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Interviewing for a Temporary Position


   Article by Carole Martin


"It's just an interview for a temp job -- no big deal!" That's where you're mistaken. Some wonderful opportunities, networking connections, and careers have resulted from temporary positions. Temporary assignments today run the gamut from receptionist to CEO and beyond. And, since an agency is usually the first contact with the company, much of the marketing and negotiations have been done for you.

"But the interview is set up and all I have to do is show up." Wrong again. The mindset you bring to that interview will make a big difference as to whether or not you get the job at all.

Most employers like to conduct interviews for temporary positions even though they are slated only for a few weeks or months of service. They are particularly concerned about people in positions of higher responsibility. The employer is interested in selecting quality people who can be trusted with company information, knowledge and secrets.

Preparing for the Interview

Do your research. Many companies have Web sites where you can access valuable background information to use in your interview.

By finding out information on the company like annual revenue and the organization's mission, you will show an interest in what you will be contracted to do. Showing some enthusiasm about the position will demonstrate a positive attitude toward the assignment that you're seeking. You don't want to project the idea that you are there because you can't find a job anywhere else, or are waiting for just the "right job" -- even if that is the case.

Get a job description. Do some preparation ahead of time.

A worthwhile exercise is to take a piece of paper and fold it down the middle. On one side of the fold write, "What they are looking for," and on the other side, write, "What I have to offer." Look at the job description and compare the company's needs with your experience and qualities. How do you stack up? Where are your shortcomings? Can you show how you learn quickly or bring added value to the company from the start?

Prepare a short information statement. Be ready to answer the dreaded question, "Tell me about yourself and your background."

Your statement should include some information on the type of companies and the industries you have worked for, your strengths, your transferable skills, and some of your personal traits. Practice saying this statement until it is natural.

Be prepared to talk about your successes and experiences.

The employer will want to find out about your past experience -- successes and failures, your work ethic, your track record, and, more than likely, the reason you have chosen to work as a temporary employee rather than a regular employee. Make sure you have an answer to the question, "Why temporary employment?"

Even though you are not being considered for a regular position at this time, there is always the possibility that it just might work out well for both parties -- and the first step to making that happen is by acing the interview.


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