How is a freelance job interview different from a regular job interview ? Since neither party is committing to a long-term relationship, they both bring different expectations to the table. That kind of freedom comes with many benefits for both workers and employers, but it also changes the hiring process a bit, including the interview questions you can expect to hear from a hiring manager.
What your customer wants to know
When interviewing freelancers, clients don’t need to worry about how you’ll fit into the corporate culture or where you want to be in five years. Depending on the job, it may not even matter if you’re a morning person or a night person or what your typical workweek looks like .
Instead, expect results-oriented questions. That’s because, even more than regular employees, contract workers are there to solve a specific problem. The person who hires you will have to show that he is doing it, probably in a much shorter period of time than with a full-time worker. Although it is cheaper and less risky than an employee receiving benefits, it is also easier to assess because its goals are specific and limited. Also, since the usual termination process does not apply , it is also easier for the client to fire you.
However, just like with a regular job interview, the best thing to do is to focus your preparations on the interview questions you are likely to receive. For freelancers, this means proving that you’re worth the money and can get things done.
Here are some of the questions you may be asked during the interview process:
1. Can you show me examples of similar work?
Tips to answer: when you are self-employed, your work is your main reference. It is important to have a sample portfolio to show potential clients. In the old days, this meant a physical folder full of your best work. Now, digital portfolios make it easy to email links to potential clients or show off your work in an interview.
Regardless of the format, you’ll want to be able to show a few samples and demonstrate how you met the client’s vision in each case. Explain what the client was looking for, what your creative process was like, and how you ultimately arrived at the finished product. And try to pick samples that are similar to what they are looking to hire you for.
You’ll get bonus points if you can attach a dollar sign to that demo explaining how you earned or saved money
2. How is your work process?
Tips for answering: With this question, the interviewer tries to get an idea of what it will be like to work with you. Will you be open to feedback on your work? How much will you allow for revisions? Will you work collaboratively or mostly on your own? All these questions hide behind the main one.
Ultimately, your prospect wants to be sure that they will receive constructive criticism and participate in a review process. So be sure to mention that you are flexible, collaborative, and open to ideas. Maybe share some examples of how your process has been with other clients.
3. Tell me about a time when you had trouble meeting a deadline.
Tips for answering: The truth is that everyone, from school children to executives, hates group projects. Still, as long as individual contributors are valuable, and until we can find a better way to synthesize independent thinking into a large-scale output, we’ll probably stick with them. That means we all depend on each other to meet deadlines and keep projects on track.
When you answer, remember that the interviewer has reason to be even more anxious for a freelancer to meet deadlines, because they’re not as available as an employee if they drop the ball. His goal here is to provide concrete examples of his dedication to getting things done, no matter how difficult. Be as specific as possible.
4. How much do you charge?
Tips for answering: This is a case where you want to let them do the talking first. Go in with a general idea of your freelance rates , but don’t commit to a price from the start. You won’t know how much to charge, or even whether to bill by the hour or by the project, until you have a lot more information about the work required.
Don’t be fooled into naming a number at first, only to find out later that the client expects three meetings a week and doesn’t want to pay for them. Or that each stage of the project involves three approvals and two of them belong to other remote workers who are rarely available. Get all the details before you commit to a price, and then get it in writing in the form of a contract or statement of work.
If you bill the client by the project rather than by the hour, make sure your contract is very clear about the specific deliverables and the terms they are paying for. This allows you to invoice other deliverables separately if requested by the customer.
5. What is your availability?
Tips for Answering: One of the distinctions between an employee and a contractor, according to the IRS, is that businesses cannot specify a contractor’s hours of work. Setting deadlines is acceptable (eg, “Project will be completed by November 1”), but don’t block hours of your time on an ongoing basis (eg, “Freelancer will be available eight hours a day, five days a week, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., until otherwise instructed by ABC Company”).
Still, things must be done when necessary. This is your chance to express enthusiasm, reassure the client of his commitment and punctuality while setting some boundaries. Many clients give the impression that they want the commitment of a full-time employee from their contractors , without extending it in the form of job security. This does not mean that they are trying to trick you; they may be used to that model from working with regular employees.
You can convey your passion and dependability without promising to be available for emergencies at 10 pm or all the regular morning meetings. Most freelancers find it impractical to sleep in every morning anyway, so you can probably tell them that you’re generally available during normal business hours and have a policy of replying to emails. of customers within X period of time (24 hours or less). . If they want you at certain meetings, make sure it’s included in your contract. You are under no obligation to promise them full-time availability for a part-time job.
Prepare to succeed in the interview
If you’re ready to answer these questions, you’re well on your way to a solid freelance interview.