You want to find a talented writer, graphic designer or photographer for your next project but you're not quite sure how to conduct an interview with a freelancer. 

While there’s lots of advice available online to help candidates perform well during interviews, I’ve rarely come across any pieces with tips and tricks that benefit interviewers. 

Like freelancers, interviewers can under prepare and hence underperform during interviews. At what cost, you ask? Well, letting talented freelancers pass them by, making poor hiring decisions and wasting lots of time.

At present, freelance services are in higher demand than ever before due to the pandemic. Companies who’ve had to make full time employees redundant are using freelancers to fill skill gaps, others are sourcing freelancers to help them pivot their businesses online. The list goes on. Therefore, as a business owner, you’re currently competing with other businesses to attract the best freelance talent out there. 

So, how do you perform well when giving an interview? How do you impress freelancers you’d like to work with?

Here’s a few interview tips:


1. Don’t call it an interview - call it a meeting

Why? It makes for a more informal, relaxed chat, which generally puts you and the freelancer at ease from the get go. And let’s be honest, most of us perform better in interviews when we're relaxed, not when we’re tense and nervous.


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2. Be able to reel off your mission statement in a sentence

The freelancer is not the only one ‘selling’ themselves. Have a mission statement that you can reel off in a sentence. 

You want to keep your interviewee engaged at all times when you're telling them about your company. If your mission statement is really long, you’re likely to lose their attention fairly quickly. Freelancers want to work for people who seem organised and efficient, so make sure you deliver information about your company in a way that leaves them with a good impression. 

Even if your passion for your company is infectious, an under confident, long winded explanation won’t inspire.


3. If you’re interviewing for a creative position, ask to see their portfolio. 

When we ran a survey with over 200 start-ups asking them what their number one consideration was when hiring a freelancer, the answer was their portfolio.

Until you see samples of a freelancer's work you won’t be able to properly gage their ability, experience and suitability to work with your company. It’s also important that their aesthetic matches your brand.


4. Ask them to talk about 1 or 2 of their projects so you can understand their process

So you've had a good look at a freelancers portfolio and you're impressed. Now it’s time to understand their process to get an idea of how they work (how long it usually takes them to produce work, how well they work with client teams, how they take client feedback etc.). 


5. Ask about their availability

Freelancers have other clients, which will impact their availability.

You’ll need to supply information about the task at hand so that they can determine how much time it will take them to complete said task. Only then will they be able to let you know the specific days and times they can dedicate to your business. 


6. Don’t let the meeting drag on too long 

If you’re prepared, the meeting shouldn’t take longer than 20 minutes. You’re busy. Freelancers charge for their time, so keep it short.  

If you’re hiring a freelancer for a consultancy position don’t ask them for specific advice during the meeting. They’re selling their expertise and the meeting should be about whether or not they’re suitable for your project. Don't use the interview as a free consultation. 


7. Be the one to bring up rates

Rates only become an awkward talking point when they’re not talked about. Highlight your proposed rate early on in a meeting. That way a freelancer has time to consider the rate and raise any queries or concerns they have about it during the meeting. 

Although it’s improved in recent years, freelancers have a history of being paid poorly for work or not being paid at all. Show freelancers the respect they deserve by proposing a fair rate, early on in your meeting so that they know you value their work and experience and are willing to pay them accordingly. 


Fail to prepare, prepare to fail. This old adage should be kept in mind if you plan on giving an interview any time soon.

Freelance services are in demand now more than ever, which means that you’ll have to work harder and more strategically to convince the best freelance talent to work for your business.

Implementing the interview tips in this article is a good place to start.


Like this article? Now that you know how to conduct an interview with a freelancer check out 3 Mistakes Startups Make on Zoom Interviews and Why Contracts Are King When Working With Freelancers