How To Nail Your Interview
Preparing yourself to meet a potential new client or recruiter online, whether it’s a voice or video call, is an exciting time!
However, if you’re not familiar with interviews or find these calls a bit nerve wracking, it’s totally natural (especially as a brand new freelancer).
If you’re unsure of how to present yourself and what to expect, here’s some advice to nail your next interview and have a better chance of winning over your new client!
Research the company and role you’ve applied for
When writing the application that landed you the interview in the first place, you might have already done some research on the company and the role to make sure it was the right fit for you. However, since freelancers send out several applications a week, it’s easy to forget the finer details that will matter when it comes to chatting with your potential client or employer. Before your next interview, take 30-40 minutes to research the company and role so you can come prepared with all the facts and give a great first impression!
Prepare your questions
Even if you desperately need the job, remember that you’re going into this interview as equals and you want to discover if this client and/or project is the right fit for you. The best way to do this is to prepare (in your earlier research stage) a few key questions for your interviewer. You don’t want to grill them, but you also don’t want to leave the call with doubts or unanswered questions, so it’s best to think through your questions before your call so you don’t forget or get caught off-guard.
Practice your answers
Naturally, the client or interviewer is going to have several questions for you. The most obvious questions will be around your previous work experience, services, and other basic things. But you should be ready to answer any question that comes your way. For example, the client might want to know your hourly rates, or the results you’ve achieved for previous clients. He/she might ask to see examples or your work, or ask you some very difficult questions like “Why should I choose you?” or “Why are you the best fit for this role?” You might be able to bluff your way through most questions - but a good interviewer will know the difference between someone who has practiced their answers, and someone who is not as prepared.
Claire: “I once interviewed a freelancer for a job opening as a Facebook Ads Manager and when I asked him what his hourly rate was - he couldn’t give me a straight answer. It was clear that he didn’t prepare for this question and was clueless when it came to quoting a fair rate. That told me he wasn’t as experienced as he made himself sound in his application. A good freelancer always comes prepared, especially for the hard questions.”
Take the call in a quiet place with good internet
Whether you’re on a voice or video call, it can be distracting if you’re in a loud or busy environment with people around. If you can, move to a private room with good lighting and a fast internet connection, or ask friends and family to give you a little space until you’re finished. If necessary, close down the extra browsers on your computer and plug in your headphones. There’s nothing more frustrating than struggling with a lousy internet connect or poor audio on an important interview.
Practice listening carefully
Even if it feels like you’re bursting with questions to ask on your interview… listening is much more important than talking. Don’t interrupt or cut off the client when she/he is talking. Instead, try to be as present and engaged as possible, and remember to make eye contact and take discrete notes during the call. By actively listening, you are demonstrating respect and patience, and this will also help build a genuine rapport between you and the interviewer. Once the interviewer is done asking their questions, you can ask a few questions of your own.
Plan the next step
When the time comes to wrap up your interview, always try to leave with next steps. For example, if the client asked to see your portfolio, resume, or work samples... let them know that you’ll be sending an email later today with those details. If the client asked for a quote or a custom package, give them an estimate on when they can expect to receive that. If the client didn’t ask for anything and wants to speak with a few more freelancers before making their decision - let them know that you’ll send a bullet list of everything discussed today and you’ll reach out again in a couple days to follow-up on your application. Always think about how you can keep moving forward so the conversation doesn’t end with the interview.
Thank the interviewer for their time
Don’t forget to thank the person you’re talking with for taking the time out of their busy schedule to meet with you! No matter how you think the interview went, always end on a positive note and show your appreciation for the opportunity.
Show-up late for the call
Lateness is a no-no with any interview, but there’s definitely no excuse when you have no commute! Send a calendar invite if necessary and set an alarm on your phone for at least 30 minutes before the call. Make sure you’re awake, dressed, and ready in time for the call, so that you make the best impression possible. Punctuality is usually your first test as a freelancer and the client may be watching to see how professional you are in this area - so don’t be late!
One of the perks of freelancing is not having to wear traditional office clothes all day, but your clients or employers don’t want to see your pajamas! Even if you’re not expecting to be on camera, it pays to dress appropriately for every interview. You don’t have to look formal, but looking fresh and well-groomed (even for phone interviews) will show that you care!
Hide or fake your personality
You’re awesome, and that’s why the client wants to interview you! Yes, skills and experience are important, but most clients want to get to know the real you, too. After all, if you like each other, you could be working together everyday! Don’t feel that you have to hide behind all the formal stuff and present a perfect image in order to get the job. Interviewers are just normal people. Be a real person, and you’ll build a connection that’s memorable and authentic.
Stress out over the interview
If you feel stressed or nervous before each interview, you’re not alone! Nerves are an important part of the interview process. It means you care about the outcome. But don’t let your nerves get the better of you. Have everything prepared in advance so there are no last-minute panics, and ensure that your microphone and internet connection are all up-and-running with no issues. Put positive reminders around your workspace or practice repeating a positive affirmation whenever you feel anxious (for example: “I will ace this interview and celebrate after with chocolate!”).
Use profanity or strong language
This is a super obvious one, but remember that each person you talk to is a potential client or employer, so treat everyone with respect and NEVER use profanity or strong language that could offend your interviewer. Even if you’re super comfortable with all types of language, it’s best to start out on your best behavior and then loosen up as you get more familiar.
What interview tips do you swear by? Leave a note in the comments and let us know!