Transfer for FREE Between ContractorUmbrella and Dolan Accountancy

Find Out More

Securing A Contract

Interviews | Interview Tips | References | Interview Questions


When you are contracting it is very likely that the number of interviews you will attend will be much higher than those within permanent employment. This means that mastering your interview skills are vital to your success. You may be one of the best in your field; however, if your interview skills are poor, then your chances of securing the contract are significantly reduced.

In the late 1990's the demand for contractors rose substantially and contractors were snapped up quickly, sometimes regardless of a poor CV or interview. However, once this demand had passed after the industry experienced a crash, it naturally became survival of the fittest!

The two key elements to a successful interview are preparation and enthusiasm!

Where, Who and When?
You need to ensure that you know the location of the interview and leave in plenty of time. First impressions are crucial so arriving late it not going to look good on your time-keeping skills.

If you are driving to your interview make sure that you get directions in advance and that you are confident on the journey that you will need to take. Check that you can park, and if applicable, that you have change for parking machines. You should check the traffic reports in the morning to ensure that your route is not going to be problematic on the day.

If you are travelling by public transport check that there are no problems or delays on the day of the interview and to account for the worst, leaving plenty of time to spare.

Keep all of the details regarding your interview on you in case of an emergency, if you know that you are not going to arrive for the scheduled time then phone politely and explain.

You need to ensure you look the part. Arrive smartly dressed, clean, and prepared.

Who are you meeting? Do you know the name and job title of the interviewer? If not, then check with the recruiter prior to the day.

Do your research about the company. One of the most common questions at the start of the interview is "Do you know much about the company?". Research the company on the internet, find out as much as you can from news, directors, formation dates and even share prices.

The Interview
There are no strict guidelines for the interview itself, but the question you need to focus on is 'What are they looking for?' Once you have identified this key point, you will know how to direct your interview.

You need to think about the questions that the recruiters will be asking themselves.

  • Do I like this person?
  • Is this candidate skilled for the position?
  • Can this person use their own initiative?
  • Are they presentable?
  • Do they have good communication skills?
  • Do they appear motivated and driven?
  • Are they right for the client?
  • Do they have any additional skills or experience which may be an extra benefit to the client?
  • Are they a good listener?
  • Is this candidate reliable?

You need to remember that the recruiters will have their reputation to protect. The recruiter will need to be confident that the chosen candidate is going to be right for the clients' requirements and is not going to cause any problems for them.

You need to discuss and understand their needs. Why does the client need you? What do they need you to provide? You should base your responses with these in mind.

Try to keep the conversation balanced, do not let the interviewer do all the talking and at the same time do not talk the whole way through either. Be confident, professional, and friendly.

A final note; Do not dwell on hindsight. We all wish we had said or done things differently at times.

*Worrying is like a rocking horse, it gives you something to do but it doesn't get you anywhere.*

We wish you the best of luck.

Interview Tips

  • Be prepared
  • Be well groomed
  • Do your homework
  • Think about the type of questions you could be asked in advance
  • Plan your greeting
  • Practice if you do not feel confident
  • Check your journey
  • A good night's sleep is a must!
  • Conduct additional research. Find out the year the company formed, number of employees, its services/products
  • While waiting in reception, be sure to read company publications if they have them not the general magazines provided. This is something recruiters have said to take notice of.
  • Mobile phones off
  • Present yourself well
  • Relax
  • Smile and be polite to all staff
  • Enter confidently - with the balance of not appearing arrogant or cocky.
  • Don't sit until invited
  • Do not fidget or slouch
  • Look interested - ask questions too to keep the interview flowing with a good conversation balance
  • Avoid yes and no answers
  • Provide examples to support achievements
  • Be positive in all of your answers
  • Speak clearly
  • Never swear - even mildly
  • Do not interrupt
  • Do not draw attention to your weaknesses'
  • Thank the interviewer for their time
  • Keep good eye contact throughout the interview not just while greeting
  • Do not wait until the end to ask questions, keep a good conversation balance and ask when you think of them - without interrupting.
  • Do not skip a meal prior to the interview - this will save embarrassing stomach rumbles.
  • Be careful of what you eat prior to the interview. Food and drink such as onion, coffee, and garlic will linger strongly on your breath!
  • Don't smoke immediately before your interview - if you are a smoker have a mint or breath freshener with you.
  • Be friendly to ALL staff. It is not uncommon for staff to ask others opinions even if they are not involved in the recruitment processes.
  • Don't ask about holidays, benefits, or salary in the interview.
  • Prior to the end of your interview, when thanking your interviewer confirm your interest and state your confidence in your ability to do the role - again, with the balance of not sounding arrogant or cocky.


References are based on confidential and factual information from a third party about candidates suitability for the role applied.

The information that is usually requested is:

  • Job title
  • Length of employment
  • Description of duties
  • Details of sickness absence, and timekeeping.
  • Salary

Other additional issues that may be requested could include:

  • Your ability to work unsupervised
  • Your integrity
  • Communication skills
  • Your ability to work as part of a team
  • If you held a manager/supervisor position, how did you manage this?

They could even request that the referee comments on your suitability for the role that you have applied for.

You references should be someone that you have reported to professionally, and that is able to comment on your performance and skills.

A reference should be able to give confirmation of the information that you presented in the interview.

You should have your referee's permission prior to providing their contact information. You referee should be expecting the call so that when they are contacted, they are prepared to answer what is requested and not caught off guard.

It is worth contacting the referee after the interview to let them know how it went, and provide them with some feedback on the content of the interview. This will allow your referee to answer more effectively when approached.

If you are currently employed then you need to ensure that references are not taken up before the interview. If references are requested prior to the interview then ensure that these are from previous employers only.

Interview questions

Here are just a few examples of the type of questions that you could be asked. Every recruiter and interviewer is different; however, these can act as a guide for you:

"What makes you a good team member?"
"How do you cope with pressure?"
"Why did you apply for this position?"
"Why are you more capable than any other applicants?"

"Describe a problematic situation which you were faced with and how you coped."
"Which of you past positions did you enjoy the most? Why?"
"What would your previous employers have to tell me about you?"
"Why did you leave your last job?"

"What is your most worthy accomplishment gained from your previous jobs?"
"Which of your personal accomplishments are you most proud of?"
"What values are most important to you in your work?"
"How might your negative characteristics interfere with your work?"
"What could damage the quality of your work?"
"What are your hobbies?"

"What are your most prominent characteristics?"
"Where do you see yourself in 10 year's time?"
"What are your short-term goals?"
"Why did you choose this profession?"
"What do you find most interesting about your profession?"
"How would you define success?"
"What interested you most in your studies?"
"How do you cope with stress at work? Give a specific example"
"Give an example of something that you would do differently given a 2nd chance."
"What mark out of 10 would you award yourself for (Personal attribute)? Give me an example of something that you have done recently."
"In your opinion, what are the most important skills for this position?"
"Describe your relationship with your colleagues in your last job."
"If you get the job, what will you do on your first day of work?"

"What are your strengths/weaknesses?"

Questions you could ask the interviewer:

"How long has this position been vacant?"
"Can you describe your ideal candidate for this position?"
"When do you expect to be making a decision?"
"Is this a new position or a replacement position?"
"How would you describe the responsibilities of the position?"
"How would you describe a typical day/week in this position?"
"How many people work in this office/department?"
"Would you like a list of references?"
"When can I expect to hear from you?"
"Are there any other questions I can answer for you?"

Why Choose ContractorUmbrella?

ContractorUmbrella is the hassle-free, straight talking umbrella company that provides umbrella employment for UK based contractors and freelancers. Independently voted as the best umbrella company by the readers of Contractor UK.

As one of the most trusted umbrella companies in the UK, we guarantee our employees peace of mind, absolute compliance and complete security. We are one of the longest standing and most respected umbrella companies in the UK.

Benefits of working through ContractorUmbrella;

  • Fast and easy registration - be ready to work in 24 hours, simply register online and we’ll take care of the rest.
  • Calculate your take home pay - use our online calculator to find out how much you could be taking home through ContractorUmbrella.
  • Same day payments - we offer same day payments as standard, for no additional fee.
  • Our Commitment Charter- is our guarantee that you will be looked after at every step of the way.
  • Flexible Limited Company Accountancy - when you sign up to our sister company Dolan Accountancy, you can transfer to ContractorUmbrella when umbrella employment better suits or your assignment sits inside IR35.
  • Employee Benefits - at ContractorUmbrella there are many benefits available to you as our employee including our Employee Rewards Scheme, Group Pension Scheme, Foreign Currency Exchange, Contractor Accommodation, Contractor Mortgages and much more.
  • Personal Employee Liaison Officer - we believe in the personal touch, so you will have your very own dedicated Employee Liaison Officer during your employment with us. Read some of the glowing testimonials we've received about our lovely staff and the outstanding commitment they give to all our employees and clients.

If you’d like to find out more, call us on 01206 591 000 or request a call back by completing our online form.