There are certain must-ask freelancer interview questions every business owner should always have ready. An interview with a freelancer is not simply an opportunity to ask questions. Ask the right freelancer interview questions, and you as the business owner will receive vital information about the freelancer and how they handle clients and projects. Their answers will indicate which freelancer is the right person to hire for a project.
Each freelancer interview is unique in requiring its own tweaks to the basic list of questions and responses. By asking the right questions, the potential for problems and misunderstandings that may occur during the project are minimized or removed. The business owner and freelancer can then start the project with a clear understanding of what is the expected outcome. With a clear understanding, the freelancer can accomplish better results.
Potential obstacles can also come to light that should be addressed before commencing with the project. The right freelancer interview questions allow the business owner to assess if potential obstacles are worth working on or if hiring a different freelancer is the better option.
When you write up freelancer interview questions, you shouldn’t feel like you’re just rolling the dice. Hiring freelancers might seem just like a risky game of chance most of the time, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
How do you come up with freelancer interview questions that can accurately determine a potential freelancer’s skillset, attitude, and communication style while still keeping the interview from dragging on forever?
FreeUp founders Nate Hirsch and Connor Gillivan recently sat down in a live chat to discuss the best freelancer interview questions. We’ve summarized their thoughts here, based on years of experience hiring freelancers for their businesses. With their sound advice, you can start interviewing with purpose to hire with confidence.
Know that recruiting remote freelancers is difficult. There’s no way to get around the fact that hiring remote freelancers takes practice.
You first have to figure out the best place to find and recruit the type of remote freelancer you are looking for. Then you have to walk them through a detailed interview process to make sure that they have the skills to perform the tasks that you need completed. Finally, you have to make an educated decision based off of a couple of conversations that you have had with the person determining whether they are a good fit for your company and the role.
That’s quite the gambit of tasks while you’re also trying to run your business.
But don’t let that turn you away from hiring the help that you need.
When a business starts growing, your responsibilities within it with grow as well. You can either choose to spend all your time trying to keep up with those demands, or realize that you need help. You can continue to do everything yourself, or take some tasks off your plate so that you can make room for the most important work. Only you are in the best position to continue to help your business grow, so choosing to hire a few people to pass off tasks to is the best decision for your business.
It’s hard to find great people with the skillsets you need who are also a perfect fit for your company culture. You can go through one interview after another and have nothing to show for it but a big headache and a bunch of time wasted. Growth is an exciting time for your company, but freelancer interview failures can suck all the joy out of it. It also makes you feel less and less comfortable handing the reins over as you go from one awful interview experience to the next.
This is why you need to prepare great freelancer interview questions to streamline the process so you can find the people who will boost productivity and free up your time.
Connor and Nathan have several years of experience hiring A-level freelancers, and through that, FreeUp can point you in the right direction.
There are thousands of remote freelancers looking for new positions every day. There are also a lot of freelancers with a wide variety of skillsets. As a business owner, you have an endless pool of freelancers to choose from who are willing and able to take on your task. However, not all of them are going to be the perfect fit for you or your business.
In order to make the most of what little time you have, you must define exactly who you want for the role that you are hiring for. You need to first focus on zooming in and narrowing down the candidates before spending time and energy interviewing them. While some positions are perfectly suited to an inexperienced freelancer with the desire to learn, others require a high degree of experience and specific skills that not everyone will have or be able to master.
Here’s a few areas to get started on to clearly define your needs and expectations.
Determine the skills a remote freelancer will need to possess in order to successfully fulfill the requirements of the task. Be specific.
Don’t just say, for example, that the freelancer needs to be an efficient communicator. How will they be expected to communicate? Speaking over the telephone requires quite a different skill set than writing emails or blog posts. Using a simple email program is quite a bit different than being able to navigate a complex computer program.
Determine the setup and certifications that a remote freelancer needs to have already or be willing to get. How proficient do they need to be before beginning? How much will they be able to learn as they go? Are you able to set up this new hire or should they already be an expert?
Determine the qualities you want in a freelancer. Think about your business and company culture as well as your own personal values. What type of person fits that avatar? Hiring a person with the personal virtues you desire is much easier than trying to build a culture with a person who has differing values.
Define the specific skill set, for instance, advanced macros in Excel. Add in the number of years of experience they need to have with that specific skill set, for example, over 3 years.
List down other specific requirements, like:
When you narrow in on the exact criteria that you are looking for, it becomes much easier to say “no” to applicants that don’t fit the bill. Don’t be afraid to say “no” either — there are plenty of fish in the sea and through this process, you will find the one that’s perfect for your pond.
Then it becomes easier to quickly go through the candidate profiles from your job posting and determine a shortlist of people to bring on for an interview.
Using the specifics from Step 1, create an in-depth job posting that outlines your ideal candidate, introduces them to your company, and tells them about the purpose of the role in the company.
Post on only the platforms where you want to recruit based on your requirements and the position that you are looking to fill.
As applicants roll in, compare their information to your ideal candidate checklist. If there are too many inconsistencies, don’t waste your time. Keep searching and keep reading new applications until you find the best ones.
You may dread the prospect of long interviews. If that’s the case, we’ve got you covered. Split up the interview process into the following 3 stages. This will help you quickly determine the reliability and competence of a potential hire as well as whether they’re suited to the project you’re posting.
Go through your ideal candidate checklist and make sure that applicants meet all of your key criteria. If they can’t meet a number of characteristics that you’ve deemed essential, move onto the next applicant. Don’t waste your time on an applicant that simply won’t work out.
If the applicant meets your key criteria, focus on their skill set. Look at their expertise and how long they have been practicing the particular skill you are looking for. If they seem to know what they’re talking about, dive into different task-related scenarios. If the applicant does not seem to excel in the exact task you are looking for, move on.
If the applicant appears to have the skills that you need, the final step is getting to know them a bit more personally. They are someone that you could potentially be working with for a long period of time. This stage can make sure that the applicant is reliable and will be a good long term hire.
Depending on how much time you have, you can split these stages into 3 separate meetings or you can do it all at once. If you decide to split it up, make sure to have the meetings within a relatively close window of time. You don’t want to forget what you talked about during the applicant’s first meeting.
Start with the details that you wrote out earlier about the type of freelancer you want to hire. These will essentially serve as the best responses to your questions. This way, you can make sure to ask questions that tune into what you want to hear in response. For instance:
If you know the answers you want, then you’ll be able to ask specific questions and also easily recognize them in the interview if they have already been answered. It also makes it easier to spot any red flags.
It’s also vital for you to know the importance of each question for your business. Here are some pointers:
As you get through the general requirements for finding the best fit for your project, get more specific with alternative questions that will serve to clarify if a freelance applicant can meet the needs of the project and the business.
The interview is critical to ensuring that you find the right person for your specific needs. No one wants to waste the time, energy and money it takes to redo the entire hiring process if a new hire doesn’t work out. So here are a few tips to master the interview process with a remote freelancer so you can be more productive.
Have a list of questions ready and available to confirm all of the criteria you laid out. If your position is highly technical, you may ask to see proof of expertise or administer your own test. You may choose to ask a few behavioral type questions to determine how the candidate responds to different situations. You could also ask to see the candidate’s online profile with examples of previous work. The key is to validate that the candidate is a great match for your business before you make an offer.
If a remote freelancer already has experience in the virtual world, the chances are he or she is already used to the expectations that come with the territory. But do not make that assumption. Instead, be brutally honest about your expectations. It is far better to lay out exactly what you expect right from the beginning rather than find yourself with surprises later on. This goes both ways. Directly ask the candidate what their expectations are from you and your company. When it comes to finding the right remote freelancer, openness goes a long way.
Sure, the candidates might sit halfway across the world from you, but that doesn’t mean you can’t interview them face-to-face. Take advantage of technology and set up a video call for your interview. Body language and facial expressions often say a lot more than words alone. You can feel out the candidates a lot quicker if you can see their faces as you talk.
Remember to be constantly thinking about your needs and the needs of your company as the freelancer answers. How well does the potential candidate match up?
Beyond the direct responses that candidates give, pay attention as well to how they respond. What is their general attitude towards work? How professional are they? Do you get along with them?
When you’re looking for that perfect match, you should never feel like you have to settle. Choose hires with long-term goals for your company in mind, even if the position you are hiring for isn’t necessarily a long-term one. You want to find someone who is committed, competent, and reliable, and these questions will help you do just that.
Think about the kind of character and personality you would like a person who works with you to have. These can be honesty, loyalty, efficiency, or the ability to pivot. Are you looking for someone dedicated and detail-oriented? Warm and friendly? Listen for the qualities that you value. Don’t ask them straight up, because they might simply just say “yes” to every quality.
This question helps reveal things about the freelancer’s natural talents and passions as well as their attitude and work ethic, among other important freelancer characteristics.
Often, when you hear their story, you can determine their primary motivation for entering a specific field of work. Are they a software engineer because that’s what their parents wanted them to study? Or did they get into advertising because they took a class in college and realized how much they loved it?
You really want to find someone who loves what they do. It will mean a lot more positive energy infused into each task and result in much better work.
This question is the best way to determine a freelancer’s current availability, since it goes beyond work commitments alone. You need to not only determine how much time a freelancer is spending on other clients, but also whether they have other responsibilities such as school or childcare, as well as hobbies or other activities that take up their time.
It doesn’t matter if a freelancer is perfectly qualified in every other way. If they cannot be available when you need them, it’s better to move on immediately. Simply skip the rest of the interview if you don’t find a good fit here.
This question will help you determine whether the freelancer is interested in making a lengthy commitment. This is important because it affects your turnover rate, which affects overall productivity and expenses.
Is contract work just a means to an end for the candidate, or are they passionate about growing their own business? How likely are they to stick with you for a year? For five?
This is something that most people may not be entirely honest about, but it’s still worth asking. If you craft your questions carefully, you can glean more from their answer in combination with how they responded to the first question.
Find out what the freelancer’s long-term goal is. For freelancers who prefer working long term with clients, it indicates that they want to build a lasting relationship and help grow the business. These freelancers also often have additional skills and experience they can bring to the table. They have a broader vision than the current task or project assigned to them. Often, they will volunteer helpful suggestions within the working process and recommend additional tasks they can perform to enhance business growth.
This is an easily skipped question, but it’s important to talk to freelancers about it. If they live overseas, it’s absolutely essential. This is to make sure that the differing time zones are clearly understood and accurately reflect what the freelancer expects and is willing to make adjustments for.
Hiring a freelancer from overseas can mean a dramatic discount on cost, but their time zone might prove a detriment. If you need them from 9AM to 5PM in the western hemisphere, triple check that they understand what time this equates to in their part of the world.
One of the greatest benefits of outsourcing is the worldwide pool of freelance resources. It allows the business owner to find the right freelancer without being bound to local talent. Hiring an international freelancer means the ability to provide services during off hours.
You need to make sure, however, that they are prepared to sign on for what might mean odd hours or all-night work. Have they ever worked overnight before? What were their experiences? All of this information should factor into your final decision.
Moreover, if it is important to communicate with the freelancer within business hours, then it is important to know when the time zones overlap.
Asking about general work experience is far less important than asking what experience they have in the specific position you are looking for.
Connor cautions against hiring someone who is spread too thin, experience wise. It’s better to find someone who is great at the one or two things you need and who can specialize in those things, rather than someone who has tried a little bit of everything but doesn’t have true expertise in any area.
The next two freelancer interview questions make great follow-ups to this point. They will allow you to better see the freelancer’s true colors in case they have not been honest about their experience.
This question will again dive into what a freelancer thinks about their own capabilities, and if they sound confident. Listen carefully to what they say and how they say it. This will help you determine not only their true skills — both hard and soft skills — but also how much they believe in themselves, which relates closely to their ability to work unsupervised and still be highly productive.
This question has two primary benefits. First, it’s a great way to hone in on experience. A specific rating, and a reason why, forces the freelancer to explain more as they justify their score. They will have to think harder and base their responses on real examples from their work history.
For example, if you need help with spreadsheets, ask them to rate their Excel skills on a scale from 1-10, and then to explain and justify the score they gave themselves. You will have an easier time determining their skill level with the specific information given.
Second, this question is a good way to spot some red flags. For example, if a freelancer rates each skill as a 10, but only has a few months of experience in each category, then they may have an inflated ego that indicates that they will be difficult to work with. If a freelancer gives a low score in a category they’ve worked in forever, this tends to mean that they either struggle to pick up new things or are timid, which likely also means they lack initiative.
Basically, look for any discrepancies between scores and their actual amount of experience. If something doesn’t sound right, ask them to expound on their answers.
A freelancer who is excited about the project and goals moves the business owner to want to hire them immediately. Enthusiasm and passion are important. Although a freelancer should always give their best, being enthusiastic and passionate about the project is extra motivation.
Enthusiasm and passion, however, won’t get the project done if the freelancer isn’t competent enough. The freelancer’s response to how they would handle the project gives insight into their organizational skills, their work method, and their time management skills.
Knowing how they would approach the project will also determine if their approach correlates with the business and the desired approach for that project.
Another way of asking this question is to ask the freelancer what they would do on the day they start working on the project. It shows if the freelancer understood the scope of the project, the goals, and milestones. The freelancer’s answer should also correlate with the goals and requirements you’ve set.
Giving someone a specific scenario is another great way of truly determining their level of experience.
For example, if you’re hiring a content writer who specializes in Amazon, you could show them a product page and ask what steps they would take to boost sales for that product. The specialist should be able to quickly and easily pinpoint problems with the page and give you at least some basic ideas for how to improve them. By the same token, you could have a salesperson review a pitch, or ask a designer how they might improve your website home page.
Creating a specific scenario means circumventing pre-rehearsed answers. You will be able to see how the freelancer thinks about an actual problem, and how familiar they are with the necessary tools and processes to solve it.
A freelancer may be excellent at understanding the different responsibilities and roles which are placed before them. It is also important, however, to know whether they can handle difficult encounters when they rear their ugly heads.
Give them examples of past debacles you have personally been in and learn how they would approach the problem. Ask them about their own experiences fixing an internal problem with another client or freelance hire.
While there are many great ways to respond to this question, pay attention to how they treat the other person and if they sound honest because this will show you how they will treat you and your other hires.
You will also learn how well your prospect can problem solve within your business and if they are easy-going or headstrong. The internal workings of your business are built on the foundations of people who know when to back down or speak up.
Asking them this question will determine how much homework they have done on your business. The more they know about you, your core values, and how you conduct business, the better they understand your main goals.
Target the one or two skills that you most need the freelancer to have. Asking about their strengths is a great way to make sure that their skills align with your most important needs. It’s also a great way to verify that their ratings and experience tie in nicely together.
This freelancer interview question is also a nice way to set standards for their future work with you. As you near the end of the interview, it is a natural shift from past work towards this new role.
For example, if a freelancer mentions that they are very hardworking and will produce a ton of work in a short amount of time, you can hold them to it. You can take their original responses as promises they made you and being able to cite them is an excellent way to provide motivation. It’s also a completely fair reason to let them go, if they are not meeting the expectations that they themselves set up.
When hiring a copywriter or Facebook post designer, for instance, knowing the number of hours the freelancer is available isn’t as important as knowing whether they can meet due dates. If you want to publish weekly blog posts or post daily images to your audience, it is important to know if the freelancer can deliver on time. It won’t help if the launch date of a new product approaches and there’s no landing page content or marketing material to back it up.
Before asking this question, you should have an idea how long the assignment or project should take. It will avoid placing unrealistic expectations on the freelancer. It will also help to know if the freelancer’s estimates are realistic.
Note that the estimated time of completion could be 8 hours, but that doesn’t mean the due date is within 8 hours. Asking about turnaround time lets you know when the freelancer will be able to deliver the completed project. Freelancers have more than one client. The freelancer could be booked and only available to work on an assigned project 2 weeks from now. Knowing this upfront allows you to plan accordingly.
When asking freelancer interview questions, many business owners tend to either ask this question upfront or leave it until the very end. We believe the perfect time to bring up price is right after you talk about experience and availability. This provides grounding to the conversation.
Before you interview, always research the fair market rate for someone in the same field of work and location with the same level of experience you are looking for. That will help you be prepared to negotiate. Don’t offer more than the freelancer is worth based on their experience, but don’t lowball them either.
Lowballing freelancers is an especially dangerous game. It shows the person that you do not value them. This can immediately hurt whatever motivation they have to work with you. They will also tend to have less loyalty and commitment to you if they do decide to stick with it, which means that they will not hesitate to terminate your agreement if someone offers them what they’re worth.
Methods of communication are essential when outsourcing to international freelancers and even freelancers across the country. It is important to know if the methods the freelancer uses are the preferred communication methods of the business.
Get ultra-specific with this question. Do they usually communicate with clients by calling them on the phone? Do they prefer to text or Skype? Is email the most convenient means of communicating for them? Or do they use social media channels or CRMs to ask questions and give updates?
By supplying various methods, the freelancer portrays their flexibility to fit into the business’ communication strategy. If none of the channels they are accustomed to using work well for you, make sure to ask them if they are comfortable with your preferred methods of communication.
If you like to send hourly emails, and a hire checks their inbox only once a day, that’s something you need to know. Review each type of communication you’ll use with a freelancer — text messages, phone calls, video chats — and make sure they are comfortable communicating the way you do.
Don’t forget to ask about how the freelancer handles communication when they are going to be late or have an emergency that prevents them from showing up for work.
Communication is a critical factor for a good working relationship. During the interview tell the freelancer how frequently they should communicate and at what milestones of the project.
Responses to these questions show if the freelancer understands what kind of communication is necessary for a project. Even if the rest of the freelancer interview questions yielded impressive results, this candidate may not be a good fit if you foresee a problem with communication down the line.
For ongoing projects that require a certain number of hours per week, this is an important question to ask. Amazon sellers and other e-commerce businesses, for instance, must ask this question. Tasks these business owners outsource are often recurring tasks or tasks that require a certain amount of time to complete.
Many candidates may think there’s some wiggle room here if you don’t ask about it directly and specifically. Give them the exact hours you need, and then ask them if they can realistically stick to that. As a follow-up, ask about other clients they might have. What are their time commitments to these other clients? How much work do they do for them each week?
Without prying too much into their personal life, you want as complete a picture as you can get of their work times. Sometimes, the number of hours available or specific work times isn’t as important. Just ask how each week and day looks for them currently so you can verify that they can complete assignments. If the work schedule matters, ask if they can work the specific days and times that you prefer.
Freelancers are often keen to start new projects. They may not accurately calculate their available hours or could assume they will have enough time for the new project. When asking the number of hours available, it forces the freelancer to calculate the actual time they are available and not just an estimate.
This is an often overlooked question, but it is essential. Asking about their connectivity and capacity not only gives you a clear picture of where they are at, but it also sets expectations for the future.
Be thorough about the basics. Ask about the frequency of power outages in their area. Ask what backups they have in case of a connection or power loss. It’s always important to understand their strategy. If they don’t have backups in place, how are they going to make a virtual meeting or even tell you they can’t make it if their connection suddenly goes down?
Get specific as you quiz them, depending on the type of work you’re outsourcing. For example, if you’re hiring someone to do customer calls, ask about the type of connection that they have. Is it DSL or Fiber? Who is their provider? What is the minimum speed on their plan? If you’re hiring a graphic designer, ask about their computer setup. What is your ROM? What type of graphics card do you have? What kind of software do you use?
This is where you can ask freelance interviewees about your pet peeves. Ask them, for example, how they feel about getting urgent late night emails. Give them a scenario where they’re working with someone on a project and that person doesn’t submit their part on time. Ask them how a sudden change in working hours comes across to them.
You will want to know how they respond to the behaviors that annoy you so you can get clear on what they have a tendency to do. If they frequently engage in all of your least-favorite business habits, it’s good to know upfront.
This is one of the most easily missed freelancer interview questions although it should never be set aside. Unlike most full-time job-seekers, freelancers aren’t always available to start right away, particularly if you’re hiring for more than 20 hours a week.
The best freelancers will often have current clients and previous commitments that aren’t quite complete yet. In an ideal world, they would have checked your ticked details, but in case they missed it or your needs have changed, you need to confirm this with them.
If the freelancer can’t get started right away, decide whether it’s worth it to wait. Don’t pressure them into starting early. They likely have a lot on their plate already, which means the work they deliver will be rushed and not up to standard.
In the same vein, for longer-term work, ask them if they have any big vacations coming up in the next few months. You need to know immediately about anything that is going to affect the amount of work they can deliver from day to day or week to week.
It’s important to get a freelancer’s questions answered because work isn’t a one-way street going your way. Both parties must conclude positively that this is a great fit and that they are comfortable moving forward with it.
If the freelancer has a genuine interest in working with you, then they will likely have questions about you and your business. They will want to know specifics about the arrangement, just like you do. This portion of the interview gives them an opportunity to clarify things that you may not have thought about.
Giving them the stage also sets a good tone for the end of the interview. It shows them that the relationship is give and take, and not dictatorial in nature. Freelancers are business owners like you, not yes-men who are only good for doing what they’re told. You want to be able to take advantage of their experience and passion, and giving them some power is how this happens.
If a freelancer doesn’t have anything specific in mind at the time of the interview, go ahead and share information about your business. Let them know about the culture, goals, management style – anything that’s important to establishing and growing a good working relationship.
Then you can end the interview on a positive note, letting the freelancer know when you’ll make your final decision if you haven’t decided to hire them on the spot.
Hiring a freelancer doesn’t have to be difficult. If you’re just getting started or you’ve been doing this a while, there are qualified professionals out there who can do the work you have and do it all at a high level. These must-ask freelancer interview questions will help you weed out people and find the needle in the haystack.
Remember that hiring freelancers can free up your time and help take your business to the next level. But hiring and managing remote freelancers is quite a bit different than hiring and managing someone that will work in the next cubicle. We want you to reap all of the benefits a remote freelancer can bring to your business without all the headaches.
The first step is to find the right candidates. The interview is your opportunity to make sure you’ve found the best candidate to hire.
In order to master the interview with a remote freelancer, you’ll likely have to tweak your interviewing style a bit. But if you spend some time analyzing the type of freelancer that is the perfect match for your company and the specific position you need to fill, and then validate those qualities in your interview, you’ll ensure that you are hiring the ideal remote freelancer for your business!
These must-ask freelancer interview questions can immediately eliminate freelancers that aren’t right for your project. They will also confirm if the freelancer is the perfect match for both the project itself and the business as a whole.
Sometimes, a freelancer might realize on their own at some point during the interview that they are not a good fit, and let you know. This is actually a good thing since it goes a long way towards saving everyone’s time. If that happens, ask them their reasons. Then thank them for their time and honesty and move on to the next candidate armed with this additional information.
Always be ready to ask “why?” and “can you expand on that?” When you dig deeper into one point, it’s harder and harder for the freelancer to give rote, ready-to-please answers. You are ideally looking for the best fit, and you need more specific responses to determine who that is.
If the applicant can make it through the 3 stages of the interview, there’s a strong chance that they will be a great fit for your business. If not, then take the time to find the right freelancer. At the end of the day, there is no guaranteed way to always hire a rock star. However, if you play your cards right, you have a much better chance of hiring an A-player.
With this set of freelancer interview questions in your arsenal, you should be well on your way to hiring the best fits for your needs. If you’d like to learn more about optimal hiring, be sure to check out our book, Free Up Your Business, which discusses these concepts at length.
What must-ask interview questions when interviewing a freelancer would you add to the list? Start a discussion with us on Facebook!
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, hiring a freelancer can be a big help. You’ll finally be able to hand off those time-consuming and energy-draining tasks. However, just as important as deciding whether to hire a freelancer is choosing the right one. To find out more about finding the right fit for your business needs, schedule a free meeting to go over your questions and concerns.
No minimums. Fast access to top US and international talent. Rated 5 stars on TrustPilot.Get Started