Employees could go years without being interviewed once they land a job. Freelancers, on the other hand, face interviews almost as frequently as a potential client considers them for a project. While a freelance job interview isn’t all that different from a typical full-time position interview, interviewing for a contract calls for a slightly different approach.
Here are a few interview tips to help you land that next gig.
Many freelancers have a broad range of skills. Freelance writers also do a little bit of graphic design, photographers are also videographers and editors, and web designers also know front-end programming.
When interviewing, however, it’s important to keep your answers about your skills and experience specific to the job you’re applying for. For instance, if the project is for web content writing, you need to concentrate on discussing the depth of your experience on writing in general, knowledge of search engine optimization, and perhaps repurposing content. There’s probably little need to discuss how you managed an app’s development at length.
Ensure that you read and understand the project brief or job posting before the interview so you can tailor your answers to fit the project requirements. Detailing all of your skills (especially those unrelated to the job you’re applying for) may even put you in danger of getting shortchanged, as a client might get the sense that you are willing to do a lot of extra work on top of the job’s current scope.
Research the company and the industry it’s in. You should definitely start with their website, learn about the company history, culture, and recent successes. If they have a blog or social media pages, those are good places to check out, too.
If they ask what you know about them, discuss what you’ve learned. If not, it should be good to incorporate your learnings into an answer. For example, while you’re talking about your work process, you could add, “Also, I read about your company’s work-life balance policy. I really believe that having that balance dramatically improves my own productivity at work, so I can really see myself thriving in a company that encourages its employees to take much-needed breaks.”
Provide a printed copy of your resume and creative portfolio, or at least a few of your sample works, if applicable. If printouts are not possible, perhaps bring a tablet or your laptop so the potential client can see your work on the spot. At the same time, you’ll also have the opportunity to discuss your projects in person.
You should also have the contact information of your references ready to share. These could be past clients or a former supervisor or colleague who you’ve worked with. Be careful about sharing contact information of current clients, though, as you don’t want your existing customers to think that you are not fully invested in them.
Finally, it’s ideal to have business cards on hand to give your prospect your contact information while also adding to your image as a freelance professional.
Freelancers can expect that most interview questions will be geared towards results. This is because contract workers, compared to regular employees, are hired to solve a specific problem or work on a particular project with set goals.
With that, here are a few commonly-asked questions during freelance job interviews and how to best answer them.
Will you work on my project full time? Unless the project and the pay is worth doing full time, you should not feel obliged to promise full-time availability to a client. The answer to this question should address a prospect’s real concerns, though, which is likely your availability and ability to deliver. You can say answer this question with something like, “I run three projects at most at a time and work hard to turn in deliverables before my deadlines. I am available via phone call, email, and Skype during regular business hours.”
How much do you charge? You may give them a general idea of your rate, but it’s most ideal to quote a project by the job. If you don’t know enough about the project to give a quote, make sure you get all the specifics first, then get a quote in writing in the form of a proposal or project contract. During the interview, you can say, “I’d love to discuss the project requirements with you and provide a customized quote via email.”
How long have you been doing X? If you’ve been in the freelance business long (say, more than five years), then there’s a level of credibility that your experience can provide. However, if you’re just starting out, you might feel intimidated to answer this. Again, the key is to address what the client is really asking — which is how qualified you are. You can answer this by saying, “I have over five years of graphic design experience, one with an agency and another as a self-employed graphic designer. The rest I did several design projects for clients and interned as a graphic designer at XYZ company while completing my bachelor’s degree.”
Do you work from home? Traditional workers find it hard to envision how freelancers can be productive at home. Reassure them by saying, “I have set up a home office dedicated to my freelance photography business. I find that I get more work done at home than in an office or co-working space.”
What is your biggest weakness? A classic in any job interview, freelance or otherwise. The best way to answer this question is to discuss a weakness and then talk about how you address that weakness. For example, you could say you don’t have a very good memory so you notoriously take notes, set up reminders, and create calendar events to make sure you don’t miss anything.
Any job interview can be nerve-wracking, but with sufficient preparation, you can definitely demonstrate that you are the best person to do the job. Follow these tips so you can show your potential client that you are qualified, diligent, and dependable.
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