Becoming self-employed

Interview tips for freelancers and contractors

A freelancer at a job interview

Table of contents

    If you’ve landed a job interview, congratulations! Now you’ve got to this stage – here are some things you absolutely shouldn’t do while interviewing for a job.

    We also have some first impression tips in our Ultimate Self-Employed Business Tips articles.

    Don’t be late – but don’t be too early either

    You can argue that earliness shows enthusiasm – why wouldn’t you want to demonstrate that you’re really keen by being super early? However, if you turn up too early, it could end up backfiring on you and might make your prospective employer think you’re not very good at planning.

    It might also come across like you expect the interviewer to be able to drop everything at that moment and start the interview early, even if your intention was to wait around until the appointed time. This causes stress, as re-arranging schedules and re-booking meeting rooms at short notice is not often possible.

    For those finding themselves early for an interview, go get a coffee and come back five minutes beforehand.

    Dress appropriately

    Casual dress seems to be par for the course for most modern businesses. However, there’s definitely a balance and wearing clothes that become a point of discussion is not advisable. A light shirt with your favourite band t-shirt underneath is like a window into the soul – think about whether that’ll work in your favour or not.

    If you arrive by bike, change before you arrive at reception. Cycle shorts or motorbike leathers are slightly distracting in an office environment.

    Allow for extra time

    Make sure you allow yourself and your interviewer enough time for the proceedings. If it’s going well the interview could very well overrun, or they might throw in a fun little technical test. So make sure that you aren’t sitting in the interview worrying about catching a train, or pop out halfway through to put more money in a parking meter – it’s usually pretty obvious if you’re distracted.

    Do some preparation

    It’s important to really understand the company you’re interviewing for. Not just what they do on a superficial level, but their history, values and culture. Read some press coverage, their blog, and maybe check out a few of their senior staff on LinkedIn. If applying for a technical job (such as software or accountancy), read the job spec and prepare.

    Have an opinion

    It’s not uncommon for interviewees to nod along in agreement with whatever their interviewer says, but that makes for a very dull interview (for everybody involved).

    Companies hiring freelancers or contractors are looking for people who aren’t afraid to express opinions and, particularly in technical disciplines. They want people who can explain why they like one approach but don’t like another. Even if you tell them you hate a methodology or technology they use, they’ll respect you for expressing that opinion – and might even end up agreeing with you.

    If you’ve got an interview lined up, best of luck!

    Need accounting help?

    Now you’ve got a great gig lined up, you’ll need to keep track of your expenses and tax responsibilities. Check out our handy article to find out why you might want to consider using online accountancy software.

    Take your accounting online