Top Questions to Ask When Hiring a Freelancer

With one in three workers taking on freelance jobs, the chances of needing a freelancer to assist you—in outsourced projects for your business or for knocking out your personal to-do list—are strong. But if you’re new to hiring freelancers, you might not know where to start or the right questions to ask to separate the perfect fit from the pool of talent.

So whether you’re hiring on Moonlighting or from your local referral network, consider asking these 10 questions before hiring your next freelancer.

1. How long have you been working in your industry?

To gauge expertise, ask about similar projects they’ve worked on and have them explain their approach. Do a little research beforehand to ask their opinion on various industry-specific techniques.

Follow up by asking how long they have been freelancing.

The more experienced someone has at freelancing, the more likely they are to have already developed effective and efficient workflows. This can ultimately save you time and money and be beneficial if you’re still figuring out how to work with freelancers. However, you shouldn’t discount new freelancers, as they can be equally or sometimes more equipped for the job at hand and managing their own work.

2. Do you have the skills and tools needed for this project?

Their response should indicate a firm understanding of your project requirements and any issues they may encounter based on your job description. The best freelancers will respond thoughtfully and offer skills that you may not have directly indicated in your job post.

An experienced freelancer will also know and possess the tools required to get the job done and will not expect you to provide software, tools, or on the job training.

3. Can you provide work samples and references?

An experienced freelancer will have a strong portfolio of previous work showcasing their skills and a client list they can offer for referrals. Make sure the work they’ve done for other clients represents the skill level and attention to detail you’re looking for.

Follow up by asking about their role in and approach to these projects. Remember, it’s one thing to say you worked on a big brand campaign, thousands of people probably worked on that campaign. Ask what they did, how they specifically moved the needle. Get them to dig into their experience. Their response can tell you how they collaborated with others, addressed the client’s needs, met challenges or exceeded expectations, and will help you determine if they can really achieve the results you’re looking for.

The references they provide for these jobs can offer confirmation of project success and another perspective on whether or not the freelancer is a good fit for your project and your personal working style.

4. How do you charge clients and what is included in your price?

All freelancers charge different rates, utilize different pricing structures, and establish individual project terms. However, freelance projects will commonly fall into one of two categories: hourly or fixed-price. Either arrangement can be beneficial, but it often depends on the work being done.

For example, if you’re hiring someone to redesign your logo, it may be wise to agree on a fixed price for the job. You’ll also need to establish how many revisions are included and if revisions or changes to the project will require additional payment.

5. Are you able to meet the deadline for this project?

If you have a tight timeline, you need to know upfront whether the freelancer has the bandwidth to meet your deadline. Find out when they can start on your project and because many freelancers often manage multiple projects at the same time, you’ll need to feel confident that they will be able to balance your project against the needs of their other clients.

An experienced freelancer will also know whether you’ve allocated enough time, missed key steps, or aren’t leaving enough room for any challenges that may arise.

6. What are your working hours and communication availability?

Not all freelancers are available on a full-time basis so you’ll need to know their availability to not only work on your project, but to communicate with you.

Keep in mind that many people have successful freelance businesses in addition to other employment, so you’ll need to know what they consider normal freelance business hours when they’ll be working and available to connect and communicate with you.

Find out their time zone and identify hours that overlap so you know when you’re both available to connect live. Depending on the work being done, it is possible to maintain healthy virtual relationships when operating on completely different schedules. However, this can only be done when both you and the freelancer understand the arrangement.

7. What would your last client say about you and your work?

It’s good to have a user quantify their performance and then make them back it up. This question makes a freelancer reflect on their projects with a more thoughtful answer. Plus, you can cross-check their answer with the references they provide.

Answers to this question will not only give you an idea of whether they deliver quality work, but do they communicate effectively.

8. Have you encountered unhappy customers in the past?

You don’t want to start a relationship with the expectation that something will go wrong, but you should know what will happen if it does. Ask them to tell you about a time they had an unhappy client and what they did to fix it. Look for whether they complain and place blame solely on the client or if they focus on finding a mutually beneficial resolution or learning from the problem.

Working relationships aren’t always flawless, but you should feel comfortable that any issues were isolated or have otherwise been addressed.

9. Will you be sending me a proposal or contract for this project?

A professional freelancer will know to always send a proposal or contract for the job. This proposal will outline the project details including a brief introduction, how their experience fits your project, and an overview of how they’ll approach the work. Having all the specifics on paper will ensure that you’re both on the same page and help to keep problems of miscommunication from arising later.

10. What questions do you have for me?

You should always wrap up the conversation by asking whether or not the freelancer has any questions. Don’t be alarmed if there are none. If you’ve communicated your needs well, or if the project isn’t very complex, they may not have any follow-up questions. At the same time, if a freelancer asks a pertinent question that is interesting and shows that they have thoughtfully considered the project, that’s another sign to add this freelancer to your short list.

Final thoughts

Pair these questions with a thorough portfolio review and check of their reviews, ratings, testimonials, and referrals, and you’ll have a clear sense of how each freelancer manages their time and workload, how they communicate, and if they’re excited to work with you!

Remember to add a few of your own questions and personalize the hiring process. Be as thorough as possible and you will find the freelancer who is the perfect fit for your project.

Ready to start hiring your next freelancer? Find more than 650,000 freelancers and small businesses across the U.S. offering the skills you need for any task, job, or project…no matter how large or small. Hire a Moonlighting pro now — free!

This article was originally featured by USA Today.

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