Interview checklist & saying goodbye: A Contractor's View

Saying goodbye

If you can bear it, before you shake hands and disappear from the building, try and get some feedback. It will help you in future and it will give you a last chance to turn it around if you've done something wrong.

You ask, "Do you have any reservations about offering me the contract?" or the slightly less formal, "How did I do?"

Either question will usually give you a very good idea of where you stand in the candidate picking list. Mostly you will be answered with the typical, "We've another few interviews tomorrow and we'll let you know at the end of the week." But at least you are clear of the timescales and it saves you from asking the other favourite, "When can I expect to hear."

Invest in not worrying

Both questions are important for your peace of mind over the following days, but sometimes however they may be more forthcoming. An admission that there is a worry over an aspect of your CV will present a chance to put it right. "Can I explain? I only resigned my last post because my wife took up a position in Devon."

Or you might be able to launch into another aspect of your experience that has been overlooked. At this stage in an interview it's likely subliminal decisions have already been made; it is a long shot but it's worth a go.

Interview checklist

With thanks to agent Les Berridge of REC's IT & Comms sector.

  • Adopt a professional, business-like manner
  • Listen carefully
  • Use positive language
  • Rehearse answers to likely questions
  • Be honest, but be prepared to 'bend' the truth if it suits the situation and you can get away with it
  • Ask relevant questions
  • Wear a smile at all times
  • Never indicate desperation
  • Don't get into discussions about your personal life, and decline any bait to mention secrets of your present or past contracts
  • Clean your teeth and avoid garlic, alcohol and excessive perfume
  • Don't fidget or play with your hair, pick your spots or fiddle
  • Avoid negative phrases such as: "I don't know" and "I'm not sure"
  • Be persuasive: speak in terms of what benefits you can offer the client
  • Relax and don't rush your answers

The bottom line

Plenty of contractors get work by trucking up to interviews without a moment pre-thought and without a sales-person's bone in their body.

You do not have to be an excellent sales person to be an excellent IT freelancer, but it helps. And you do not have to be a supreme interviewee either.

What really matters in interview is confidence and comfort. You must be comfortable – as far as you can be given the circumstances – and confidence will follow. You will then win contracts from interviews.

So if the advice to wear smart clothing goes against your grain and no matter how you try you feel stupid asking, "How did I do?" at the end of the interview. Don't do it. You'll more likely make a mess of it and feel embarrassed.

William Knight

Monday 23rd Feb 2009
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