How to prepare for a temporary job interview: a complete guide

The Importance of thorough preparation for a temporary job interview The employment landscape is ever-changing, and, as a result, temporary work has...

Nicholas Kira

21 August 2023

10 min read

The Importance of thorough preparation for a temporary job interview

Student girl in headphones having a virtual interview with a smiling interviewer

The employment landscape is ever-changing, and, as a result, temporary work has come to the fore as a truly viable option for those who need work that fits their busy schedule, or who wish to use it to gain valuable experience to advance their career.

Temporary (or, simply: temp) roles give you the chance to gain hands-on experience across a number of different sectors, expand your professional network, and show off your skills to employers – and get the glowing reference that comes with that. But just because temp work might seem short term (which isn’t always true, as temp-perm roles are often available), that doesn’t mean the interview process should be taken any less seriously than if you were going for a permanent role, especially as you never know where that temp work may lead.

So, this blog post will outline the best way to prepare for a temporary job interview, covering key strategies you can employ to ensure you stand out as a candidate, covering; top preparation tips, typical temp interview questions, and questions you yourself should ask during a temp job interview. By following these comprehensive guidelines, you’ll be sure to land a role that suits you, your skills and experience, and which aligns with your career goals.  


Researching the company and temp role

Unemployed young woman looking for a job online from home using laptop and writing down the notes in her notebook

Gaining a full understanding of the company and position

In short, do your research. You wouldn’t buy a product without checking some online reviews first, so apply the same rules here. Look at the company’s online presence and check out their culture, values, and mission.

Get to know the products and services they provide and who their customers are. And delve into the specifics of the position you’re applying for. Take a good look at the job description, responsibilities, and required skills. Do you meet all of those requirements? Is this the role for you? Are there any skills you lack, but could easily learn on the job? Doing this initial research will enable you to tailor your answers in an interview, to highlight how your qualifications and experiences align with the employer’s expectations.

Identifying whether your skills match the role and highlighting them

To prepare for a temp job interview, it’s a good idea to consider how you can hit the ground running, as temp roles often demand that you’re heavily involved in how the company runs, right from the off, given they’re short term in the main. So as you prepare for the interview, think about how your skills and experiences directly relate to the job requirements – to that which is listed in the job description.

During the interview, emphasise these skills – where you gained them (from a college or on the job), how you’ve honed or advanced them, how they help – and elaborate on how they can add immediate value to the team you’ll be joining. By showcasing your expertise, you’ll show yourself to be a valuable asset to the company and convey your ability to make a substantial impact, right from the start.

Prepare examples that demonstrate you’re the right person for the role

This is your chance to shine – to really show you’ve done your interview preparation for this temp job. Employers really appreciate hearing concrete examples of your past experiences, from other jobs, and what you learnt from them. These stories are powerful tools that demonstrate your suitability for the temporary role, and show how you could cope with the demands of that role. Don’t just describe a particular experience – think about your specific actions at the time, and the outcome they led to.

By referring to real-life examples of things that have happened to you in the workplace, and how you dealt with them, you’ll give your interviewer an insight into how you might handle similar situations in the new role.  

Demonstrating flexibility and adaptability for a temp role

Showcase your adaptability

In preparing for a temp job interview, it’s best to think of occasions on which you’ve adapted quickly to new environments and tasks – ones which, at first, seemed unfamiliar to you. Temporary work requires you to be agile and adaptable, adopting quick thinking to solve problems.

So, be prepared to discuss instances in previous jobs where you’ve successfully overcome challenges, dealt with customers and resolved any issues, embraced new technology, or thrived in an environment that, at first, you weren’t quite used to. Always emphasise your ability to learn quickly and solve problems with the minimum of fuss. Highlighting your adaptability shows your readiness to excel in your new temporary role and wow your employer.

Show just how flexible you can be in a demanding role

If you’re going to be successful in any temporary job interview, you need to show how you’ve been flexible in other roles in the past, and how you’ll bring that flexibility to this new role. You’ll need to show how you’ve swiftly evolved to take on new tasks, in new environments, in the past, and how you’ll be able to do so again.

In doing this, you’ll make your prospective employer aware that you’ll happily embrace new challenges, and use your problem-solving skills, positioning yourself as a reliable, competent, and versatile team member. And in showing a willingness to take on new responsibilities, you’ll prove that you’re worth investing in as an employee and you’re willing to grow your skill set. Proof of your flexibility, both in interview and on the job, will leave a lasting impression on the employer and may well lead to future opportunities with the same company.  

Making sure you look the part and present well, for a temp role

Happy indian man putting on necktie while looking in the mirror and smiling at his reflection, standing in modern bathroom interior, free space

Dress to impress

What you wear to your temp job interview says a lot about your professionalism and how serious you are about the role you’re applying for. Look into the company’s dress code and match your outfit accordingly. For example, if the company operates in a formal environment, opt for business attire: white shirt, black/dark tie, black trousers, black shoes, minimal jewellery.  Hospitality workers can find out exactly what to wear in this post.

On the other hand, if they embrace a more relaxed culture, choose professional clothing in keeping with their style. Your appearance plays a crucial role in shaping the first impression you give, and underlines your commitment to the job.

Be a thorough professional

Firstly, above all, be punctual. It says a lot about you. Arrive on time or a few minutes early to your temp job interview, to convey your respect for the interviewer’s schedule. Maintain proper posture (don’t slouch), eye contact, and offer a firm handshake. These gestures show confidence in yourself and respect for your interviewer. Interact courteously with everyone you meet, from the receptionist to the interviewer, as these interactions will help the employer to form an overall impression of you.

If your interview is via video call  

A virtual interview requires tools like a camera and microphone on your device, and a reliable internet connection. Before your interview, ensure you check all of your technology to be certain that it works effectively and can be used for video communications. In fact, we have a virtual interview guide with further tips available.

The same rules apply for virtual interviews as face-to-face ones: dress appropriately, be punctual, maintain good posture and eye contact. And remember, the best place to have a virtual interview is in your home, in a quiet location with few distractions. Choose a room that is clean and professional-looking. If you don’t have a dedicated office space, you can also use a bedroom or your kitchen table – anything with a neutral background. Try to place your device on a table or desk instead of your lap or a couch. Never try to conduct a virtual interview whilst moving around or travelling – it’s incredibly distracting for the interviewer.  

Practicing temp interview questions

Be prepared to answer any queries the employer may have As with any job, you’ll need to think about temp interview questions you may be asked, covering things like; your past experiences, how you’ve handled challenges in other jobs, your understanding of the job requirements, and why you want a temp job.

As previously mentioned, it’s highly likely you’ll be asked to provide tangible examples in relation to your experience in other roles, and how that relates to the role you’re going for. Depending on the role, the questions asked might be more technical. For example, you may be asked how familiar you are with certain software or machinery and whether you’re qualified to use it. These questions aren’t designed to trip you up – they’re merely there to assess your suitability for the role.

So, when considering how to prepare for a temp job interview, think about how you’d answer these types of questions, to demonstrate your readiness to take on the role.  

Preparing your own questions for your temp interview

Prepare thoughtful questions

While an interviewer wants to find out all about you, and will throw lots of questions at you, it’s also important that you have questions of your own to ask. Don’t forget, an interview should be a two-way conversation, and asking questions shows that you’re genuinely interested in the job.

Questions to ask at a temp job interview might include queries about job responsibilities, team dynamics, equipment you might be asked to use, specific skills you may have to draw on, company culture. If you’re unsure what to ask, this post will give you a few handy questions to ask in your interview. Don’t be shy – ask away! Particularly if there’s anything you don’t quite understand about the role or you need more information. You’ll be respected for it, and it also allows you to consider whether it’s the right fit for you.  

So, when it comes to preparing for a temporary job interview…

Checklist - Preparing for a temporary job interview

Make sure you take a careful, almost strategic approach. Research the company, think about your skills and experience relevant to the job (and be prepared to give examples), demonstrate your flexibility and adaptability, and – above all –  be professional; both in your appearance and your demeanour. And, of course, be prepared to answer lots of questions, but also have some ready to fire back at your interviewer, to show that you’re genuinely interested in the opportunity. Do all of this, and you’re bound to leave a positive impression. And remember, temporary positions provide valuable experiences and networking opportunities and very often lead to longer-term work.

Stick to the tips we’ve provided in this blog post and you’ll be well positioned to handle any temporary job interview, and secure the opportunity that’s just right for you. And bear in mind: with Indeed Flex you just need to have one interview to access hundreds of roles across the app.

Why not download it today, and get yours booked?


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