IT contractor interview tips – how to impress clients

So, you’ve written your CV, sent it off, and then your agent or client contacts you to arrange an interview.

This is a crucial step in your quest for that next contract and every care should be made to impress.

Here are some top tips for succeeding in the interview process, written by the Contract Eye team.

Permanent vs. Contractor interviews are different

The contractor interview process is typically much shorter than for a traditional employee. In fact, the whole recruitment process is quicker – for obvious reasons.

As a contractor, you have a short amount of time to sell yourself to the client. The client is more interested in your skillset and if you’re a good fit than your entire career history and outside interests.

Most clients only interview a contractor once – compared to two or three times for a potential ’employee’.

You won’t be expected to go through any additional checks of testing expected of permies.

1. Before you set off

The night before, print out directions to the client site via Google Maps. Look at Street View to familiarise yourself with the location.

Re-read your CV and the job specification and print out several copies of your CV. It has been known for a line manager to ‘mislay’ their interviewee’s details.

Have plenty of sleep the night before, and take your time. Good preparation will reduce the amount of stress you may feel.

Make sure you have your agent’s contact details on your mobile.

Make a note of the client’s name and position in the organisation. Don’t leave anything to chance.

Make sure you look presentable, have a haircut if necessary, and dress appropriately.

Find out from your agent what the working environment is like. Wear a suit, or smart casual clothing, depending on the culture and industry the client works in.

A ‘Star Trek’ tie is probably not advisable until you’ve secured the contract. If you are a smoker, don’t go near cigarettes for an hour or so before the meeting.

2. Arriving at the interview.

When you arrive at reception, ask for your contact and wait until you are called for the interview.

Try to relax and don’t forget that ‘small talk’ is pretty inevitable in the first few minutes, and helps break the ice.

A potential client is far more likely to hire someone they can communicate with.

Have your paperwork and any other details in a neat folder. Don’t walk about with a few pieces of A4 folded up inside your inner suit pocket.

3. The Interview

Whatever you do, make sure you listen carefully to the interviewer.

If necessary, you can take control of the conversation at certain times, especially if you’re keen to highlight certain aspects of your CV which may not have been covered.

Body language is also an important element. Sit with a straight back and don’t cross your arms, as these can betray a lack of interest, or of someone being defensive.

You are trying to secure a contract, so be confident and make sure you tell the interviewer why you think you would be perfect for the role.

Remember that the client must feel that you will fit into the team, as well as provide key skills to the project.

Be organised, and make sure you listen, and hopefully, you’ll receive that positive phone call from the agency!

Some useful interview resources and tips

Partner Contractor Accountants

Last updated: 18th January 2024