What to Look for When Hiring Temporary Employees

July 27, 2021

Whenever finding temporary staffing is the order of the day at the office, it helps to know what to look for when putting together a shortlist of candidates. The right specialist skill — coupled with someone who has the right general skills to fit in well at your organisation — can make all the difference. 

So what are the most bankable skills to look out for when adding a temporary worker to the team? Whether you’re a junior executive or a department head, these skills will help you find the right person for the job, irrespective of the role or project at hand. 

What Skills Should Your Temporary Employees Have?

In the UK, the number of temporary employees are on the rise, increasing as much as 4.9% from March to May 2021. This is a worldwide trend, with more companies hiring temporary employees to meet a need for specific skills without adding a long-term fixed expense to existing overheads. The following general skills are essential to finding a good fit. 

  1.  Professionalism

Professionalism is one of the most important workplace skills anybody can have. Even if a temporary employee is only contracted for a short period, they still have to be able to adhere to the professional standards of the organisation. Being polite and well-spoken is a must, especially if they will be dealing directly with potential or existing clients as they go about their tasks. 

  1.  Impeccable time management

No matter the role, temporary employees should be equipped to manage their time well. Companies that hire someone with a specific skill for a one-off project are often dependent on that skill for its successful execution. The skill might be needed to move projects from one stage to the next. A person who repeatedly fails to meet deadlines (or even just shows up late for meetings) not only jeopardises the success of the project, but sends a subliminal message about their overall level of commitment as well. 

  1.  Dependability

Because there isn’t a lot of time to get to know a temporary worker, especially if they are only part of the team for a few weeks or months, their dependability should shine through right from the interview stage. Once hired, they should continue showing this by taking responsibility for their tasks and asking questions about things they are unsure about. If the project hits a snag and they are at fault in some way, a dependable person will acknowledge this right away and work to rectify things as soon as possible.

  1.  Flexibility

Temporary workers know all about flexibility, mostly because they are used to working on multiple projects at the same time or jumping from one to the next. Hiring managers should ask questions to gain an understanding of their overall flexibility, especially when it comes to their ability to adapt to the way the organisation does things. It’s never a good idea to step on anybody’s boundaries (no one likes to hear can you work until midnight tonight?), but finding a middle ground helps both parties show up respectfully to the process. 

  1.  Maturity about negative feedback

This is a big one, and one that doesn’t get as much attention as it should. A temporary employee is bound to receive feedback at some point. Some people might take negative feedback as a personal criticism, signalling emotional immaturity. A temporary employee who views this as not having met the needs of the organisation (or client or team leader) is much more likely to fix the problem without having to spend extra time untangling their personal feelings first.

  1.  Being conflict “ready”

When recruiting for a temporary worker, it’s worth asking shortlisted candidates about some examples of conflict management during past projects. A conflict “ready” person will have dealt with conflict respectfully without stoking the fire. Enquire about their ability to pause and take a step back in times of stress, which may signal how they respond during conflict, and save the team a lot of headaches over time. 

By hiring the right temporary employee, businesses can keep overheads manageable and meet the demands of projects requiring niche skills without having to take part in a drawn out recruitment process. 

Although the person might not be a part of the organisation for very long, it’s worth spending a little bit of extra time to find someone who has a wide range of general skills. This will provide peace of mind while simultaneously laying the foundation for a successful collaboration. 

It might even be sosuccessful that the person returns to work with your team again in future. They may even get the chance to apply to join the team full time at some point down the line. From there, anything is possible.