This article, about unwanted contractors, is from a client who hires contractors.
I have interviewed dozens of IT contractors. Some I will hire before others. The following are the type of contractors I don‘t want.
1. Unwanted Contractors – The Scruff
It doesn‘t take much to present oneself well at an interview. Even it is a dress down place contractors should show respect for their interview and their potential new company by making some kind of effort to impress. When I see someone dressed casually at an interview I always think that they‘re saying ‘You‘ll have to fit in with me rather than the other way round’.
2. Unwanted Contractors – The Unprepared
When contractors join us I want them to prepare themselves well and do their homework. What gives me a signal that they are likely to be this kind of contractor is if they prepare before they come to the interview. They should at least know what the company do before they arrive. This information is easy to get. They could ask their agency or they can get the information from the company website.
3. Unwanted Contractors – The Chancers
There are some people who arrive at the interview who obviously don‘t know the skills that the client requires. Despite this they still try and bullshit their way through the questions. This is a total waste of my time. I presume that they were hoping that there would be no technical questions and that I would take their word for it.
The agencies that send them don‘t impress me either.
4. Unwanted Contractors – The Techniquers
I don‘t know who gives advice to people about the techniques that they should have at an interview. A very firm handshake may impress a girl from HR but if someone puts a death grip on my hand when shaking it, it just p*sses me off, firstly because it may hurt a little, secondly because I realise it is a technique. I‘m going to give the contract to someone who can do the job.
We don‘t have vacancies for people who can wring other people‘s hands. We have no call for it.
5. Unwanted Contractors – The Bored
There are two ways that people show me that they are not interested in what they are being told about the company or the job. The first ones are those that actually look bored and show it. The second are those that pay excessive attention, as somoene told them that it shows interest. Some of them show it by never taking their eyes off you for a second. Their eyes grow wider and wider as they force themselves to listen to what you are telling them. It‘s quite spooky. You either have interest in the job and company or you don‘t.
I want those who do!
6. Unwanted Contractors – The Beggars
I am sure that someone told them that it is a good technique at an interview. Either that or they are just desperate. I‘ve had several of the ones who say things like ‘If you just give me this chance I‘ll not let you down’. One guy even said that he would work for a graduate‘s salary rather than the salary of the Systems Manager that I was hiring for till he‘d proved himself to me. I did hire him and, of course, I did give him the full salary, but he wasn‘t worth even the graduate‘s salary. I have never found that any of these type of guys ever turn out to be very good.
7. Unwanted Contractors – Those Unaware of Problems
Many places give technical interviews. I tend not to as those just off a course would be better at doing them than someone with several years‘ experience, the reason being that all areas of the skill are covered by the course, whereas only a subset of those are used in practice.
What I find best is to ask interviewees what can go wrong and how they could fix it. If you are hiring a Project Manager who knows all the latest Prince, ISO and CMM techniques, but who doesn‘t know what could go wrong at the various stages of a project and what you can do to stop that happening or to fix it when it does happen, then you are going to have major problems on your project if you hire him or her – even of they can answer all the Prince questions.
8. Unwanted Contractors – Those with Longer Contracts
There is little point in taking references. It is against the law to give a bad reference, and most people will give them anyway, whether the person is any good or not. The person who is being interviewed can also pick who they get references from and I don‘t know the people from Adam.
No, I much prefer to look at the lengths of their previous contracts. If they keep getting renewed then that is the best reference you can get from a previous employer. If they have short contracts, and they seldom get renewed, you can say that previous employers are voting with their boots.
9. Unwanted Contractors – The Cushy Number Brigade
It doesn‘t look good at an interview if contractors start enquiring if they can do some of their work from home, or whether they can do all of their hours in 4 days taking Friday off. I‘m not averse to some of the work being done from home as long as I can monitor that it is being done. Also, if someone lives a long way off and asks at the interview if they can come to some arrangement I don‘t mind that either. However, there are some that you know are just looking for an easy time and that doesn‘t come across well at the interview.
10. Unwanted Contractors – The Tanned Porsche Driver
Perhaps this is just prejudice on my part, but let me give you an example of one of these type of creatures that I didn‘t hire. He was late for the interview but phoned me up to say that he was having trouble parking his Porsche. Could I give him some advice. Why he had to tell me it was a Porsche I don‘t know, because he could just have said that he was having trouble parking his car. Perhaps he thought it would impress me. He thought wrong.
When he did arrive he started prattling on about his Porsche. He was obviously well suntanned and he told me that he had just come back from Barbados and proceeded to tell me about the snorkeling, the trip in the submarine, and various other holiday memories.
I was not in a very good mood anyway and so I just wanted rid of this pratt. The interview lasted around 15 minutes and I told him I‘d be in touch with his agent.
I could just picture this guy regaling my project team with tales of his holidays and why one version of a Porsche is better than another. Firstly I want people who look like they want to roll up their sleeves. Secondly it would have p*ssed off the project team most severely.
So, I‘ve got that off my chest about the type of contractors I don‘t like at interview. I‘ll follow up shortly with an article on those that I do.
Ad – Contractor Services
If you do need an umbrella company you could try one of the following:-
Public Sector Umbrella Company
All-inclusive contractor accountancy service. Best value in the UK for a personal service, no tie in periods and an accounting package tailored to you – Aardvark Accounting.