Job interviews are intimidating. Showcasing your qualifications in front of a prospective client can test your confidence. That’s why there are so many online articles offering tips for answering common interview questions.
But what if you took a different approach? What if, instead of stressing over the questions your interviewer might ask, you spent your time coming up with questions for your client?
Why would you do this? For one thing, asking questions shows you’re willing to engage with your client and learn more about their business. Interviewers appreciate this since it demonstrates you’re enthusiastic about possibly working for their company.
For another, asking questions helps you decide if you want to work for this employer and how you can provide them with your best service.
This is particularly relevant to freelancers who might only be hired to work on a single project for a client. Freelancers don’t have time to gradually become familiar with a company’s policies and expectations. Instead, you’ll need to learn all this immediately — using these 12 questions every freelancer should ask a potential client during a job interview.
This is a nice question to lead with since it shows you’re prepared to help your prospective client with their needs. More importantly, it gives the client a chance to educate you about their future goals, letting you see the best ways you can help.
Listen to your clients’ expectations. Do they expect the new website you’re designing to attract a certain number of leads? How many new subscribers do they want your e-newsletter articles to bring in? Knowing their goals will help you determine if you can provide them with the type of work they want.
Also, if you can show them projects from your portfolio where you helped other clients achieve similar goals, that’ll make you look even better.
At first, the answer to this question seems obvious. After all, if the interviewer is looking to hire a writer to contribute to their blog, isn’t your role pretty much spelled out?
Well, maybe. However, it’s possible your prospective clients expect additional services from you, like editing or image sourcing. Learning all the services you’re expected to deliver will greatly impact the interview when it comes time to discuss compensation.
Once you learn what your client’s goals are, you may also be in a position to offer them additional services to fulfill their project needs. Maybe they only wanted to hire someone to write their Twitter posts, but if you learn they actually need someone to manage their entire social media marketing campaign, you could be in an excellent position to reveal your background in marketing management and negotiate a more lucrative contract.
Some freelancers ghostwrite projects for their clients and receive no credit. Others get a byline and published clips. You’ll want to make sure the work you produce can further your freelancing career — or be compensated fairly if you work anonymously.
By the way, even if you ghostwrite your work, it’s possible your employer will still write testimonials for you and promote you in other ways. Find out if they’re willing to do this in your initial meetings.
Communication is vital in freelance relationships. Often, a freelancer will report to a project manager who acts as their go-between with upper management. You need to learn who you’ll be interacting with and how to contact them (especially if your project manager is not the person interviewing you!). If possible, meet your project manager early on to see how well your working styles mesh.
Once you’re hired, many companies require freelancers to go through an onboarding process. This can include signing contracts, providing billing information, filling out tax forms, and gaining access to their online platform. You’ll want to know about all the information they’ll need from you and how much time onboarding will take.
It's also possible you may have to sign some non-disclosure agreements to make sure you don’t disclose confidential information. All of these details need to be shared with you early on.
All freelancers should have a standard contract that protects the interests of both themselves and their clients. Many employers will also provide their own freelance worker contract that you should look over before signing.
Make sure all the important details are covered, including compensation, deadlines, renegotiation dates, and project ownership.
Freelancers tend to work with multiple clients. However, it’s possible a client will want an exclusive deal with you that prevents you from working with potential competitors.
Sometimes, this means you can still work for companies in different industries than your client — but you should make sure your current and future client list doesn’t cause any problems with this employer.
Plus, if you are going to be tied into an exclusive agreement, make sure the retainer you receive from your client is generous enough!
If you’re going to be working with a client on an ongoing basis, you’ll need to know how much of a time commitment your employer expects from you. Even if you’re only completing a single project for this client, you’ll want to know the timeline for the assignment and its deadline to make sure it fits within your schedule.
Learning how the chain of command works is very important when submitting freelance work. Even after your project manager okays your assignment, it may still receive requests for further edits or revisions from an editor or manager. Make sure you’re aware of how this process works and who you need to please.
This is an excellent question to ask when it comes time to negotiate compensation. Learning what your prospective employer’s budget is will help you calculate your own pay rate (and increase it if you discover they have deeper pockets than you thought).
If the interviewer flips the question around and asks you to quote your pay rate, offer a price range of your own. Their reaction will let you see how well your quote and their budget align, helping you negotiate acceptable compensation.
Once you know how much you’ll be paid, you’ll need to know how you’ll be paid. Some companies pay by PayPal or Stripe, others are open to direct deposit, and a few employers still pay by paper check. Learning the payment options you have will help you realize the type of information you’ll need to disclose (for instance, direct deposit requires sharing your banking information and routing numbers).
By the way, it’s good to establish at this point if your employer will be picking up any fees associated with certain payment methods, like PayPal.
Ending with an open-ended question allows the interviewer to let you know about any other pertinent information you haven’t covered yet. Also, since you’ve been keeping the discussion focused on business-related questions, there’s a much better chance that this question will provide you with more important information that will help you determine if you and this client are a good fit.
Job interviews may be stressful, but they can also be illuminating. By taking the initiative to ask the interviewer your questions, you’ll not only make a better impression, you’ll also come away with greater knowledge of the freelance work you’ll be doing. This will help both you and your client build a better working relationship moving forward.
Understanding your responsibilities as a freelancer is essential when forming well-informed questions for clients. Discover how Hectic Academy’s freelance courses help you master the freelance mindset and build a solid foundation for your business.