What questions to ask freelancers before hiring them

Before you dive head first into hiring the first freelancer you happen upon, you should probably stop and ask them some questions first. Sure, their portfolio looks great and they’ve got glowing testimonials from previous clients. But, are they definitely right for YOUR project?

You might not get to meet your freelancer face to face as a lot of freelancing is done remotely in this growing freelance economy. But, this shouldn’t be a barrier to conducting a quick preliminary interview. Skype, Slack, phone or even email your freelancer to ask them a few introductory questions, and scope out whether they’re right for you.

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How and where they work:

What you should find out – Does their way of working fit with yours? Not every freelancer works in the same way.

Where are you located?

If your freelancer is remote, find out what time zone they’re in. Will your project suffer from working with someone who’s always asleep when you’re in the office? If they’re overseas, will language be an issue?

Check what time zone they're in.
Check what time zone they’re in.

What hours do your work?

The great thing about being a freelancer is the freedom. Many freelancers don’t adhere to a 9-5 schedule. You might find they’re night owls, working away into the wee hours. Or start work early, finishing their working day in the mid afternoon. They may work 3 days a week or even 7.

 

How will you manage the project remotely?

Ask your freelancer how they intend to manage your project without being in the office with you. You’ll get a good idea of how they’ve dealt with previous remote projects.

 

What internet speed do they use?

An oft overlooked aspect of remote working, but a crucIal one. We privileged folks in the West sometimes forget that not everyone has super fast internet connectivity like we do. When you’re trying to manage a project, there’s nothing worse than a choppy video conference, or a final project file that takes hours to upload. If your freelancer isn’t sure, get them to test it on one of the many free tools available.

Pricing and payment:

Every freelancer has different needs and requirements when it comes to pricing and payment.

What's their preferred payment method?
What’s their preferred payment method?

What’s their pricing structure?

Will your freelancer charge an hourly rate or a per project fee for your project?

What’s included in the cost?

If your project includes additional extras, find out if they’re covered in the quote. For example, stock photography, hosting, printing etc. You should also find out if the price you’re quoted includes revisions or drafts.

What about revisions?

If revisions/amends/changes aren’t included in the cost, how are they charged? How many rounds of revisions will the freelancer do?

How do they like to be paid?

Find out what payment method your freelancer prefers.

Are they available?

Do they actually have the time to take on your project right now? Freelancers often have several projects on the go at once. Ask them if they’re also working on projects for other clients, and you’ll get an idea of their current workload.

 

The project:

Ask your freelancer some questions that are specifically about your project and how they’ll complete it.

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What skills do they have that meet your project requirements?

By asking this, you’ll see whether they have a really good understanding of your project and what’s required of them. They should demonstrate a solid grasp of your project’s needs and any issues they could encounter

Can they meet the deadline?

Being available doesn’t always mean they’ll be able to meet your deadline. Freelancers often juggle several projects at once so check if they’ll be able to complete the work on time.

What’s your process like?

Ask them about how they actually go about completing work. You’ll learn

 

Work History and experience:

Get to know a little bit about your freelancer’s work history and find out if they have the right experience for your project.

Look through examples of your freelancer's previous work.
Look through examples of your freelancer’s previous work.

How long have you been freelancing?

Find out how much experience your freelancer has. Are they a junior or a senior? Were they full-time freelancing for this length of time?

What kind of projects do you usually work on?

Find out where their specialism lies. If they say they usually work on projects that are totally different to yours, they might not have the specialism needed to do a great job.

Can I see examples of your previous work?

It’s kind of a given that all freelancers will be able to show you examples of their previous work in a portfolio. It’d be pretty weird to come across a freelancer who has no portfolio. Even someone who’s just starting out can show projects from college or university in their portfolio. Look at the type of projects they’ve completed and the quality. Can you see examples of similar projects to yours?

What tools do you use?

You should hear your freelancer list tools that are professional, industry standard and suitable for your project.

 What was the last project you worked on that you were proud of?

You’ll hear about the kind of projects that this person really enjoys and what they excel at. Will they be as enthusiastic about your project?

What feedback did you receive from your previous clients?

A good chance to hear comments from previous clients. Look out for strengths and weaknesses. Do they deliver quality? Are they good at communications? Were any problems highlighted?

Has a client ever ended a relationship with you?

A chance to find out whether there were any serious problems in the freelancer’s work history. Of course, a client may end a relationship for an entirely neutral reason too.

 

Legal stuff:

Draw up a contract.
Draw up a contract.

Contract:

It’s often a good idea to draw up a contract which outlines the details, requirements and scope of your project for both parties to sign. Our article on constructing a contract will help you with this process.

Who will own the work?

As part of your contract, you should also discuss who will own the work – during the project and once the work has been handed over. Our article on intellectual property goes into this discussion in more detail.

 

Misc:

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Some closing questions you might want to ask your freelancer. You might also have industry specific questions you need to ask.

Do you have any questions about the project?

Give your freelancer the chance to ask any questions they might have about your project. You’ll get an indication about how confident they are, and how well they understand your project or company.

What are your other interests outside of work?

Give your freelancer a chance to talk about themselves and you’ll get a good idea of their character and personality. You’ll be able to do better work together if you forge a good working relationship.

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Vicky
After studying English Literature at university, Vicky decided she didn’t want to be either a teacher or whoever it is that writes those interminable mash-up novels about Jane Austen and pirates, so sensibly moved into graphic design. She worked freelance for some time on various projects before starting at Twine and giving the site its unique, colourful look. Despite having studied in Manchester and spent some years in Cheshire, she’s originally from Cumbria and stubbornly refuses to pick up a Mancunian accent. A keen hiker, Vicky also shows her geographic preferences by preferring the Cumbrian landscape to anything more local.

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Vicky

Vicky

After studying English Literature at university, Vicky decided she didn’t want to be either a teacher or whoever it is that writes those interminable mash-up novels about Jane Austen and pirates, so sensibly moved into graphic design.

She worked freelance for some time on various projects before starting at Twine and giving the site its unique, colourful look.

Despite having studied in Manchester and spent some years in Cheshire, she’s originally from Cumbria and stubbornly refuses to pick up a Mancunian accent. A keen hiker, Vicky also shows her geographic preferences by preferring the Cumbrian landscape to anything more local.