7 Questions to Ask Freelancers Before You Send Them Work Freelancers will provide the talent you need, at the price you can afford. Or, at least they will after you're sure of their talents and what they charge.

By Matt Keener

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Westend61 | Getty Images

There are many benefits to hiring freelancers. Scalability, cost reduction and economies of scale are compelling reasons for outsourcing tasks. Despite all the advantages, if you don't ask the right questions, you may start the relationship on the wrong foot.

Consider asking these seven basic questions before hiring your next freelancer.

1. What are your normal business hours?

Outsourcing marketplaces now make it possible to hire professionals from across the globe. With a few clicks, you could be chatting with freelancers from Argentina, India and The Philippines.

Keep in mind that most people (including online workers) tend to operate within their own local time zones. Inquiring about normal business hours is an important step for both parties. Setting realistic expectations can be useful in evaluating fit, but it is also important for minimizing friction in the future.

Depending on the work being done, it is possible to maintain healthy virtual relationships when operating on completely different schedules. However, this can only be done when both you and the freelancer understand the arrangement.

Related: Everything You Need to Know About Hiring a Freelancer

2. What type of Internet speed do you have?

There's nothing worse than a choppy web conference. You have enough tasks on your todo list already, and dealing with a contractor's poor Internet connection isn't one of them.

Ask the contractor to do a quick test using one of the many free tools available online. As a general rule, at least 1 mbps (megabits per second) of download / upload speed is a minimum necessity for video calls. However, for high definition or group video conferencing, additional bandwidth may be needed.

Related: 10 Questions to Ask Before Allowing Employees to Telecommute

3. Hourly, fixed-price or both?

Most freelancing contracts fall into one of two categories: hourly or fixed-price. Either arrangement can be beneficial, but it often depends on the work being done. For example, if you're hiring someone to redesign your logo, it may be wise to push for a set budget. On the other hand, if you need a consultant to provide multi-faceted support, hourly is probably a better option.

In some cases, a melding of the two models can also be worthwhile. For example, if a contractor proposes $20 per hour, you might consider a slightly lower rate in exchange for a performance-based bonus. This can help you, the client, from a cash flow standpoint and give the contractor an even greater earning potential if output exceeds expectations.

4. What do you enjoy doing?

It's frustrating when you hire a freelancer to do a certain task and later find out that she dislikes the work being done.

Keep in mind that many freelancers, especially some in certain cultures, tend to promote themselves as generalists. For example, a marketer may claim to have expertise in graphic design, blogging, social media, email marketing and project management. In my experience, there are actually very few contractors who truly excel in all of these areas.Avoid this issue by asking candidates what they enjoy doing (or prefer not to do). If you never ask, you may not find out until it's too late.

5. Is your software properly licensed?

This might be over the top, but I gain peace of mind knowing that people I engage with are playing by the rules. Pirated software is still a big problem in today's world, and this is especially true among freelancers.

I would venture to say few clients ever consider asking this question, but what could be a stronger indicator of character? Finding honest and forthright freelancers should be a priority, especially if you're hoping to leverage outsourcing for the long-term.

6. Are you willing to sign an NDA?

Nondisclosure agreements (NDAs) are commonplace in today's business environment. Asking contractors to sign them can be wise, especially if they will be privy to information you wish to keep secret.

Consider seeking legal counsel to ensure your NDA is enforceable and protects your business. If a contractor is unwilling to sign your agreement, it may not be the best fit.

Related: 3 Legal Precautions in Hiring Freelancers

7. Can you follow up with me in a few days?

This might be the most important question to ask. Having hired many freelancers myself, I can attest to the difficulty of measuring skill and character through a virtual interview (or even multiple interviews). Sometimes even the most seemingly qualified person will fail to perform when contracted.

To reduce the risk of failure, I will typically close an interview with a simple question: "Would you mind following up with me in a few days?" In asking this question, I give the freelancer his first task (albeit small). If he fails to follow up, it sends an important message about reliability.

Ask the right questions

Don't assume your expectations are already known by every freelancer. Instead, ask the right questions before making a hiring decision. In doing so, you will set the groundwork for better relationships and more profitable outsourcing.

Matt Keener

President of Keener Marketing Solutions

Matt Keener is president of Keener Marketing Solutions, LLC and author of Executive in Sweatpants: A Handbook for Launching Your Work from Home Career. As an outsourcing coach, he helps both clients and contractors reach their fullest potential. Visit his blog for helpful tips on managing online workers, growing virtual teams and more.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Related Topics

Starting a Business

This Retiree's Leisurely Side Hustle Makes $66,000 a Year and, 'You Don't Even Need to Go to High School to Do It'

Barbara Hill wanted a flexible, part-time job that would transition well into retirement. Now she mentors younger people who are making over $200,000 a year. Here's her insider's guide to getting started.

Business News

IKEA Price Increases Are Going Viral — Here's How Much Your Favorite Couch Costs Now: 'Inflation Is Crazy'

A video with a customer complaining about "inflation" and "corporate greed" has racked up over 1.3 million views on TikTok.

Business News

Elon Musk Sues ChatGPT-Maker OpenAI, Accuses the Company of Working to 'Maximize Profits For Microsoft, Rather Than For the Benefit of Humanity'

Musk claims that OpenAI's partnership with Microsoft threatens its original mission as outlined in a founder's agreement.

Business News

HP Wants You to 'Never Own A Printer Again,' Launches Rental Subscription

In February, HP's CEO Enrique Lores stated that making printing a subscription service was the company's "long-term objective."

Business News

'I Chickened Out': Barbara Corcoran Shares an Early Real Estate Regret — And How You Can Avoid the Same Mistake

The "Shark Tank" star spoke about real estate at Forbes' "Women & Wealth" series.


Traditional Ads Are Annoying — These 4 Megatrends Will Change Marketing in 2024

These four major marketing trends are set to explode this year.