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Insider tips: How to simplify your next contract hire


As the interim and contracting specialist at [axr], and with over 15 years’ experience in this space, I often observe some common issues amongst clients when it comes to acquiring talent for interim/contract roles.

A prevalent issue is when a client struggles with understanding the best hiring process for contracting and interim staff. Often there is an urgency to get staff on board, yet clients undertake their interim hiring process as though they were hiring a permanent recruit. Now you may be thinking – and why not? Any additional headcount is vitally important to the success of the business and there should be no shortcuts…. right???? 

Well “Yes and No” is my answer. YES, it’s important and you need a robust process but NO it should not be the same process as a permanent hire. Why are you trying to hire a permanent person for your contract role? Would you undertake the same amount of research and due diligence when renting a holiday home as you would when you are buying one? NO. Exactly. You need to have different priorities in mind that fit your specific purpose.

I don’t like to see clients wasting their valuable time. Given the confusion in the market, I thought I would provide some insider tips that I believe are essential to simplifying the process and achieving timely success for 3 – 6 month contracts:

Tip#1 Technical verses Cultural fit

In my experience the best perm hires are ones where you have minimum criteria for technical expertise and then the decision is based entirely on attitude and cultural fit. For interim hires you should turn this on its head. You need a person who will get along with the team and not “rock the boat” but, first and foremost, you need someone to work efficiently with minimal assistance. You need a technical whizz to just get in and get the job DONE.

Tip#2 Speed of process

Over the years I have seen that if you approach an interim role with the mindset of a permanent hiring process with 3 round interviews, testing etc. etc. one of two things will happen by the time you finish the process:

1. The best candidates will already be placed elsewhere or

2. They will not be interested as they will feel your organisation cannot make good, efficient decisions.  

A good interim/contracting process should be:

o   A thorough job brief

o   A strong shortlist presentation and

o   A 1-stage interview process with solid references.

This process should be a 2– 3 day turnaround from presentation of CVs to offer. Now if you feel that is rushed, remember that in contracting you can call it off at short notice so you are always in control and can mitigate your risks.

Tip # 3 Opportunity for career development vs established skillset

Years of experience have taught me that interim roles should be either at the level of the candidate’s skillset or one small step below their previous experience. An interim role is not an opportunity to attempt to grow and develop the candidate’s skillset to what your business needs. It is an opportunity for your business to bring on skills to help you through a period of time and if they’re slightly overqualified all the better. Maybe they could even improve some processes for your business. It is important to note here I do not recommend over hiring a role by a substantial amount. There is a fine line to tread to ensure satisfaction for all parties involved. 

Tip #4 Maternity Leave and Long term contracts

One final tip to note is the timeline involved for maternity leave covers, temp-to-perm roles or 12 month projects. They should fit somewhere in the middle between a permanent and an interim process. My advice is that due to the extended length of these types of contracts you should run more of a “perm like” process but at a slightly faster pace to ensure that you find the right person to fit the team in a timely manner.

So next time you are looking to bring on board a contractor follow my insider tips and keep it simple! You and your team need to remember to prioritise your time and energy to ensure you find the right fit for your interim/contract role – fast!

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