Hays Ireland blog


Seven common temp interview questions

By Nick Deligiannis, Managing Director, Hays Australia & New Zealand


Have you been called in for an interview for a temp assignment or contract role? Once the sole domain of the permanent recruitment process, many of today’s employers want to interview a temporary or contract worker before signing a contract.

But these interviews differ from those conducted for a permanent position. While they’re usually not as long, they are heavily focused on the skills that you can immediately bring to the table, filling whatever skills gap necessary. Because there is less time put aside to onboard you, the hiring manager will also need to know how quickly you can adapt to new processes and people, hitting the ground running.

This requires you to do your homework to prepare for likely questions and, crucially, think of examples from your work history that prove your expertise. So which questions should you prepare for?

1. Why are you interested in this assignment?

The interview wants to know that you haven’t just taken on this assignment for the sake of it and that this role actually aligns with your career ambitions and interests. This will reassure them that, despite being a temp worker, you will still showcase a strong level of commitment to the project.

Before the interview ask for a copy of the job description or, if one isn’t available, ask your recruiter what specifically is required and what you’ll be doing in the role. You’ll then be able to answer this question by demonstrating how the assignment matches with your expertise and long-term career goals.

2. Tell me about a time you’ve had to quickly adjust to a new environment?

Temps and contractors must be able to adapt quickly to a new office and its processes. You should research the organisation before the interview; tell the interviewer what you have learned about its culture from your research and how this knowledge will help you hit the ground running.

You could also explain your strategy for quickly getting up to speed in each new workplace – for example, do you learn fast by asking questions and observing the environment in order to decide how to best fit in? Know what your strategy is, and have some examples up your sleeve of a time you put it in practice.

3. Describe how you work with others.

We always encourage our clients to assess personality fit for any type of role. This is because research has shown that this is often the reason a new hire doesn’t work out. Whilst you may not be with the company for a particularly long time, you will still need to get along well with existing employees for the sake of team morale and productivity. Prepare to describe how you work well with a range of different personalities.

4. How do your skills prepare you for this assignment?

As a temp or contractor, your skills and ability to immediately apply them effectively and efficiently are your selling point. When preparing for your interview, think of examples you can share that demonstrate your proficiency for each skill the assignment requires. Provide specific details as evidence of your ability to apply your skills to meet objectives.

5. Next, expect detailed technical questions.

You are then likely to be asked a range of specific technical questions related to your area of expertise. These questions are usually the most important because they reveal if you have the precise set of skills required for the employer’s immediate short-term need. Remember, they’re hiring external support because their permanent team lacks certain skills that are needed right away.

Therefore, give as many examples as possible of similar work you’ve completed in the past. Be specific when describing your duties, the skills you used and your outcomes. This is your chance to prove you will fill their skill gap and get the job done.

6. Why do you temp?

Link your answer back to your career goals. For example, do you want to gain experience in a wider range of industries or on different projects? Make sure the reason you provide is valid and doesn’t eliminate your possible consideration for any future roles the organisation may have.

7. Do you have any questions?

Lastly, as with any interview, remember to ask your own questions at the end to demonstrate your interest in the role.  These questions could be about the particular project or duties, if the organisation has used temporary or contract staff before and how your success in the assignment will be measured.

My over-arching advice here, would be to put as much effort into interview preparation as you would if you were interviewing for a permanent role. Temp roles are a brilliant chance for you to network, add some quick wins and tangible results to your CV, and learn more about what you want from a permanent employer, so why give this opportunity anything less than 100 percent?

About this author

Nick Deligiannis began working at Hays in 1993 and since then has held a variety of consulting and management roles across the business, including the role of Director responsible for the operation of Hays in Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory. In 2004 Nick was appointed to the Hays Board of Directors, and was made Managing Director for Australia and New Zealand in 2012.

Prior to joining Hays, he had a background in human resource management and marketing, and has formal qualifications in Psychology.


All blogs


Use our salary checker

Use our salary checker

Whether you are looking for a new job or a pay rise, it helps to understand what the typical salaries are and what your potential earnings could be.

Take a look


Job Search

Looking for a new role? Search here for your ideal job or get in touch with one of our expert consultants.


Have a vacancy?

Looking to recruit? Fill in your details here and we'll help you find a candidate.


Contact us

Find your nearest office

Hays Ireland has offices in Dublin, Galway, Limerick and Cork. Use our office locator to find the one closest to you.