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6 job interview dos and don’ts

As a contractor, job interviews are a big part of your working life. While they can be stressful, there are a few handy job interview dos and don’ts that can help you stand out from the pack.

Now, the basics for any job interview are: be punctual, dress appropriately, and make sure your Talent Engage profile and resumé have been updated.

Beyond that, the following six tips will not only set you apart from the pack but they could be the deciding factor in getting you the job you deserve. They entail three things you should definitely do—and three things you should avoid—when being interviewed for contract work.

Do: Be prepared

Prior to your interview, do some homework and get a good handle on the company. What do they do? What is their mission statement? What type of projects do they do that will be expected of you? With a little online research, it’s fairly easy to anticipate questions that will be asked. Use the team at Talent International as a source—see how much information they can give you about the project upfront.

It’s all about efficiency. You’ll probably only get one interview, and the employer will want you to hit the ground running. They don’t want to spend time training you or letting you gradually work your way into the job. Be ready to relate your previous experience and expertise to what the employer wants.

Do: Go the extra mile

Contract jobs often demand particular skills. It’s a given that you’ll know the specifics of what the job will entail, and that you’ll highlight your knowledge and experience in those specifics on your CV.

The interview is an opportunity to show both your expertise and your ability to work with a team—both fundamental to contract work. While an accurate resumé and up-to-date profile on the Talent Engage site is essential, don’t just leave it at that. If you have worked on any major projects or headed up any divisions, provide support documentation. If you don’t have them on the day, make sure you send them through after the interview. It’s a good opportunity to follow up on a conversation and remain top of mind.

When suitable, give credit to the team that supported you. This is a chance to blow your own trumpet but also to indicate that your skills dovetail neatly with other team members, and that you’re a team player.

Do: Be present

Interviews are high-pressure situations but it’s important to stay in the moment and not get flustered. Listen to what is said and respond appropriately. Don’t use a question to go on a rant about what you want to say. Focus on the question asked. Only once you’ve answered the question can you see if there is an opportunity to offer up other information you feel may be relevant. And don’t just set your phone to vibrate—turn it off completely. A job interview is the one time when all your attention needs to stay focused.

Don’t: Be unquestioning

Job interviews are a two-way street, not just a Q&A session. You can be certain that the interviewer will ask if you have any questions. Have some. The questions you ask show your interest and commitment to the job and company. A useful question in all circumstances is: “What would determine for you if I have done a great job at the end of the contract?” Their answer gives you insight into the focus and expectations for the role and whether or not they are achievable or realistic.

Have at least three or four questions ready to go, which are focused on short-term goals. Long-term goals are the preserve of permanent employees. You need to show you can do the job that needs to be done now. Be ready for the interviewer to ask a variation of, ‘What are your strengths and weaknesses?’ Sure, it’s a classic but the way you respond can have a far-reaching impact on whether you get the job. Look at the job description and have an answer ready that paints you in the most flattering light.

Don’t: Undersell yourself

Your interviewer is looking for you to come in to offer a ‘missing’ skill set, so be confident about your own skills and how they can help solve a problem for them. You can indicate with the way you express yourself. Make an effort to modulate your voice and speak slowly and clearly. It’s perfectly acceptable to take a moment after a question and formulate your answer. This shows you have a considered approach. It’s also important not to go on and on with your answers. Be succinct but thorough.

Don’t: Forget to close the deal

A job interview for contract work is like a sales pitch. You don’t walk out and wait for a follow up interview. Finish your interview by politely pointing out how interested you are in the position, and ask what the next steps are.

That shows the interviewer that you’re confident you can do the job and that you’re prepared to get on with it.

In conclusion–this is not a permanent position

A job interview for a contract position is not the same as one for a permanent position. The interviewer is less concerned with whether your personality will fit in with their existing employees, or with the broader company culture. They want to know if you have the specific skill set required for the job to hand. There are likely fewer stakeholders needed to approve your employment. It’s fast, functional and very skills-focused. Making sure your Talent Engage profile and CV are up-to-date, showcase your knowledge and why you’re the perfect candidate. The interviewer will appreciate it.