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Man sitting at a desk interviewing a freelancer for a job.

How to Ace A Freelancer Interview

Last updated: June 20, 2019
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One downside of being a freelancer is that you’re responsible for winning your own jobs. No boss or manager is sending you assignments every week.

While it’s different in every industry, the process of getting freelance jobs looks mostly the same: You submit a proposal along with some work samples and the company hires you if they think you’re a good fit.

Typically, the hiring process also involves an interview. This allows the hiring party to get an idea of whether or not you’re right for their project.

Generally, a freelance interview isn’t all that different from interviewing for a traditional job. Like a regular job interview, you’ll benefit from preparing ahead of time.

In this article, we’ll discuss the best ways to prepare for the freelance interview process. Hopefully, these tips will help you land some contracts and start making money on your own time!

New to freelancing? Here are 6 Entry-Level Work-From-Home Jobs You Can Get Right Now.


 

Tip #1: Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

Unfortunately, freelancers can get a bad rap for being flakey. There’s something about working from home in your pajamas that makes traditional 9-5ers see us as…well, lazy.

Of course, this stereotype doesn’t represent all freelancers. Most of us work very hard. But, sadly, it’s a stereotype we must all work to fight.

One of the ways to do this is to make sure that you’re prepared whenever you sit down for an interview. Being prepared will show your interviewer that you take your job seriously.

The most important thing you can do is to learn about the client before you sit down with them. Jump on their website and read about what they’re trying to do. That way, you’ll be able to articulate how you think you can add value to their company.

If you’re familiar with their mission and values, it’ll go a long way.

Typically, freelance gigs are project-based. It’s likely that the company is hiring you to handle one specific project. So, you should spend some time thinking about how you’re going to approach the task at hand.

Clients will appreciate this type of initiative, and it’ll show them that you know what you’re talking about (even if you do happen to work in your PJs).

Person on computer researching freelance interview questions

Be Ready To Answer Certain Questions

It’s impossible to predict exactly what they’ll ask during your interview. But, there are certain interview questions that pop up almost every time.

Here are a few questions to be ready for:

What was your approach to _____ project?

Assuming you’ve sent samples (more on that below), clients may be curious how you approached those projects. This will give them a better idea as to how you work and whether or not you’re a good fit.

What tools do you use to organize your workflow?

In a normal work setting, companies give their employees tools to help them stay organized. Outside of a central office, however, freelancers are responsible for organizing themselves.

Interviewers may ask you about your work style to make sure that you have your stuff in order.

Explain a past project you’ve worked on that you feel went well, and elaborate on why it was a success.

People want to understand your quality standards. What do you consider successful? How do you know when something is good?

These questions help the interviewer to get a feel for your values. They typically ask it to see if your values align with theirs.

What other projects are you working on?

Clients understand that freelancers juggle multiple gigs at the same time. They want to be sure their work won’t get overlooked.

Make sure you can explain how you prioritize tasks and get things done without any supervision.

Do you have time to take on more work?

Most clients would prefer to work with the same freelancer rather than go out and find a new one for each task. If you’re looking for work that extends beyond a single contract, let them know!

Of course, you have to be honest. If your plate is already full, then say so. It’s better to be honest than to take on jobs you can’t fulfill.


Tip #2: Get Your Story Straight

The first thing any interview starts with is, “So…tell me about yourself.” Employers want to know more about the person with whom they are speaking. They also want to know what lead you to apply for a job.

In a freelancer interview, things are no different, except this time clients are also going to be interested in how you got into freelancing.

They do this partially out of mere curiosity. But, they also want to know a little bit about what type of freelancer you are.

For example, is this something you do in your spare time? Is it your full-time gig? Whatever the case, be prepared to talk about why you got into contract work and what you like about it.

In this part of the interview, you should be as detailed and elaborate as possible. This is your opportunity to show off your work ethic and drive.

People respect when someone can make a living as an independent contractor. Most folks would be terrified to leave their 9-5 and dive into the world of freelancing. So, use your interview to talk about how you’ve managed to thrive as a gig-based worker.


Tip #3: Build Your Portfolio

Man on computer building a freelance portfolio.

When you apply for the job, clients want to see samples of your previous work. They use this to assess your skill set and make sure that you can take on the task at hand.

This applies to almost every freelancer from graphic designers and illustrators. Video editors, copywriters, and even developers need portfolios, too.

If you’ve already booked an interview, the chances are that you sent in a portfolio with your application. But you should have more samples on hand during the meeting itself.

You never know where the conversation will go. If a past job comes up that isn’t represented in your portfolio, it’ll be nice to have some files that you can send over as a reference point.

These days, most freelance interviews are conducted online, especially if you find gigs through sites like Fiverr and Upwork. So, it’s relatively easy to email over some images or text documents during the interview.

If you have an in-person interview, you might want to bring out some printed images or documents to give your interviewer. This not only gives you the opportunity to show them more work but helps you to keep yourself fresh in their memory after they leave.


Tip #4: Demonstrate Your Expertise

As a freelancer, you’re more than just a hired hand – you’re a qualified specialist. The company is looking for someone who has the skills that they need. Business owners want someone like you who can add value to their business.

It’s important to show your interviewer that you’re capable of contributing to their overall mission. You can do this by demonstrating your ability to think in a big picture way.

During the interview, for example, you should ask how the work you’re doing fits into the companies larger objectives. Based on the answer you receive, you can offer suggestions on how to approach the work in a way that produces better results.

Now, you shouldn’t do this in an arrogant way. No one wants to work with a know-it-all (no matter how skilled they are). But, you should do what you can to show that you’re a forward-thinking person with expertise in the field.

Remember: If you can show someone that you’re really good at your job, you’re not just going to get hired–you’ll also make more money. Valuable skills give you leverage to negotiate your pay rate and earn more over time.

Tip #5: Understand Your Value

When it comes to freelance pay rates, things get tricky. After all, some clients are willing to pay top dollar for good freelancers. Others might try to low-ball you to get better work for less money.

It’s up to you to decide on the amount of money you think you deserve. And, it’s up to you to figure out how low you’re willing to go if a client won’t pay your ideal rate.

If you use a freelance website like Upwork, then you should make sure to have your hourly rate updated. If you send a proposal, don’t ever send it without seriously considering what you would want to get paid.

This helps ensure there are no surprises on either end, and it will also help to make the conversation more professional.

However, once the interview begins, be ready to engage in negotiations. Spend some time thinking about a fair price for the project in question. Then, when you’re asked about rates, be confident in your proposal.

Young woman sitting on bed applying for freelance jobs.

Negotiating Freelance Rates

During your interview, you should be open about the services you charge for. This might include planning, research, and other preparatory work. You should indicate to the client that you will bill for this time.

Being able to outline project costs will help clients understand what they’re paying for. It’ll also help you to look more professional.

Typically, it’s a good idea to aim a bit higher than your normal rate because this gives you some room to work with during negotiations. If the client says you’re rate is too high, you can drop down a few bucks.

If you do lower your price, make sure you let them know that you’re giving them a discount. That way, if they refer you to their friends, their friends won’t expect the exact same price.

No matter what you do, don’t go into the interview with the idea that the client chooses the price. They may have their budget, but if it won’t pay your bills, then the job isn’t right for you.

It’s also important to be realistic about your worth. Keep in mind that if you charge a lot of money but produce poor work, it’s only going to hurt your reputation in the long run.


Conclusion

Every interview looks different. Depending on your industry and the hiring company, it can take all kinds of forms.

Some interviews are an hour-long while others are only a few minutes. Some are one-on-one phone conversations while others are a Skype call with an entire team.

Whatever the case, make sure to prepare ahead of time. If you focus on the things that we’ve discussed above, then you will increase your chances of acing the interview and winning the job.

Of course, everyone has their own strategy. What do you do to prepare for and succeed in an interview? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

For more tips, check out this article: Best Work-From-Home Jobs: How to Land Your Next Remote Gig.

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