How to Prepare for a Freelance Interview

Posted on May 15, 2020
Last updated on Jun 28, 2020
5 minute read

Have you been invited to interview for a new freelance role? Awesome!

But now, the nerves begin to kick in…

Landing a new freelance job can be incredibly rewarding. As a freelancer you get to earn more money doing what you love, and when you find a client that you just click with, it can make your working life an absolute pleasure.

But first, you have to wow your way through the interview.

And interviewing doesn’t come easily to everyone. I’ve had many freelance jobs over the years and that’s partly because I do well in interviews. It’s a very natural environment for me, and in this article I’m going to share with you my top freelance interview tips to help you land that role of your dreams! 🤩

21 Interview Tips for New Freelancers

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Feel completely ready to smash your next freelance interview with these 21 tips for getting prepared.

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#1 Have a pitch

I know, I know: nobody likes to sell.

But pitching doesn’t have to be a sales pitch. In fact, in my very humble opinion it shouldn’t be a sales pitch, especially in a freelance interview.

Instead, think of a pitch as a way of telling somebody what you’re all about, quickly.

In an interview it can be easy to lose your train of thought and start waffling. You’ll go off-topic and the interviewers will tune out. Avoid this.

By preparing an interview pitch you can focus on the important points and avoid the filler. Let’s take a couple of examples, when asked “tell me about yourself”…

“I started building websites in the early 2000s and… umm.. I got a few freelance clients at the time, one of them was my friend’s dad who ran a computer shop… …. but before that I made a website to showcase my 3D graphics artwork.. erm. and then five years later I went to uni to study web design and then I got a job doing mailshots for a stationery company but it was a bit boring and then…”

That was a brief rundown of my personal history but I only managed to get up to 2007 before even I was falling asleep. It was all over the place and full of filler words (“umm”, “erm”). A pitch enables you to be succinct and interesting. Here’s a better example:

“I started out building websites for fun in the early 2000s. One of my first sites was for a band, which was a great experience because I was really into the local music scene. I studied web design at uni and have freelanced for a number of agencies over the past 10 years, during which time I’ve learned a lot about both the tech and commercial side of website development. What drew me to this role was…”

Obviously you would tailor your pitch to the people and opportunity in front of you, but in the second example I skipped over most of my history, demonstrated my value (commercial awareness) and then brought it right back to the role in question.

Meme from Office Space If you could stop waffling... that'd be great

When you prepare for a freelance interview, take the time to rehearse a pitch to quickly tell the interviewers about yourself without blabbing on.

Or, be super honest like Emma Bostian

#2 Prepare for common interview questions

How do you answer “why should we hire you?”

Do you recoil when asked what “strengths” make you stand out above other freelancers?

These questions shouldn’t faze you! 📣

In my experience, these cliched questions rarely get asked, but when they do, you’d better be prepared to answer them.

Why should they hire you?

It might sound like a dumb question. I mean, you’ve gotten this far, right?

You might be tempted to start thinking about how other’s would respond. After all, they’re asking why they should hire you over other freelancers.

But the trick is to forget about everyone else. Focus on yourself. When you prepare for the interview, don’t try to sound unique: you’re already unique. Your history is unlike anybody else’s, so focus down on what makes you the right person for the job, and confidently state why they should hire you. Draw on your past experiences and try to apply them to the job description. Be personable. Remember they’re hiring a human, not a machine (yet).

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Most people don’t give this much thought outside of an interview setting. Personally I feel that self-reflection from time to time is important in keeping yourself grounded, as well as for personal growth reasons.

My strengths: I’m a good communicator, I’m not afraid to take the lead on a project and I’m very punctual. My weaknesses? Well I’m… WAIT. Make sure you don’t do all that “false-positive” BS like “well… I’m a workaholic… lol” (as it happens, I am, but it sounds profoundly lame).

In your freelance interview prep be sure to consider your strengths, and your weaknesses, and have an answer ready should this question arise.

Why are you interested in freelancing?

I was asked this once. It took me by surprise. I had to think on my feet and came out with something about freedom and flexibility and lifestyle.

This is another freelance interview question that is worth preparing for. What drives you to be a freelancer? There’s no shame in making it about yourself (higher earning potential, better hours etc) but if you can reframe it in such a way that will appeal to the interviewer it could be more impactful.

Think about it: imagine if you asked this question to a freelancer. It would be more impressive if they tailored their answer to situation and the role they have applied for. For example:

“I’m passionate about web development, especially Javascript and front-end development. I love React and getting to work on web applications like yours, which I’ve personally used a few times…”

Can you see how you’ve answered the question “why are you interested in freelancing?” but framed it in such a way to make it more relevant to the interviewer? Powerful techniques like this will make you stand out in interviews!

Stock questions like these , though cliche, can come up. If they do, don’t let them sucker punch you.

#3 Have questions ready

“So… do you have any questions for us?”

“… uhm.. no..” 😴

Seriously?

You’re sitting in front of three people who’ve just interviewed you for an hour and you’ve not got anything to ask? Don’t be that interviewee.

Top tip: even if you don’t have any questions, have questions.

Why? Because it shows that you’re interested. It can also help make you more memorable, especially if you ask a good question! Here are some good questions to ask an interviewer, even if you don’t have any questions:

These questions demonstrate a blend of wanting to learn more about the company, and the people sitting in front of you, and give the impression that you’re a self-starter — somebody who could be trusted to hit the ground running. If you can turn the interview into more of a conversation, you will build stronger rapport with the interviewers and that will improve your chances of getting the freelance job.

Acing freelance interviews is all about preparation

There is a lot to be said about thinking on your feet. But for many people, being adept at answering quick-fire questions and building rapport takes years of experience.

I have been in the hiring seat a few times, and you can just tell who has bothered to prepare for interview. They seem more invested in the process and ultimately, come across like they want it more.

If you’re looking for longer-term freelance roles that involve an interview process, do yourself a favour and take the time to prepare. You thank yourself for it later.