The job interview is arguably the toughest part of the hiring process irrespective of the job profile. The sheer thought of facing an interviewer—or indeed an interview panel—in a totally unrehearsed setting where you open yourself up for questioning can send shivers down the spine of even the most experienced professional.
But since job interviews are an integral part of the recruitment process for all types of positions—including temporary ones—it is prudent to prepare yourself as far as possible to have the best chance of getting selected. In the following paragraphs, we will discuss some of the common questions that are asked at temporary job interviews—along with the best means to answer them—to make the interview experience easier for you.
1. Tell me about yourself
Usually the first question in an interview, it can often stump the candidate. After all, describing yourself in five or ten sentences is no easy task. But answering it becomes easier once you know the objective of the query—which is using the question as an ice-breaker. A good answer involves the use of a three-pronged strategy as described below:
- Start with a summary of your career and qualifications
- Enunciate your strengths
- Mention your career goals and explain how it ties in with the current opportunity
Remember to keep your answer strictly professional, i.e., avoid speaking about your personal interests, hobbies etc. Spend no more than 2-3 minutes on tackling this question—it can get boring after that!
2. Why are you interested in this assignment?
Here, the interviewer wants to gauge how much you know about the role and whether you are genuinely interested in it. Although you have already expressed your interest to the temping agency, which has sent you for the interview, the employer would want to assess your interest levels for themselves while evaluating your candidature.
To come up with a credible answer, you will need to read the job description carefully, align it with your skills and experience, and develop a framework where the job opportunity fits into your overall career trajectory. Some parts of this answer may overlap with the previous one, so use this opportunity to elaborate further. Don’t forget to read up about the company (see their website, social media handles, news mentions etc.) to convey to the interviewer that you are knowledgeable about the business.
3. Do you have all the mandatory skills required for the position?
Temps are required to hit the ground running. Hence, it is important for the employer to know that you are equipped with the necessary skills and abilities to be able discharge your duties from Day One itself. While your CV may already list your skills and competencies, and you may have also undergone preliminary screening by the temping agency with vis-à-vis the current opportunity, the employer will want to verify your professional expertise. This particular question could be followed by specific technical queries designed to assess your professional skills and capabilities, so be prepared.
4. Describe a difficult situation you faced at work and how you dealt with it
This is a behavioural question designed to assess how you respond to pressure. Behavioural questions are best answered using the STAR format where S denotes ‘situation’, T denotes ‘task’, A signifies ‘action’ and R, ‘result’. This framework requires candidates to start by describing the larger situation, move on to mentioning the specific task they had to perform, define the approach/action undertaken, and conclude by describing the result of their interventions.
This is an important question from a temporary job perspective as candidates are almost always hired to ease a pressure situation. The ability to handle workplace stress is a key attribute that separates successful temps from the rest.
5. Tell me about a time when you went above and beyond your call of duty.
This is another behavioural question that is designed to assess your dedication to work. Companies generally hire temps when they are grappling with excess workload, when their own employees are unable to manage the situation despite putting in extra hours. Temps are required to shoulder a substantial part of this workload, which may require them to go the extra mile to fulfil their duties and responsibilities. The answer to this question should adhere to the STAR framework described above.
6. What types of teams have you worked in before?
Temps generally work with a variety of different people in different companies and corporate environments. They must be flexible, adaptable, and strong team players. The objective of this question is to ascertain whether you will be a good fit in the current team. Your answer will also reveal much about your ability to be flexible which is a key attribute for temporary staffers.
Try and pick an assortment of experiences instead of concentrating on just one or two. Mention how you enjoyed working in each functional team to highlight your love for new challenges.
Employers may also want to know why you have opted to work as a temporary employee to understand if there are any risks attached to hiring you. Be honest in your answer but refrain from revealing more details than necessary—you could end up harming your chances of getting hired by talking too much! When it comes to a filling a position, employers want to be absolutely sure about whom they hire, even if it is for a short duration. Going in prepared for the interview could help you get one step closer to that sought-after work opportunity.
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