6 questions your clients need to ask potential contract employees


Companies have a short window of time to get to know potential employees, so it’s important that they get straight to the heart of the conversation. As a recruiter, your clients may turn to you for advice on what to ask candidates at interview.

While there are basic things that every application process should cover, questions will vary according to the type of employee firms are looking to recruit – especially if your client is seeking for a contractor to fill a particular role.

Temporary and fixed-term contract workers often have a short amount of time to meet a specific objective, so finding the right candidate is critical. To help your clients recruit successfully, here are six suggested questions they should ask at interview – which you may even wish to cover as part of your own pre-interview screening process.

Question 1: why are you looking for a temporary or contract role?

There are many reasons that people choose to take on short-term opportunities rather than look for permanent work. Some like the variety and learning experiences of working for multiple organisations; others like to add value quickly and really make a difference.

It’s important to assess whether contract employees are motivated by positive change, or they have trouble committing to a role. Questioning their motivation is a great way to syphon off anyone who sees contract employment as an ‘easy’ or ‘soft’ option.

Question 2: how do you think you could add value to the advertised role?

As we’ve already mentioned, fixed-term contractors tend to be brought in to meet a specific brief, and therefore they need to deliver results quickly. While it’s important to look at candidates’ previous experience, your clients also need to understand how they can use the expertise they’ve acquired to hit the ground running.

Sometimes seemingly left-field interviewees can end up being the right person for the job, if they can explain how their skills and strengths are relevant. So, make sure your clients quiz candidates on how they will put past experiences to work in this new opportunity, rather than just going over what they’ve done before.

Question 3: have you ever been in a work situation where you’ve had to adapt quickly to a new situation or changing circumstances?

Adaptability is critical to temporary staff, as they need to roll up their sleeves and get stuck in as quickly as possible. A good candidate will be able to provide examples of professional situations in which they’ve delivered value quickly – even if it’s in a different industry.

Just as experience doesn’t tell the whole story, attitude can often make up for a shortfall in technical knowledge. If a potential contractor can show an aptitude for learning new skills and processes then they might be a better fit than a candidate who knows the industry or software your clients use, but is resistant to change.

Question 4: how would you describe your communication style?

A good contract worker doesn’t just get on with their own job; they’re able to function as part of a team, and a crucial element of good teamwork is the ability to communicate with others.

Getting your clients to quiz candidates on their communication style is a great insight into the role they could play within a group dynamic. It also gives them the chance to think about whether this style would complement potential colleagues – as there’s a fine balance between being clear and concise, and ruffling feathers in the office!

Question 5: how do you stay motivated in a temporary position?

As we mentioned earlier, if temporary employees view short-term contract work as a ‘soft’ option, they’re not likely to put in the effort and graft your clients need to see results. Your job is to help them find self-motivated candidates that will continually add value.

Good contractors will often have tools and techniques in their skillset for staying motivated, whether that’s setting daily or weekly goals, or pushing themselves to learn a new skill in each role they take on. Even frivolous aims like learning how the rest of the team take their tea can help to integrate them with new colleagues and feel part of your client’s business.

Question 6: what would you hope to accomplish in your first week of this role?

By the time they reach this point in the interview, your client will have a good idea whether a contractor is right for a position. This final question is more to set the tone for the advertised role, so that both employee and employer set off on the right foot.

Temporary and fixed-term contract workers are often under pressure to deliver quickly, but most companies recognise that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Encouraging new hires to be honest about what they hope to achieve as they settle into a short-term role can manage the expectations of their future manager, and give your clients a sense of how they will break bigger objectives into step-by-step learnings.

ETZ’s knowledge of the recruitment industry comes from helping hundreds of recruitment agencies to build better businesses. Our back office software automates key admin tasks associated with running a busy agency – including timesheet submission and invoice filing – so that you can focus on matching contractors with clients. Request a demo to find out more.

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