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Contract vs. Permanent Job Interviews: The Differences You Should Know

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If you’re looking for a job and aren’t sure which option is the best one for you, you’re in the right place. In this article, we’ll explain the difference between a contract and a permanent job and give you actionable tips to help you shine on whichever interview you go to.


What is a contract job?

Contract roles are temporary. They are meant to last for short periods of time, usually for employees that are working on a specific project. Since more and more companies are looking to hire temporary employees, it’s important to understand the shift in the marketplace.

As new roles pop up in the IT and SaaS industry every day, companies are looking for people who specialize in niche parts of the business. Since corporate surroundings don’t always let people grow in different directions, permanent workers don’t get to specialize in more than a few skills.

That’s why freelancers are in demand since they get to reskill themselves and spend time specializing in small avenues of business.

Pros and cons of a contract job

We already mentioned that contractors can spend more time honing different skills, without a meddling manager. Let’s look at some other benefits of a contract job.

Diversity in learning

Contractors have the freedom to work for a number of different companies and experience a variety of roles, management styles and responsibilities. With that comes the freedom to learn things and develop skills that aren’t closely connected to your current role.

Working on different projects, with different people and in different ways will help you gain tangible experience in a small window of time. Whichever direction you want to take your career, you can, and you don’t have to ask for permission or arrange it to complement your next project. The goal is to create an environment where people from all walks of life can learn. This starts with creating project management methodologies that accommodate for diversity in order to teach them and make use of their skill sets.

Test out your position before committing

Working for different companies and being assigned different roles and responsibilities lets you find the perfect role for you. Permanent job roles don’t give you this much flexibility. Working as a contractor allows you to try out different roles.

This is a great benefit for people who aren’t sure which role would suit them the best since they get to try out different things without the added pressure.

Work on your portfolio

Because contractors get to work on a lot of different projects, instead of focusing on one thing long-term, they get to expand their portfolio. Companies love well-rounded employees and respond preferably to people with vast portfolios.

Another benefit is expanding your network. Networking is important and when you’re a contractor, you get to work with a larger number of people than when you’re in a permanent job role.

The downsides of a contract job

There are just as many downsides to a contract job as there are benefits. For one, you don’t have a permanent source of income. Companies can easily terminate their role without an announcement.

Some companies may not even look at contractors as serious employees but as a seasonal workforce. Not all contract roles lead to permanent roles, which is something you need to keep in mind.

It can also be harrowing to go through onboarding processes over and over again. People crave security, not just financial but also the security that comes from working with the same group of people and knowing that once the project they’re working on is done, another one will come around the corner.

The difference in interviews

Now that we’ve covered the differences between contract and permanent roles, let’s jump into the differences you can expect in a job interview.

The way you sell yourself in the interview depends on whether you’re applying for a permanent or a temporary position. Companies that are looking for permanent positions are more likely to look for a person that can be shaped and coached over time to become the best fit for the role in the future.

Companies will invest in permanent workers, but contract role employees need to be ready for the position from day one. So make sure to highlight your skills and experiences that are closely related to the role you’re applying for. For example, make sure to stress your communication skills for a role in a call center.

Make sure to know the jargon, popular software, opinion makers in the industry and more. You need to relate that you’re experienced and have a wide range of knowledge and skills.

Since contract employees will most likely be interviewed only once, so you get only one chance to showcase your skills. Permanent roles usually come with a few rounds of interviews and a specific recruitment process that changes from role to role.

The last difference is the discussion of your goals. If you’re interviewing for a contract role, you shouldn’t discuss your long-term goals. Focus on the amount of time the role asks for and don’t talk about your 5-year plan.

You don’t want the hiring person to think that you’ll jump on the next best thing as soon as the opportunity arises. Discuss what you can bring to the company and how your past experiences will help you in this situation. Focus on the role and don’t talk too much about how the role will fit into the big picture. Last but not least, use the feedback as a learning experience for your next contract role.


The main difference between a permanent job and a contract one is how much you’ll get out of it. If you’re interested in different experiences and building your portfolio, you’ll love working as a contractor.

It gives you the freedom to experiment and try out different positions before committing. If you’re looking for a more secure position and already know the direction you want to grow in, you’ll flourish in a permanent position.

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About the Author: Vanja Maganjić, an experienced writer at Better Proposals. Vanja has a unique passion for creating content that helps brands connect with their customers. She believes in brands that stand up to the man and thinks that storytelling is an essential part of what makes us human. Her long term goal is to become the cool auntie that gives out family-sized Kit Kats on Halloween.

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