The Best Answers to Temporary Job Interview Questions

A young woman shaking hands after interviewing at a temporary work agency.

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A temporary job is employment where you remain in the position for a limited period. Temp jobs occasionally can turn into permanent positions in some cases. Temps—also known as seasonal workers—are sometimes hired through temporary agencies, or they can be hired directly by a company. Temps work in a variety of fields, from administrative to legal to construction to manufacturing.

The Tempory Job Interview

You will interview for the temporary position just like you would for any other permanent position. It's important to frame your responses to interview questions carefully so that you’ll impress the hiring manager not only with your skills, but with your aptitude for the nature of a temporary role.

In a temp job interview, it’s important to focus on your flexibility, your high comfort level with working in new environments, your ability to communicate and work well with a variety of colleagues, as well as your availability for temporary jobs.

All job interviews go more smoothly when the interviewee prepares ahead of time. To ace a temporary job interview, concentrate on the attributes that make you an excellent hire for a temp job, as well as a high-achieving employee in general.

Discuss Salary Beforehand

Often with temporary jobs, there is not a lot of room to negotiate salary, especially after the offer is made. If you are working with a temp agency, discuss your salary needs with the temp agency before the interview for any particular job.

Don’t Ask for a Permanent Job

Even if you would prefer a full-time position rather than a temp job, there's no need to mention it in the interview. That's because of the temp agency, or the employer if they are hiring direct, wants to hire temporary workers who can commit to the job only for as long as needed. That being said, if you are asked if you might like a long-term position should one open up, you can answer “yes,” but still emphasize that you are excited about the temporary position.

Focus on the Role

Emphasize that you can fill the specific role of the temporary position. Be sure to thoroughly read the job description ahead of time. Highlight the skills and experiences you have that will help you fill this role. Even more so than in an interview for a permanent job, you want to prove that you have what the employer needs. Because you will not be a long-term employee, focus more on how you can accomplish the required tasks, rather than your interest in the company or the company’s culture.

Highlight Key Temp Job Skills

Beyond highlighting your skills that are related to the specific job, you can also highlight qualities that would make you a good temp worker. For example, emphasize your flexibility and availability (see below for more information on this). Also, emphasize your ability to work and get along with a variety of colleagues. If you are a quick learner, say so. Provide an example of a time when you demonstrated any of these skills. These qualities are needed for any temp job and will help you stand out.

Know Your Availability

Employers who are looking to hire temporary employees may want them to start right away, or to commit to a set schedule on the spot. Be sure you know your availability before going into the temporary job interview, so that you can answer without delay.

Be Flexible

Emphasize your flexibility. If you can work nights or weekends (if that is something the job might require), be sure to state this. Again, mention if you are able to start right away. Often, temp jobs require working a flexible schedule. Also, emphasize that you are a flexible worker who is comfortable working in new environments and with new people. That is something many companies are looking for in a temp worker.

Prepare for Common Interview Questions

While you should prepare for your interview by practicing answers to the questions listed above, you also likely will be asked some common interview questions. Be sure to practice and prepare answers to both common interview questions and temp job interview questions.

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