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How to prepare to interview for a temporary position

Sarah K. White | June 7, 2016
In many ways interviewing for a contact position follows the same rules as interviewing for a full-time job, but there are several significant differences. Here’s how to prepare for a contract role in the gig economy.

Hone your research

When interviewing for a full-time job, you can get away with some general research on the company - as long as you have a solid understanding of what they do and their place in your industry. But for temp-jobs, you will want to hone in on the specific role you're interviewing for, says Davis Long.

The interview process for temp jobs moves quickly, because they're trying to fill a role as soon as possible, whereas interviewing for a full-time job can oftentimes span months. "Learn what you can about the specific challenges of the role you'll be performing, and how your skills and experience can help the organization meet the challenges. Also, be sure to visit the company website to determine if you can articulate what they do," says Davis Long.

Davis Long suggests giving specific examples of your work, focusing on "similar work you've done in the past," the technology you're familiar with, different processes you've developed and projects you've completed in the past. Go into great detail to show them that you fully understand the role at hand to show how confident you are that you'll be able to dive right into the work

References at the ready

Since the interviewing process will move faster for a temporary job, Wallenberg says to have everything ready to go the day you arrive for your first meeting. That includes references, examples of your work, your salary negotiations and anything else that you will need to get the ball rolling. With a full-time interview, it's OK to send the references after the fact, and follow up with other relevant information after the initial interview - but not with a temp job.

"Interviewing for a temp position is a quicker process than interviewing for a full-time job, be proactive and be ready to provide references right away. LinkedIn recommendations are not the same thing as references to a hiring manager, so if you want to use your LinkedIn recommendation, be sure they are willing to talk about your work product. Additionally, the best references are people who have directly supervised you in the past, not peers or stakeholders," he says.

Wallenberg says that if you don't have a managerial reference, hiring managers might see that as a red flag - especially if you have a long history of temporary work. If you can't get references, even if it's just because of company policies, ask for letters of recommendations instead. You'll not only look prepared, but you'll cut down on the amount of follow-up after the fact, which will only help your chances over other candidates who didn't come prepared.

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