You don’t have to be a natural-born interviewer to be one of those contractors always in demand. These contractor interview tips are the ones we see our ‘interviews well’ candidates use regularly.

From psychological tricks to common-sense (but often-forgotten) advice, read on for that aha moment and see your interview success skyrocket.

1. They understand the importance of culture fit and empathy…

As a contractor, you will be hired primarily for the specialist skills and experience you can bring, not to help build a company’s culture (in fact, you’re expected not to get involved in office politics). However, you will be expected to fit in with the culture, to get teams onside quickly and drive change positively.

Clients are therefore increasingly focusing on empathy and culture fit during the interview process. Contractors with the best interview success rate know the importance of demonstrating empathy at interview and how they can fit into the company’s culture.

2. …and they use psychological tactics to help them do so

The best contractors don’t leave building a rapport with the interviewer to chance. They utilise psychological tricks to establish social empathy early on, such as:

Researching the interviewer online as part of their interview preparation, in order to establish a common interest

“Once you have a little piece of information about someone being similar to you or different, you seem to take it and run with it. You may think they are similar to you across the board, even though you may not have much reason to think this. It is rather surprising.”

Adrianna Jenkins, Department of Psychology at Harvard, reporting on their brain study findings via The Telegraph

Read more:  9 Psychological Secrets to Help You Crack Your Next Job Interview

Adapting how they communicate depending on the interviewer’s personality type

  • An assertive person will want you to get to the point – what’s the bottom figure?
  • Analysts need facts.
  • Expressives are interested in your overall impact.
  • Amiables like the story behind the results and the overall vision.

Focusing on their body language

It’s often said that 93% of communication is non-verbal. Great interviewees understand this and work on their body language.

Watching for signs of interest or boredom

They use this to know when to delve further, or when to move swiftly on/change tactic.

Sounding enthusiastic

“..candidates with higher affect, energy level, and pitch and amplitude variability are significantly more likely to be invited back for a second interview than applicants who demonstrate lower affect, energy level, and pitch and amplitude variability.”

Jonathan Golding and Anne Lipert in  Psychology Today

3. They view interviews as a sales pitch

A common mistake made by contractors is to approach an interview like a job interview. It’s not. It’s really a sales meeting, where you are pitching your services for sale.

You shouldn’t take a reactive approach, answering questions set by the interviewer. Just like you would approach a sales meeting, you need to establish the business requirements and then persuade them that you can deliver ROI and business value within the contract.

It’s also not appropriate to talk about why the role is good for you and what you would get out of it or to ask about the team and what the interviewer thinks of the company.

Your responses should be on how you will deliver value within the contract period.  

4. They prepare during their contracts

Contract roles can be advertised one day and filled the next. There can therefore be little time to prepare fully for an interview.

The contractors always in work understand this. During each contract, they’re adding their skills and experience to their ‘pitch deck’ for interviews. So when that contract interview request comes through, all they need to do is research the company and consider how they will tweak their pitch accordingly.

5. They’re a star at the STAR technique for case studies

The STAR technique is an interview technique recommended for permanent candidates and contractors alike. It stands for:

Situation: Set the scene and provide the necessary details.
Task: Describe what your responsibility and goals were.
Action: Describe exactly what steps you took to reach the goals.
Result: Share what outcomes your actions achieved.

However, it’s even more important that contractors master this technique. The client is not interested in whether you would be a star worker with a little help and guidance.  They require evidence that you will be able to deliver now. The STAR technique helps you confirm this, in a digestible but compelling way.


If you want to be that in-demand contractor, who converts every opportunity into a new contract – or you want to increase the number of quality contractor opportunities – then sign up to our webinar:

WEBINAR: Contractor interview secrets to help you stay off the bench

Damien Lee will be sharing his insight gleaned from over 20 years in contract recruitment, covering: how to sell your services effectively at interview, including common mistakes, how to frame case studies to show your ROI, secrets to win over the interviewer, and more.

Register for our webinar