When you’re in the market for a freelancer, it’s generally pretty easy to find people who are a good match for your business, and the project you have in mind. However, picking out the truly great freelancers from the simply competent ones is another matter, and takes a lot of careful consideration. Like hiring in-house staff, the interview is one of the most important steps in screening an independent contractor. Here are a few questions that should always make your list.
Are You Able to Meet This Deadline?
This is one of the more obvious questions, and some business owners treat it as a given. However, if you have tight time constraints, you need to make sure immediately whether the freelancer in question is going to have any trouble with them. Forgetting this has been at the root of countless professional negligence claims over the years. Listen for evidence of project management experience, and ask about their approach to juggling several different projects at once. It’s also a good idea to ask directly how realistic a given timeframe is, and whether you’ll have to leave any buffers for challenges that might come up.
What Kind of Feedback Have You Received from Previous Clients?
Many freelancers, especially those who have been in the game for a long time, will have many testimonials and examples of client feedback, which they should be happy to share with you. Listen for any specifically highlighted qualities that come up in this feedback. Does the freelancer deliver a high standard of work? Do they keep in close contact with the client? How do they approach problems? It’s rare that any freelancer has a completely spotless past, but you should still make sure that you’re happy with the way issues have been addressed.
Tell Me About a Recent Project That You’ve Been Proud Of
Different freelancers, like any kind of worker, perform best in different situations. Try to figure out the elements of a given project that helped this freelancer excel, and what you as a client can do to recreate them. In particular, you should pick up on any clues about their working style; how well they can perform under pressure, work independently, and take initiative to prioritise the different tasks in a given project. Some working habits can be a godsend for certain projects, but a complete nightmare in other contexts.
Can You Take on Additional Work?
Very few freelancers are available to work on a full-time basis, and if you’re looking for flexibility, you need to discuss this early on. The freelancer you’re talking to is probably going to have other commitments to stay on top of, and you need to enter the agreement knowing your expectations are going to be met. Again, you need to be looking for evidence of their time management, confirming that they’ll be good at communicating with you and meeting the kind of deadlines you’ll set. If they don’t commit to more availability, or step around the question, you may need to keep looking.
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