If you choose to work as a freelancer in contracting industries, you will soon discover that sourcing new contracts will be something you have to do regularly. This means that you will need to go through far more interviews than a permanent worker would ever have to.
There are various pros and cons associated with choosing contractor work over a permanent role, and though you may be fortunate enough to find long-term clients, you will need to be prepared to perform well at interviews to maintain a healthy workload. You will need to be highly motivated and show great initiative to find contracts, but you will also gain an invaluable wealth of experience and skills that no permanent worker could develop.
Interviews can be an extremely anxious experience, but they don't have to be. Here are some interview tips for landing your first role in contracting industries.
Work with your CV
It goes without saying that you will have constructed a winning CV just to score an interview in the first place. The CV is a snapshot of you, and when you are interviewed you should be building on that snapshot for the interviewer to get a clearer picture. Achieve this by doing the following:
- Elaborate on the skills and qualities you mentioned in your personal statement.
- Explain how the things you have learnt in education and work experience will be valuable to the potential client.
- Shift the focus away from your lack of experience to focus on the skills and abilities you have shown yourself to have.
Prepare in advance
Once your interview is arranged, you need to do your homework to be as well-prepared as possible. Find out the interview location and how long the journey is - punctuality goes a long way in creating a good first impression. Make sure you dress in formal attire, as this makes you appear professional and shows that you are taking the process seriously. Finally, do some research about the company to ensure you are ready to discuss the ins and outs if/when the interviewer asks you about the work. This can also help lower your anxiety, as you can learn about a company's culture and mission to get a picture of what the interview will be like. Preparation is essential for interviews, especially when attempting to land your very first contractor role.
Putting yourself across well
To come across well, you need to try to appear confident right from the word 'Go', even if you're really a bag of nerves! Try to maintain healthy eye contact and good posture and give a firm handshake upon meeting your interviewer. And don't be afraid to sell yourself using any examples you have that showcase what you have achieved. Try to avoid appearing arrogant, however, as this never goes down well at any kind of meeting. Get a good balance between confidence and humility and you'll strike the right chord with your interviewer.
Pay close attention to your interviewer
Make sure you listen carefully and fully understand all that the interviewer says. Don't be afraid to ask questions to ensure you always understand what you are being asked - in fact, asking intelligent questions can really help demonstrate your commitment and enthusiasm for the role. Make sure you don't interrupt the interviewer and try to keep a good exchange going so neither one of you is dominating the conversation. Communication is very important for contractors, and your interviewer needs to feel reassured that if they worked with you, there would be a high level of communication at all times.
Questions to expect at an interview
There are various questions that interviewers like to ask prospective contractors to get an understanding of the way they work. Here are a few questions that you can try to prepare an answer for, as they are likely to come up in some form during your interview:
- “Describe a challenging situation you have experienced. Tell me how you coped and what you did to overcome it.” The interviewer will want to get an idea of what you consider to be a challenge and how you are likely to respond when it happens.
- “Why did you apply for this position?” Here, the interviewer wants to know what your mindset is likely to be with regards to the role. How committed will you be? Is it all about money, or do you actually care about the company?
- “What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment?” This question helps the interviewer understand a little about you. What is important to you? What are your values, principles and priorities? And, of course, what have you achieved in life?
When your interview comes to an end, be sure to thank them and ask when you can expect to hear some feedback about the interview. If you follow the advice in this article, you should perform well in your interview and maximise your chances of landing the role. If you are unsuccessful, be sure to ask for feedback regarding areas for improvement so you can be better prepared for the next interview. Keep trying, and you will get yourself off the ground.