All Things Upwork
January 22, 2009 by Brian McDonough

So you’ve focused your profile, updated your portfolio and learned to write a persuasive cover letter, all to land an interview with a buyer. Now what?

Here are some tips for effectively interviewing with remote buyers:

  • First, the obvious: Be prompt, polite, professional and prepared. Consider the “Four Ps” the unofficial code of conduct in the oDesk marketplace.
  • Be flexible. Time zones and communications preferences can be tricky; be willing to adapt to a reasonable time and the method — email, Skype, IM — that the buyer prefers.
  • Given that, try to schedule your interview for when you are at your best. Do not interview at the end of your day, when you’ll be tired. Better to wake up early for an interview than to stay up late.
  • If you are working on another job, make sure to stop at least an hour before your interview. You want time to wind down, get a fresh start, review any relevant materials, and make sure you’re giving your best.
  • Make sure you won’t be disturbed — especially if you’re on the phone (or Skype) and at home, don’t let background noise or interruptions make you seem unprofessional.
  • Bring notes. Have at hand examples of past work that are relevant to this job, and have pertinent links and reference contacts at hand.
  • Double-check your portfolio. If there’s anything relevant to this particular opportunity that you’d like the buyer to see, get it into your portfolio or be prepared to otherwise direct the buyer toward it.
  • Ask the buyer about his experience with providers. What bugs him about providers? What has he valued in remote workers in the past? Discuss how your strengths can make you the kind of worker he’s looking for.
  • Are you willing to do a paid sample project, maybe an hour or two of paid work? Suggest a “test job” yourself if the buyer seems to like you, but admits she’s not yet sure which of her final candidates to select. Just being confident in your own skills sends a good message.
  • If not a paid project, how about a very quick test, free? If you can quickly provide a small, customized demonstration of your skill set, it might be a worthwhile investment of time — particularly if the job has long-term potential. Just be cautious and don’t give away your work.
  • Don’t undercut yourself. If the buyer doesn’t ask you to negotiate over your rate, don’t offer to knock it down. If the buyer brings up rate issues, compromise if it’s worth your while. Suggest a trial rate that goes to full price after you’ve proven yourself, or take the pay cut but build in a bonus for reaching agreed-upon targets.
  • If you finish the interview promising to provide additional information or a link to an extra portfolio piece, do so promptly and include a thank-you note.
  • Even if there’s nothing more to “deliver,” follow up on your interview with a short and friendly thank-you note. You may also add a line or two (but no more) to strengthen a point in your interview.

If you’re prepared and relaxed — you’re both professionals, after all, and you are both just trying to find a solution to the buyer’s needs — there’s no reason for the interview not to be a success. Good luck!

Brian McDonough

Freelance Writer

Brian McDonough has been a writer and editor for more than 15 years, and has managed teams of in-house and freelance writers for newspapers, magazines and web sites.