ask your own questions, you could inquire more about the particular project or duties, if the organisation has used temporary or contract staff before and how your success in the assignment will be measured.