Acing the freelance interview: a 2 way street

5 Mins read
  • To find out if the client and their project align with your own goals as a freelancer, you should ask questions regarding:
  • 1. what are the client's work processes for this project;
  • 2. revision processes for tasks;
  • 3. typical response time in communication;
  • 4. is the client open to suggestions;
  • 5. delays in payments, etc.

So, you finally got that freelance interview invitation after applying on half a dozen platforms and a lot of different jobs. It’s a big step, but you’re still away from the finish line. Be it the first freelance interview or the thousandth, there are some unchanging rules you definitely need to follow. The freelance interview is not that different from a classic job interview. That being said, freelancers tend to ignore or neglect some of the most important aspects to ace their interviews.

Mutual assessment of the client and the freelancer
Mutual assessment of the client and the freelancer

Preparing your freelance interview: understanding the stakes

We already talked about this point in previous articles: freelancers aren’t typical employees. The traditional subordination between employer and employee is not quite the same between clients and freelancers. In the same manner, the freelance job interview is different from the classic one.

In the classic job interview scenario, the job seeker is already convinced that he wants to work with that particular company or employer. They already have (almost) all of the relevant information regarding the company’s activities, goals and careers within the company. However, when it comes to freelancers, they often only know the information regarding the tasks for which they are being recruited.

Therefore, the freelance interview should serve both parties. As much as you need to sell yourself as the best fit for the job; you should also aim to evaluate your client in order to determine whether they are the right fit for you. In other words, this interview should be a two-way street. It’s a crucial step that must be approached with the right mindset. After all, not having the same goals, discipline or expectations from the job can hurt you a lot as a freelancer.

Finding the right fit through the freelance interview
Finding the right fit through the freelance interview

How to approach the client interview as a freelancer?

For the client, the interview serves one purpose: finding the best worker for the job at hand. A variety of criteria can tip the balance: cost, previous work experience of the freelancer, mastery of the job or even compatibility. That’s the reason why freelancers try to appear as the perfect employee during client interviews.

As a freelancer, you need to be able to answer all the questions you will be asked. However, the most important aspect has to do with proving your mastery of the work. You can achieve this results by asking relevant questions or simply showing previous similar projects from your portfolio.

Your questions should be tailored to provide you with a better understanding of the project and its scope, as well as helping the client better formulate his own goals. As a content writer, you can ask about the editorial line or the editorial calendar. As a developer, your questions can be about data management, user interface or any other aspect of the job that will further your understanding.

In a perfect case scenario, by the time you leave the interview, you should have convinced the client of your expertise, your knowledge of the project, its goals and even the setbacks you may run into. In other words, ask questions and request clarification. It’s not enough to simply acquiesce to the client’s needs and try to fit an imaginary mold. It may be true that some clients actually look for employees when recruiting freelancers. But it’s in both your best interests, to present yourself as a partner.

Present yourself as a partner
Present yourself as a partner

How to assess your futur clients during the freelance interview?

Assuming the mindset of the “freelance consultant” can help understand how important assessing your future clients really is. Too often, independent workers are more focused on seizing each and every opportunity that arises. In particular when they’re just starting out and they don’t have sufficient financial stability in order to reclaim their own agency.

That being said, freelancers that have a minimum of financial freedom should absolutely make sure that the person they’re talking to can actually become a good client. Hereafter, you will find some of the questions you can expect, as well as ask yourself during a freelance interview in order to determine your client’s profile.

Harnessing the freelance interview
Harnessing the freelance interview

Is the client open to suggestions?

Freelancers that know a lot more than their clients about a job is a common occurrence. Having a client that’s open to suggestions (even when they don’t adhere to them), is a must in order to establish a healthy working relationship. A client that doesn’t welcome suggestions should be a deal-breaker.

Are the project goals and monitoring built on actual data?

You will definitely get to know clients that have an unshakable faith in their project. They are blessed with an almost contagious passion. The issue with said clients, is that their whole project is built on intuition or a feeling. When the passion is not reinforced with actual data, it’s a recipe for disaster. For example, a client that wants to have content written for a niche that’s already bloated.

What are the work processes for this project?

How are new tasks given? How do team members communicate? What are the criteria in order to approve a task and who is in charge of approval? In other words, you need to know if there is already a pipeline in place to undertake tasks from A to Z. Will the client send instructions via private mail once in a while, or are they updated in a shared document?

Getting a better understanding of the client and their project
Getting a better understanding of the client and their project

What are the review processes?

Similar to the previous question, but deserves its own subtitle. This has to do with tasks that require revisions. What are the processes in place to handle revisions? Most freelancers already had to deal with clients that ask for revisions of a text or code because they aren’t satisfied. The issue is that they can’t seem to explain what it is they aren’t satisfied with…

What is your clients response time?

Are they always available online? Or maybe they only answer once in a while? Can a task be approved within a few days of being delivered or will you have to wait more than a week? Having this information will allow you to manage your own time in accordance and know if this client is the right fit for you.

How often are payments made and what are the delays?

In the same manner, you need to know if the client will pay you as soon as each task is delivered, or if they prefer to pay weekly or monthly. Some clients may even ask for a 30 day delay before processing your invoices. You need this information to organize yourself.

Use the client interview to find the perfect clients
Use the client interview to find the perfect clients


The freelance interview should not be perceived as an unilateral approval process. As much as the client needs to see if you are the right fit, you also need to assess your client. The goal is to determine whether the client, their projects and your own career goals as a freelancer align. In other words, you need to know if your collaboration can be successful. In order to ascertain this point, here are some questions you can ask:

  1. what are the client’s work processes for this project;
  2. revision processes for tasks;
  3. typical response time in communication;
  4. is the client open to suggestions;
  5. delays in payments, etc.

The illustrations on this article were provided by unDraw

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