10 Interview Questions to Hire the Best Temporary Workers

80608276While hiring for permanent positions is on a downturn, temporary hiring is on the rise. Right now, 42 percent of employers are planning to retain temporary employees. Unsurprisingly, temporary staffing utilization was up eight percent in 2013 and is only looking to increase in 2014 as more small and midsize businesses go that route.

Hiring great temps for your clients is essential, especially considering 43 percent of employers plan to transition temporary workers into full-time employees. Therefore, the talent you refer to clients has a high possibility of becoming a staple in their office for years to come. So, you have to be sure you’re referring people with top-notch credentials and the correct company culture fit.

Below are some questions to ask candidates in the interview, whether it’s in person or through video interviewing, to ensure your temp candidate has the right stuff to become a full-time fixture:

1.  Why are you interested in this temporary opportunity? It’s important to find out why a candidate is interested in the opportunity and what their career ambitions are. Does the job align with a larger career picture for them, or is this just a paycheck job? Pay attention to nonverbals during the interview, regardless of whether the person is sitting across from you or on the other side of the webcam.

2. What do you hope to learn in this position? Just because a person comes from a different industry or background doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be a bad fit for your client’s temporary position. With the skills gap at a record high, now might just be the time to take a risk on an outside-the-box candidate. The most important aspect of using temporary labor as a “try before you buy” scenario is to recruit candidates who want to use the job as an opportunity to learn. Even if their skills aren’t a perfect fit, hiring a motivated candidate can help your client jump the skills gap by nurturing someone with the right stuff.

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3. Do you hope to eventually transition to full-time? It’s important to know whether or not the candidate has aspirations of becoming a full-time employee. Not every company will want to hire temps on permanently, so this information can help you make the best fit possible for your client.

4. Describe a time in your career when you made a mistake. What was the mistake and what did you learn from it?

This question helps you ascertain the honesty and integrity of your candidate. Candidates who take full responsibility and have learned a lesson from their mistake can become great employees. Candidates who point the finger at others for their blunders will not.

5. Do you prefer working with a team or solo? Company culture fit can be just as important as having the perfect skills. This question will help you see if the candidate is a team player and how they work independently. Perhaps you might also want to ask follow-up situational questions about a time when your candidate worked alone and as part of a group.

6. What’s your ideal work environment look like? Does your candidate crave corporate hierarchy or are they looking for startup anarchy? It’s important to know their ideal fit, so you can be sure the candidate will adapt easily to your client’s culture.

7. What do you know about the company? What value do you hope to add? It’s always important for a candidate to do their homework. Find out what they know about the company and ask them to envision what they can add.

8. Describe your personality in three words. Most temporary employees will be asked to fit into existing groups or add to existing projects. Personalities can sometimes clash in the office, so this question can give you a general feel for the candidate.  Again, watch nonverbals, either in person or through video interviewing, to see if they struggle to come up with positive adjectives.

9. Explain a time when you went above and beyond for a job. The answer to this question can give you a picture of how conscientious the candidate can be.

10.  If you could meet one person, living or dead, who would it be? Asking a strange or outside-the-box question can give you an idea of how quickly the candidate thinks on their feet. As a temporary employee, your candidate should have a high degree of adaptability and be able to learn quickly. As a bonus, the answer to this question can also give you insight into the candidate’s personality and interests.

Whether your candidate is on the other side of your desk or on the other side of your webcam, it’s important to take temporary staffing seriously. If you ask the right questions, a temp candidate can have a big future as a full-time employee for your client.

What do you think? What are some questions you ask temp candidates? Share in the comments! 

MORE: Weird interview questions: Unexpected game changers

Josh Tolan
Josh Tolan is the CEO of Spark Hire, a video interviewing platform. Learn more about using video interviews for staffing and connect with Spark Hire on Facebook and Twitter.

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Thank you so much for this list of interview questions. I am currently in search of a job and I need some help. These interview questions will help me prepare a little bit for any interviews I get to be apart of. Does anyone know of any other things that I should prepare for?


  1. […] While hiring for permanent positions is on a downturn, temporary hiring is on the rise. Right now, 42 percent of employers are planning to retain temporary employees.  […]

  2. […] Hiring temporary employees into permanent positions doesn’t have to be risky. Asking the right questions of your temporary employees is a great way to gauge whether they would be a good fit at your […]

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