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How do you screen freelancers? Some totally lie through their teeth

Active Member
Guy U Member Since: Mar 9, 2017
1 of 13

A few years ago I used your service to hire a sales guy who seemed very good. I noticed on his call log the calls were very short - between 1-10 seconds so I added a few seeds in the call list with my own numbers.
Eventually I was called and the guy on the phone could hardly speak a word of English, it was embarrassing - by the way the guy was called **Edited for Community Guidelines** - here's his profile **Edited for Community Guidelines**

Now I thought I'd give you another try looking for a web developer. A guy called **Edited for Community Guidelines** replied (this is his profile; **Edited for Community Guidelines**) and he listed a number of very high quality websites as his own,. I have been in touch with each of the agencies that made the examples he sent and no one has overheard of him!!!

Also, this is his original profile image: **Edited for Community Guidelines**


**Edited for Community Guidelines**

And now he is using this one; **Edited for Community Guidelines**


**Edited for Community Guidelines**


So I'd like to know how do you vet your freelancers. Surely if someone makes such an obvious profile image change it should alert you, and saying other work is your own is illegal.

What standards do you have that freelancers need to pass by?

Aleksandar D Moderator Member Since: Mar 23, 2019
2 of 13

Hi Guy,


I'm sorry to hear about your experience so far. I sent all this to the team for investigation so that appropriate actions can be taken according to our internal processes. You can always flag any suspicious activity by following the steps from this help article.


Please note that in general, we do not vet freelancers. In most cases, we do verify a freelancer’s identity. And in a few cases, freelancers with certain skills have been "Expert-Vetted", meaning their skills have been vetted by experts in their field, under a new Upwork initiative we are testing out. However, when selecting a freelancer, it’s best to carefully review their profile, the feedback they’ve received from other clients, and take the time to interview them to determine if they are the right person for your project.


Thank you.

~ Aleksandar
Active Member
Guy U Member Since: Mar 9, 2017
3 of 13
With cases as blatantly as obvious as this, there should be a way to block
these freelancers and all the other freelancers they are associated with.

It takes a great amount of time to vet every single freelancer - even the
reviews with this case are very suspicious.
Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
4 of 13

As a client, I have hired over 100 freelancers.


I don't spend much time vetting freelancers. I don't interview freelancers prior to hiring them. I certainly don't call what I do "vetting," which to me implies a much more involved process than I use.


I will look at a freelancer's portfolio and hire based on that. Or if I am hiring quickly for a technical task, I will hire the first freelancer who applies. Or if I am hiring many freelancers for a task, I simply hire the first ones to apply.


I will briefly look at a freelancer's rate and skill set. For example, if I am hiring a graphic artist, I won't hire a person whose profile clearly identifies them as a blog writer and not a graphic artist.


But mostly... I think "vetting" is a waste of my time.


I prefer to hire freelancers quickly and then fire them quickly if I don't like their work.


Using hourly contracts, a client has infinite flexibility to fire a freelancer whenever he wants to. I can end the contract in five minutes if I don't think a freelancer is a good fit for the project.


I don't believe it is really possible to know for sure how a freelancer will work out before hiring him, so I don't try to make such a determination.


I am not advising all clients to hire the same way I do. What I am describing here lies outside of the standard recommendations we see offered. But I think it is valuable to know about an alternative viewpoint on this topic.


I think one of the biggest mistakes clients make is not ending the contract quickly when they encounter an underperforming or incompetent freelancer. If clients don't spend too much time hiring freelancers, then it is easier to fire a freelancer quickly if he isn't working out.

Community Guru
Jennifer M Member Since: May 17, 2015
5 of 13

Sure sure don't check anything just hire whoever bids first. Great advice.


OP, the best way to filter out the frauds is to have a short phone call. The outsourcing, all you can do is ask if they outsource. They can still lie to you, but you can specifically say that you don't want outsourcing. I get that a lot.

Active Member
Guy U Member Since: Mar 9, 2017
6 of 13
Yeah I know, right! Take on the first to respond - they are usually the
ones with no work and for a reason!

I had many a phone call with the telesales rep, we went through the script
many times.

Community Guru
Mikko R Member Since: Dec 26, 2015
7 of 13
Guy, I use a similar approach as Preston (if I understood it right, and sorry if I didn't).

I hire people really quick by just looking at their track record. I might not even have a voice call with them (time zones, language barrier, etc.).

I might use multiple sites. Or just Upwork.

If the job is complicated, I come here and take my time in interviewing the guy. The best guy is easy enough to spot.

If the job is simple, just about anyone will do. I just pick a guy who has done similar things before and a "spare" guy who I hire at the same time.

If I have a long-term aim, I have options based on my hiring history. Usually, I hire the one who was best the last time (and usually the most expensive one too).

Simple, right? 😉
Active Member
Guy U Member Since: Mar 9, 2017
8 of 13
I think it depends on what your project is. If it's a quick job then sure,
I would probably do the same, but for large scale projects it's different.

The telesales guy was my bad really, I should have put seeds in the list
from the beginning.

But the web project is a big project ($10,000+) so choosing someone from
the outset who you can rely on & trust is important. I just didn't expect
someone to be lying about the previous projects they had undertaken and I'm
relieved I contacted each website to ask!
Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
9 of 13

re: "I think it depends on what your project is."


Yes. Completely agree.


re: "But the web project is a big project ($10,000+) so choosing someone from the outset who you can rely on & trust is important."


I agree.

But a few points:

It is still not possible to know for certain if a freelancer will work out for the project. I believe a project of this size is too big and too important to hire only one freelancer. I believe you should hire multiple freelancers and then you will be able to do compare the work that they do. If they are all great, then that is fine. But usually you will find a few who are better or more affordable than the others. If you hire multiple people, it is easier to know who to get rid of and who to continue working with.

Community Guru
Mikko R Member Since: Dec 26, 2015
10 of 13
Guy, asking for references was a good move. I use that a lot! And many times I find the freelancer dodging the question, or giving some nonsense excuse, so they're are busted in a second.

What works pretty well is splitting the project in a way that is logically sound and so that the results can be transferred to other people somewhat easily without much overhead.

Say I develop a big website. I ask a couple of people to make clickable wireframes. I'm not impressed by either ones, so now I don't have a developer. But I have the wireframes. If not perfect, I may have to polish them myself or hire a third guy to finish.

Then I ask for the visuals of every page. Regardless of who does it, at the end of this subprocess I have a graphic version of the site including all the visible parts of the website.

Now I just need someone to do the programming and database development. Again, I can ask a small part of the whole thing to be developed, e.g. user profile management functions only.

Eventually I get everything done even if I had 10 different people working on the project. And all of them fully paid, me owning the results.

A small part might have been redundant work.

I can say this approach works really well and scales easily up to that $10K class of projects you mentioned.

Just make sure each step produces a result than can be transferred.

In the optimal case you only need to work with one guy. But you don't know who it is before to you start. 😉

The obvious limitation is that you won't get the best possible speed when changing the people all the time. But if your hiring process is fast, it won't be a big hindrance.