Back to basics: Preparing for a contracts interview
Are you preparing for an upcoming interview? Not sure where to start? Often, people get so overwhelmed and consumed with preparing for interviews that they lose sight of what the most important information is that they should be focusing on.
Not sure where to begin?
The best approach is to go back to the most basic of principals – the essential information. Think about how you can best sell yourself and your experience to date, and then think about what other information an interviewer may want to find out about you. This could include more about your personality, what motivates you, your strengths and weaknesses, etc.
We caught up with Tahmid Bin Zafar, Associate Sales Team Manager, along with his Contracts Team, Pratyusha Vedala, Jolene Tan, Ahona Adhikary & Karminder Walia whose daily roles include regularly preparing people for interviews.
What do you need to prepare before a contracts interview?
The team shared his four key steps to begin your preparation:
- Brush up on technical experience specifically related to the role you are applying for
- Take a proactive approach to sharing subject matter expert (SME) experience, relevant contacts and availability
- Know your primary motivation – Why would you want to take up a contract role?
- Be prepared to share your key achievements and projects you have done
What do contract managers look out for?
The team highlighted that most contract managers are drawn to candidates with versatile experience as it give them the opportunity to rotate the candidate through different scopes. Attributes of versatility highlights your willingness to learn and ability to adapt into new situations quickly.
It is also helpful to adopt the STAR – Situation, Task, Action, Result – methodology to back up your answers. A key tip would also be to highlight past experience and technical expertise that can add value in the project.
What is unique about a contracts interview process?
- It is straightforward
There are less questions to determine cultural fit, and there are more motivational questions. Permanent roles define more queries, including ones motivation to leave an organisation, motivation to take on a new role, along with intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. On the flip side, contracts interviews are to-the-point, and largely centred on execution ability and interest.
- The process is fast
A contracts interview process is very quick. Generally it only takes one to two rounds of interviews. It also tends to be more focused on quantitative achievements such as project delivery, rather than a candidate’s qualitative profile. The interview is also mainly sharing the project requirements, expected responsibilities and skills required for the role.
Below are also some general questions that can help you further enhance your answering capabilities during your interview.
- Would you hire you?
As you may be aware your strengths and weaknesses are a common interview question. However, you should ensure when answering this that the weaknesses you give are not directly relevant to the criteria required for the role. For example, if you are going for a sales role, you would probably not say that communications or people skills are your biggest weakness. Likewise, if you are going for an IT position, then computer skills should realistically not be an issue for you. Put yourself in the interviewer’s position – judging by your answers, would you hire you?
- Why did you leave your previous job?
It’s best not to speak overly negatively about a previous employer or employers. Although you may have a had a bad experience with a particular workplace, and may have your own issues with a previous manager or co-worker, highlighting that excessively in an interview may reflect badly on you in the long run. While you don’t have to be glowingly positive about every place you’ve worked in, a neutral attitude is better in most cases as it doesn’t raise alarms bells for future employers and gives out a positive first impression.
- Have you done ample research on the company?
It probably goes without saying, but while the interview is focused on you, you should also do thorough research on the company and indeed the role you are interviewing for. Make sure to look at things such as their company culture to check if it’s in line with what you’re looking for personally as well. When looking at the role itself, try as best you can to match up any experience you may have with what the employer is looking for, even if it means thinking outside the box.
- Is your CV reflective of your expertise?
The one tip to make sure is that you should never lie on your CV. While you may play up and sell your experience as best you can, never out rightly lie about somewhere you worked or a skill you’re claiming to have. Don’t put anything down which you would not be comfortable speaking about if quizzed. Likewise, if you are interviewing at other places, don’t lie about this either. It is much better to be open and honest, rather than suddenly accepting a new role and leaving other employers hanging.
Towards the end of the interview, there is almost always an opportunity to ask questions. Many people overlook the importance of this, but this is actually your chance to set yourself apart from the crowd and show how interested in and motivated you are by the role. Maybe ask something industry specific or revert back to career progression and even global mobility within the business down the line. By choosing something less generic, it will help make your interview more memorable and hopefully you stand out as a potential candidate to the hiring manager. Think of this as making your lasting impression!
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