How to prepare to interview for a temporary position

Sarah K. White

Temporary jobs are on the rise. According to research from CareerBuilder and Economic Modeling Specialist Intl., nearly three million people are employed in a temporary job with a projected 173,478 additional temp jobs expected to open up from 2016 to 2018. The study found that 47 percent of companies plan to hire temporary or contract workers in 2016, and just under 60 percent of that group also plan to consider transitioning temporary workers to permanent employees at some point. Tech jobs are at the forefront of temporary work, with computer service representatives, computer user support specialists, software developers and application developers expected to see the most growth in contract jobs.

In some ways, the interview process for a temp or contract job is similar to that of a full-time job. Come prepared with resumes, arrive 10 or 15 minutes early and dress appropriately in a suit or appropriate outfit. Be sure to research the company ahead of time, ask specific questions that show you are listening to the interviewer and follow up in a timely fashion after the interview. However, although the actual process looks similar on the surface, the context of the interview is dramatically different for a temp job compared to a full-time job.

Hiring for a specific skill

If you're applying for a full-time role, you'll likely find a broader set of relevant skills and expertise on the job listing, but there is typically some flexibility in certain areas. For example, you might see a long list of requirements on a full-time job listing with a number of desired skills for the job. Typically, you don't actually need to have all 15 skills the job requirements list, and employers are often willing to hire someone passionate with most of the right background.

However, with part-time gigs, businesses are usually looking to fill a very specific and immediate need, says Jane Davis Long, principal staffing Manager, Accounting, Finance & Administrative at WinterWyman Contract Staffing. She says that with full-time employees, businesses are more likely to hire someone who can "grow into" a role, rather than jump right in. But with temp workers, they often need you to get right into the work they have lined up.

"There is more of a focus on the commitment to the project and duration itself during a temp job than to the company or the team. Hiring managers care more about a candidate's knowledge of specific software and their ability to complete specific tasks than their domain expertise, business acumen or, even in some cases, their culture fit with the rest of the team," says Paul Wallenberg, Team Lead, Technology Services at LaSalle Network, a national staffing and recruiting firm.

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