You sent a great proposal, landed an interview with a client you really want to work for, and now it’s time to prepare. So what should you do? Chances are you’re not the only person they’re interviewing, so you’ll need to make sure you stand out. One of the best ways to make a great impression—and ace the interview—is to tailor your answers to fit the client. The steps below will show you how.
If you have access to the company’s name or website before your interview, use this to your advantage. Visit their website and look at the products or services they sell. Do they have a mission statement? How do they describe themselves? Now try to find a couple of their biggest competitors and notice how they’re different. All of this research will help you be better prepared for the interview.
Even if you don’t know the company’s name, there are often clues in the job posting to indicate the industry and type of business. Take 15 minutes to research their industry and market. Make sure you understand the basics behind their business and their customers.
If there’s no information about the company or their industry in the job posting, send a message to the client and ask if they can share some information about their business before the interview so you can better prepare.
Once you have an understanding of the client’s business, it’s time to think about your own background. What experience do you have that is most relevant to what they need? If you’ve done a similar project or worked in a similar industry, brush up on the details and be prepared to talk about it. The more closely related an example from your past experience is, the better. So always use that as a filter when deciding which stories are best to share.
When you do share examples and stories in the interview, provide details. What exactly did your previous client need? What challenges did you face? What was the result? Share numbers, statistics, and other facts whenever possible.
At this point, you’ll almost be ready for the interview. As a last step, review the job posting again. Typically, a couple of days (or more) have passed since you submitted your proposal and received the interview request. So it’s a good idea to read the job post one more time to refresh your memory and make sure you know what the company’s priorities are.
Also, some clients ask freelancers to answer specific questions when responding to a job posting. If you did this, go back and review the questions and the answers you provided. These questions are a big clue about what’s most important to the client, so you can likely expect similar questions during the interview.
Then it’s interview time. This is your chance to show the client you understand their business and industry. Talk about opportunities you’ve identified. For example, tell them you were doing some research and noticed a competitor was using a certain tactic that you think might work well for them, too. Or talk about something you noticed on their website and an idea that came to mind. This kind of initiative is sure to impress them.
When you talk about how you’ll accomplish what they need, don’t just focus on the technical details of what you’ll do. Be sure to spend time explaining the real benefits for their business. Throughout the interview, keep asking yourself: What is the primary outcome they want this work to achieve for their business? If your answers aren’t addressing that, you’re missing an opportunity.
Clients generally prefer to hire a specialist, not a generalist. When they ask you to walk them through your background or describe your strengths, make sure the stories you share are highly relevant to their project. Give narrow, focused examples that demonstrate your expertise in this area. Be sure to highlight specific skills you have that are necessary for the project. Avoid making yourself sound like a generalist.
Also show them you have a plan for how to get started. What would your first actions be if they hired you for the project? Share some of these ideas and show them you’re 100 percent ready to do what they need.
What do you need to know to decide whether a project is a good fit? Finish the interview by asking plenty of thoughtful questions.
Tailor some of these questions to show you went the extra mile when preparing for the interview. You can ask about something specific in the job posting or something you uncovered while researching their industry or competitors. For example, “I noticed a couple of your competitors are offering a money-back guarantee to increase conversions. Is this something you’ve ever tested or thought about trying?”
Wrap up your interview by thanking them for their time and asking about next steps. If the project sounds interesting, tell them you’d love to get started and then give them a sense of when you could begin. Also be sure to tell them they can contact you if they have any questions. That way if there’s something they’re worried about after the interview or didn’t ask during the interview, they can ask and give you a chance to clarify. It will also give you another opportunity to impress them.
While the interview process may seem stressful, doing your homework and preparing your answers in advance can go a long way in making sure you put your best foot forward and look like a pro. With these tips, you’ll surely impress clients and land more projects.
This story was submitted by freelancer Biron Clark and does not constitute the views or opinions of Upwork.