When you’re looking for a new freelancer, it’s often due to an emergency scenario: A full-timer just quit without notice. Your favorite contractor isn’t available for the next six months. Or a surprise project just dropped from the sky and there’s no one to staff it.
In these urgent situations, we tend to grab the first viable freelancer we can find. But it can backfire—big time—if you skip over one of the most important moments in the freelance lifecycle: the freelance interview.
We tend to gloss over formal interviews when it comes to freelancers. We have all sorts of excuses:
- “There isn’t time.”
- “They sounded fine in their intro email.”
- “Their website looks really professional.”
- “They won’t be here that long.”
- “I need someone now, and I don’t care who.”
But—you should ALWAYS hold a formal interview with a freelancer.
It doesn’t have to be on-site, and it doesn’t have to be exhaustive. There are simply too many important questions to ask in advance if you want to have a positive working relationship with your freelancer.
A freelancer requires an entirely different set of questions than the ones you’d ask a full-time candidate. Here are eight core interview questions that need to be asked of any potential freelancer.
1. What kind of freelance situation are you interested in?
Follow-up questions: Full time, part time or project-based? On-site or remote? Approximately how many hours per day, week or month?
2. How do you like to interact with your freelance clients?
Follow-up questions: Do you like to be folded into the team, or communicate only through one direct contact? Do you prefer email communication, phone calls, video chats, or in-person meetings?
3. How do you prefer to deal with money?
Follow-up questions: Is your rate hourly or do you require a project fee? Do you do retainer arrangements? Do you invoice 50% up front and 50% at the end of a project? Or do you invoice at the end of every month? Do you like receiving your payments via direct deposit, checks, Paypal, or something else?
4. Do you prefer a one-off project or are you looking for a long-term client relationship?
Follow-up questions: If this experience works out, would you be interested in working together on a continuing basis? What is your availability for ongoing freelance work? Are you a dedicated freelancer, or are you looking for an opportunity to commit to one company on a full-time employee basis?
5. What kinds of projects are you interested in and available for?
Follow-up questions: What’s your favorite kind of work to do? What kind of projects do you want to do more of? What excites you? What’s your dream project?
6. On the flip side—what projects won’t you do?
Follow-up questions: Are there any types of projects you dislike? Are there any software platforms, programs or technology that you don’t want to work with? Do you avoid projects that require a higher or lower skill level? What won’t you do?
7. How do you schedule yourself?
Follow-up questions: What can we expect from you in terms of general availability? Are you an early bird or a night owl? What is your general turnaround time for certain types of projects? When do you usually respond to emails or return phone calls? What’s your workload at the moment?
8. What else can we expect while working with you?
Follow-up questions: What are you like to work with? How can we make the process better for you? What would make us a fantastic client in your eyes?
Find fabulous freelance talent—fast—on the Mediabistro job board.