If you’ve ever been interviewed for a temporary job, you’ll know how different it is from interviews for permanent positions. With the focus on job skills rather than career plans, and an overarching emphasis on adaptability and stress management, temp job interviews are designed to evaluate the suitability of the candidate at the present moment than judging them on their future potential.
This difference in the nature of the two interviews implies that candidates must adopt a different approach for each of them. Below we discuss some of the common mistakes that candidates make while interviewing with a temporary employer. Use them as an aid to your interview preparation to avoid the common pitfalls.
1. Putting the focus on long-term goals
Temporary job interviews are all about the here and now. Hence, the key is to focus on how you can be useful to the company at the present moment. This focus on immediacy is a key difference vis-à-vis selection interviews for permanent roles, where a good part of the conversation is dedicated to one’s career plans and growth opportunities within the organisation in the coming years. Candidates used to interviewing for permanent positions would do well to cut out all references to long-term plans and focus on what they bring to the table in the current context.
The key is to draw attention to your skills and attributes and highlight how these will enable you to perform your duties efficiently to meet the expectations set by the employer. A great way to do this is to read the job description carefully and link each point back to your skills and experience.
2. Not highlighting adaptability and ability to handle pressure
Besides job skills, employers are also looking for adaptability and stress management skills. The ideal temp is someone who settles down immediately, gets to work, and starts generating ROI from the first day itself. For that to happen, they must possess attributes such as focus, adaptability and the ability to work well under pressure, to help them deliver the results expected of them.
The candidate’s ability handle pressure is particularly important given the fact that temps are usually called in under stressful situations, such as to meet seasonal demands or complete project deadlines. To be successful in the interview, candidates must highlight these aspects of their personality with appropriate examples. Not focussing enough on highlighting these soft skills prevents the interviewer from access to critical information, thus affecting your chances of landing the job.
3. Sharing too much information
Irrespective of what the question is, it is never a good idea to share too much information! Doing this makes you seem boring to the interviewer, but also exposes you to the pitfalls of inadvertent candour. It is not unusual to see candidates get carried away in an interview, offering more information than what is required. The best strategy is to answer each question honestly and to the point without “spilling the guts”.
4. Negative body language
Heard the adage about communication being 93% non-verbal and 7% verbal? Well, that data may be up for debate, but what is definitely true is that body language plays a vital part in influencing the outcome of an interview. Slouching, failure to maintain eye contact, shaking your legs etc. are likely to leave the interviewer unimpressed irrespective of your suitability for the role.
Always project positive body language in an interview by ensuring the following:
- Firm handshake
- Keeping your legs still
- Maintaining good posture
- Maintaining eye contact
- Smiling, nodding, and generally making an effort to respond positively to the interviewer when s/he is speaking
Negative body language sends the wrong message by portraying candidates as inattentive, disinterested, nervous, anxious, disdainful etc., affecting their chances of selection.
5. Not asking the right questions
When it comes to temporary jobs, not asking the right questions when you get the chance could cost you dearly. Differing perceptions between the employer and the agency regarding the job role is not at all unusual and may lead to great trouble for the temp in the future. Hence, it is important to be absolutely certain regarding the terms and conditions of the job by cross-checking the important details.
Some of the questions you should ask the employer are:
- What are my duties and responsibilities?
- What is the duration of the assignment?
- Is there a chance that the position could be converted into a permanent one sometime in the future (temp-to-hire)?
- Will you be providing any training?
- Do I need to get my own tools and equipment?
Provide Relevant Answers
The secret to succeeding in a temporary job interview lies in understanding what employers are looking for and providing relevant answers. Candidates that are used to interviewing for permanent positions may need to reorient their thinking to grasp the needs and requirements of temporary employers. At the same time, interview best practices like turning up on time and dressing well should be strictly adhered to.
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