Questions You Should Ask
What are the Normal Contract Hours?
It is best to clarify what the normal hours to be worked are at interview.
With most contractors on a daily rate it would be better to find out what they expect from you.
If they tell you the normal hours and these are not too long then that is fine.
IT Contractor’s Daily Rate
If they say ‘Our contractors are on a daily rate and we expect them to work whatever it takes to get their work finished’ then that is a red flag and an alarm bell should be going off in your head’.
That would be fine if you knew that they used some kind of scientific method for doing the estimating and had got it more or less correct.
However, you know that it will just be a finger in the air job by someone probably with not that much experience of doing it.
They can, and will, slant it to making it as tight as possible.
If someone screws up the estimate then it shouldn‘t be your prerogative to work long hours because of their mistake.
Daily Rate One Way
It is always a one-way thing.
When they talk about a daily rate they are always talking about the normal contract hours plus some extra.
If you knocked yourself out and got work finished ahead of schedule they would expect you to ask for more work rather than taking most afternoons off till the allotted time ran out.
If you are regularly finishing ahead of schedule they would simply cut their estimates for your future work.
It would be a good idea to get estimates for everything that you are going to do whilst you are there as that will make it more difficult for them to change it.
They will, essentially, cheat to make sure they get more out of you.
Function Point Analysis
It is just not in their playbook for you to finish work ahead of schedule and then shorten your days.
However, they would be up in arms if you finished your work behind schedule but didn‘t work extra hours.
Everybody wants something for nothing.
You could, of course, swot upon something like Function Point Analysis to show why the estimate is too low for tasks you get.
IT Contract – Two Options
However, you have basically two options here if they offer you the contract.
The first is to take the contract but just do the normal contract hours.
I bet the other contractors there mostly do that anyway.
They can‘t physically stop you going out the door.
Estimate Too High
You could, of course, point out that the estimate is too high but that would be a red rag to a bull.
I would, instead, come up with some good reason why you can‘t stay late, e.g. you‘re doing a night class or you‘ve got to pick up your kids from somewhere etc.
If you can‘t think your way out of this then you should pack in contracting and become a permie.
Leave the Contract
The other alternative that you have is to be warned and not take the contract.
IT Contractors seldom get the luxury of having two or more offers at the one time, as agency usually like to close the deal immediately and tell contractors that clients need to know if they‘ll take the contract by the end of the day.
This is seldom true, so, if you have another interview to go to, I would hold off the agency especially as you are in two minds about whether you want this contract.
Overtime Rates of Pay
It would be a good idea to ask them what the situation was as regards any extra time that may be needed to be worked and whether that would be paid or unpaid.
Also, ask them if you are likely to be on call at any stage and what the pay and conditions would be for that.
It‘s best to get these thing sorted up front.
After all, not only are you trying to sell yourself to them but they are trying to sell the job to you too.
Hellish Red Flag Signs
It‘s good to get the money and be working but many contractors have spent hellish months at a place where they should have seen the red flag signs at the interview.
Make sure you ate least know what you are letting yourself in for.
And the interview is the time to do it.
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