Good contract is one thing, getting paid another. At the end of the day, gentleman’s agreement still rules in most business relations. When we talk about small sums of money–and in business 10K or even 100K is often considered a small amount, nobody is going to open lawsuits and take their business partners to the court. The costs are just too high to bear.
Yet companies want to have bulletproof contracts, they want to be protected. If something unexpected happens–be it a crisis, a virus pandemic, an environmental issue, or some unforeseen catastrophe or bankruptcy, they want to be covered and protected.
You will be responsible for this as a Contract Administrator. You will review all contracts for your employer, looking for flaws hidden in between the lines, and suggesting improvements. In some cases you may be responsible also for drafting new contracts, though internal procurement and legal department may bear the responsibility.
This is a great job, with a lot of impact, and an excellent pay (often exceeding $100,000 annually). Let’s have a look at questions you will face in your interview for this interesting position.
Can you please tell us something about your working experience?
You need at least some experience to get this job, and this is no icebreaker question. Try to talk about doing things you will do in your new job. You shouldn’t just narrate the names of positions you had in the past. Focus rather on the documents you worked with, flaws you spotted, and how you helped your employer to save a significant sum of money, or protected them from some legal pitfall.
How long you had your previous job doesn’t matter much in this case. The most important thing is whether you worked with a variety of contracts, and learned the things that will help you in your new job. Try to convince the interviewers that you have such an experience.
How do you imagine your cooperation with managers, HR and other bodies from our company?
Ensure them that you want to actively cooperate with your colleagues. While you understand the legal part of contracts–the language, the compliance, and other; only managers and HR people understand the contents. That means what the company wants to achieve in relation to their suppliers, customers, or employees.
Unless the two of you cooperate together, the company won’t have outstanding contracts. Tell the interviewers that you do not plan to dictate the managers what they should write in the contract. You will let them do their work, following their goals, and then you will step in and review it, giving recommendations on possible improvements.
Here is one of our contracts (they hand you a contract, typically something not very long). Review it and suggest areas of improvement. You have 10 minutes.
This is the real deal. You can win a job with a good answer, and you can also lose your chances with a bad one. Remember that they observe a lot of things during those 10 minutes they gave you to prepare your answer.
Try to work systematically on the task. Read the contract from top to bottom and make notes. They may include some apparent errors on the document, such as missing address of one contract party or no numbering of pages or missing definition of legal terms. Keep your eye on those.
Remember that each job applicant will get the same task. If you can demonstrate your creativeness at this point, spotting something other job candidates won’t notice, you can easily win your interviewers over. Instead of looking only for errors and inconsistencies, try to consider the contract also from business point of view. Is the company covered if this or that happens? Are penalties for not obeying the contract set clearly?
Check it carefully, try your best, and do not hesitate to share any kind of suggestions. The worst thing you could do would be saying that there was nothing to improve on the contract. They do not want to hire someone who’ll simply nod their head and agree with everything. Having such a person in their team would be just a lost of money.
How do you prioritize your work when you have many documents to review?
You can suggest few options at this point:
- Asking the top managers which contract you should review first. They have a better knowledge of the business, and know the importance of various contracts over time. Once you communicate with the managers on a daily basis, it should be obvious for you which contract to review first, and which one can wait a little.
- Starting with the contracts with business partners and particularly suppliers–because each supplier typically has their own contract, and these are new documents for the managers. This means a greater room for an error, and for making a costly mistake. Employee agreements and other documents that have a standard form (or at least are somehow familiar for the managers) come second.
- Third option is suggesting following the FIFO principle. To not get lost and not let anyone waiting for too long, you will simply review the documents in an order in which you received them.
Think about the type of business and contracts you will review and choose the best option for your interview.
Describe a time when you struggled to communicate something to one of your colleagues (for example some complex contract terms). How did you manage to get your message over?
What they are really trying to find out with this question is whether you can actually overcome your ego and speak about difficult things in a simple language, without trying to impress your audience with your knowledge of legal terminology.
Narrate a situation when you explained something complex to an average Joe from the company. You used demonstration and examples, perhaps even prepared some short case studies (what might happen if they would not include this or that in the contract), and explained everything in terms of implications it can have on their business.
That’s exactly the attitude hiring managers expect from an ideal candidate for a job of a Contract Administrator.
Special Tip: Download all interview questions for Contract Administrator job applicants in a one page long PDF, print it, and practice your interview answers anytime later:
Do you have any experience with negotiating contract terms?
In some cases contract administrators may participate in negotiations with company’s business partners. They are there to help translate the business goals of both contract parties into a meaningful agreement, valid from a legal point of view.
If you have an experience, try to emphasize that you did not play a leading role (because you should not play such, that’s for the managers), but played an active part in the negotiations. You listened and intervened when necessary, primarily protecting the interests of your employer.
If you do not have such an experience, you can at least say that you feel ready to take part in any negotiations. You can read and review contracts on the spot, and will try to help negotiating the best possible terms for your employer.
Other questions you may face in your contract administrator job interview
- What do you want to accomplish while working as a contract administrator for our company?
- If we hire you for this job, what will be the first thing you do in your office?
- Tell us about a time when you showed initiative at work.
- When you worked on multiple projects (contracts), how did you prioritize?
- Imagine that there are no documents to review left on your table. How will you use your time in work in such a case?
- Why did you leave your last job?
- What is your knowledge of our business field and related legislation and regulations?
- How do you imagine your cooperation with a compliance officer?
- What motivates you the most in work?
- Tell us one thing about yourself you wouldn’t want us to know.
- What challenges are you looking for in this job?
* Special Tip: If you struggle with answers to the question on the list, or experience anxiety before your interview, have a look at our Interview Success Package. Premium answers to all tricky interview questions you may face in your Contract Administrator interview will help you stand out and impress the hiring mangers. Thank you for checking it out!
Conclusion, next steps
Interview for a job of a contract administrator belongs to difficult job interviews. This is a prestigious job title, and you will surely compete for the job with at least two or three other skilled legal professionals.
Try to learn as much as you can about your prospective employer–their business field, what type of contracts and documents they likely deal with, their main competitors, laws and regulations in the field, etc.
In order to succeed you will have to demonstrate excellent knowledge of your field, and an ability to spot mistakes and areas for improvement on basically any type of contract.
They may test this ability directly in an interview (giving you a contract to review), which will be the most important part of the entire interview. If you do it well, they may hire you almost immediately. If you fail to spot the errors, rest of your interview will be an uphill battle…
But you should prepare also for other questions from this article. Because if all interviewed applicants pass the practical test in an interview (reviewing a contract), answers to other questions will decide about the winners and losers…
I hope you won’t underestimate anything and wish you good luck!
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- Body language in an interview – What do your gestures and movements say about you? Can we control our non-verbal communication? And how to do it right to connect with our interviewers?
- Salary negotiation tips – You definitely have some negotiation power in an interview for a job of a Contract Administrator. Learn how to get the most of it.
- How to overcome interview nerves – Simple guide will help you get rid of anxiety and be your best self on a big day.