As a hiring manager, you may be in need of project specific help requiring a skill set that is not currently available in your organization. You decide to hire a contract worker with the needed skills. You work with your preferred staffing agency that specializes in the role you require. The agency will source, vet, and a background check qualified candidates for you to interview and select.
What should you do to ensure the best possible experience prior to and during the contractor interview and onboarding process?
Here are some tips to consider before the interview:
- Budget: Budget is an important consideration. Determine a range for the fee you can offer. Contractors will have different skill sets and levels of expertise. You need to be clear on whether it is an hourly, day, or fixed-fee rate.
- Hiring Schedule: If you are interviewing, be ready to offer work for immediate needs, not projects that are in the planning stage with a start date weeks or months away. Contractors with good skills are in demand and may not be able to wait for the project you have in mind. If the decision to hire is slow in coming, the contractor may be working on a project elsewhere and have to turn down your offer.
- Work Location: Determine whether the contractor needs to be onsite at your office. If they need to be onsite, what frequency and duration are required? This can affect the pool of resources available for you. Allowing contractors to work remotely part of the time will expand your choices of contractors. Contractors can still be on site for meetings, SME sessions, reviews, etc. but will appreciate the flexibility.
- Ongoing Communication: Determine your communication expectations for the duration of the project. Regularly scheduled project updates, whether individual or with the entire team, need to be defined. This is especially important for contractors working remotely.
- Company Culture: Whether you are hiring internally for an employee or for an external contractor, finding talent that can work effectively within the company culture is as important as skills. Ask yourself what traits do all the high performers in your company share? Look for those traits during the contractor interview.
During the contractor interview it is important to clarify the following:
- Task: The contractor must understand the overall project and the scope of the deliverables required. Be specific about the deliverables and expectations, including schedules and deadlines. If you determine that a team of contractors is needed, clarify the roles set out for each within the team.
- Time Commitment: The contractor needs to know the expected time commitment for the work: full time, a few hours a week, six weeks, three months. Clarify whether the time commitment might be flexible in the future.
- Portfolio and References: The contractor must provide a portfolio of work samples displaying their range of skills. The samples should be work from a
range of clients across various industries. References from previous clients, provided by the staffing agency, should provide evidence of the project worked and the outcome.
- Organization Tools: The contractor must understand the tools used within the organization (for example, Outlook, Yammer, SharePoint, etc.) and be versed in the use of the tools required for the skills work (for example Storyline or Captivate for eLearning development).
- Skills Assessment: If required by your organization, it may be necessary for the contractor to demonstrate an appropriate task based on the skills you require. An example might be a revision to the main menu of an eLearning course or to revise a short written topic to be more scenario driven.
Advance preparation to determine what is needed to successfully hire a contractor can benefit all parties involved in the process. The time you put into planning can help assure that both you and the contractor are clear on the scope and objectives, the project progresses smoothly, and is completed on time.
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