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Thinking about taking a contract position? Questions to ask

Over the years, I have accumulated a set of questions that I usually ask the placement firm about a contract position (W2 or 1099) that I am looking at taking.  Many of these questions will also apply if you are thinking about working as a salaried employee for a consulting firm:

- What is the job description?
- What is the length of the contract?
- What is the pay rate?
- What is the company name of your client that I would be working at?
- Where is the work location?
- Is this position W2 or 1099?
- When would you want me to start?
- Any other of your contractors at this company?  Can I talk to them?
- Are expenses paid (flight/car/hotel/meals)?
- What are the chances of the contract being extended?
- Are benefits available (medical/dental/LTD/STD/life/AD&D/vision), and how long before they take effect?  What are the deductibles and premiums?
- Are there any paid vacation, sick, holidays?
- Is there any monthly/yearly bonus?
- Any paid training?
- How long are contractors usually on the bench between projects?  Is bench time paid?  How long will you let someone stay on the bench before you “let them go”?
- Is any overtime expected?  Is it paid?
- What are the typical work hours?
- Is the job location close to a park-and-ride?  Will I be reimbursed if I have to pay for parking?
- What are the pay periods?
- Do you have contractors just in this city or nationwide?
- Are there other contractors in your company I can exchange technical questions?
- Is there a chance the next project will be in a different city?
- Are there promotions?  Annual reviews?
- What is my job title?
- Is there a sign-on bonus?
- Will I be in a cubical or office?
- Is a laptop/computer provided or do I need my own?
- What languages/tools will I be using?
- Is this more of a maintenance role or new development?
- Will I need to be on-call at all?
- Can you describe my day-to-day duties?
- Is there a 401k?  Any employer match?
- Any stock options?
- What is the driving distance to the work location from my house?
- What is the bill rate you will be charging the client that I will be working at?
- Who would be my “boss”?

Hopefully this list will spur you on to ask many questions so there are no “surprises” that happen after you take a contract position.

James Serra's Blog

James is a big data and data warehousing technology specialist at Microsoft. He is a thought leader in the use and application of Big Data technologies, including MPP solutions involving hybrid technologies of relational data, Hadoop, and private and public cloud. Previously he was an independent consultant working as a Data Warehouse/Business Intelligence architect and developer. He is a prior SQL Server MVP with over 30 years of IT experience. James is a popular blogger (JamesSerra.com) and speaker, having presented at dozens of PASS events including the PASS Business Analytics conference and the PASS Summit. He is the author of the book “Reporting with Microsoft SQL Server 2012”. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.


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