Interview Advice: Contractors

If you’re like most people and have been working since your later teen years it is safe to say you have some interview experience under your belt. Typical interview questions include asking about your strengths and weaknesses, conflict resolution scenarios, what your learning style is like, and whether you work better within a team or individually. Most of those questions are not very hard to answer. The following is the #1 topic brought up by Hiring Managers looking to fill a temporary/ contract roles. We will examine possible answers and tell you exactly why they do not work out/ will work out.

When providing candidates with interview advice I generally make it very clear that they should demonstrate interest and passion for the role. Because we work with a few prestigious companies most contractors want to land a role there to ‘get their foot in the door’. Which is definitely an excellent idea for the candidate career wise. However ‘getting my foot in the door’ is the last thing the Hiring Manager wants to hear. The Manager will interpret your response as, “I don’t really care what I do as long as I work here so I can leave the role I’m interviewing for and begin a new one that I really am interested in.” The Hiring Manager wants to know that you are genuinely interested and passionate about the role at hand. Do as much research as possible to find out what the Hiring Manager’s group or department is all about, their current projects, corporate culture, any scientific literature about new products they are developing etc. Make sure you also look into the company. As always you should look into the company’s vision statement and core values to make sure that your answers reflect the core values of the company. Align yourself with the company as if you were already hired.

Through the grape vine I heard the question, “What will you do after this contract is complete?” and for the first time I can truly say my colleagues and I were all stumped at an interview question. The trick to any and all interview questions (and everything in life really) is to practice, practice, practice. Ask yourself these questions at home and think of all possible answers and what you are implying when you answer them. You want to address 3 things: a) that you are very excited about the opportunity at hand because what you will be doing involves one of your passions b) at the same time you are also happy that the manager took the time to interview you and the possibility of joining that company would be wonderful to your long term career goals c) perhaps if a role becomes available internally and your contract is coming to a close you might apply if the role is relevant to your work. This way you are hitting all possible angle and addressing every concern. However, don’t focus very much on what you will be dong after the contract. Redirect the question in a way that you can let the Manager know that you are interested in the role at hand.

As always don’t forget to ask when the Manager will be making a decision and when you can expect to hear back. This question struck a chord with me; given the nature of my role I believed I had answers for all interview questions. However it took several minds to concoct the perfect answer. Move forward with your dream and aspirations and be sure to practice for interviews!