Interview questions for freelance graphic designers

Hiring a freelance graphic designer for the first time can be a daunting experience. There are so many questions to ask. Plus, there’s no guarantee of a sit-down interview if you’re in different locations. In fact, you might never get to meet them face to face at all. So how do you work out if they’re the right person for your project?

A face to face interview isn't possible with remote freelancers.
A face to face interview isn’t possible with remote freelancers.

First of all you should definitely consider giving them a phone or video interview. Selecting the best person for your project takes careful consideration. Looking at their portfolio alone usually isn’t enough.

Since you can’t both be in the same location at the same time, a remote interview by video or phone will do the job. Obviously, if your project is a quick logo update, you don’t need to put the designer through three stages of intense interviews. So, use your common sense; in this situation a quick interview over the phone will tell you all you need to know. If your project is a complicated re-branding exercise which will take months to complete, you might want to consider a more rigorous phone interview technique.

A phone interview can be wonderfully insightful.
A phone interview can be wonderfully insightful.

Before you set out to interview your freelancer, take a look at their portfolio first. This should give you a good indication of what they’re capable of. Look for designers who have completed similar projects to yours, but a good graphic designer will be able to design just about anything. Another tip is to look for designers who have worked for similar companies to yours.

The interview:

Take notes from all of your phone interviews.
Take notes from all of your phone interviews.

Next, what should you ask? If you know nothing about the art of graphic design, it can be hard to know where to start. We’ll talk you through some of the main interview questions and how to interpret your freelancer’s answers.

Who are they?

Find out some history about your freelancer.
Find out some history about your freelancer.

Find out a bit of background about your freelancer. How experienced are they? How long have they been a freelancer? If they’re a beginner, do they have the experience needed for your project? If they’re in a different timezone, are they compatible with your workflow?

  1. Tell me a bit about yourself.
  2. How long have you been freelancing?
  3. Do you work from home or an office space?
  4. Have you worked on this kind of project before?
  5. Do you have references?
  6. Why should I hire you for my project?

Are they available?

Often overlooked in the interview, or asked at the last minute, this question is a dealbreaker when it comes to hiring a freelancer.

  1. Can you meet my deadline?
  2. Are you working on any other projects at the moment? – This question will give you an idea of how busy they are. If they’re juggling lots of jobs, your project may get delayed.

Questions about their previous work:

Find out what projects they've worked on before.
Find out what projects they’ve worked on before.

You’ll find out more about the kind of companies they have worked for in the past, how they might fit into your office culture and what skills they have.

  1. What size was the previous company you worked for?
  2. Have you worked for [your type of industry] before?
  3. Tell me about a recent project you completed, and why it brought out the best in you? – From this question you can get an insight into how they work and where their skills lie – are they good at organising, prioritising, working within a team etc.

Questions to ask about their portfolio:

Asking questions about the designer’s portfolio will give you a greater insight into their workflow how they make decisions. You can ask questions about specific pieces in their portfolio to uncover their previous experience.

  1. Show me your best piece – An open-ended question which will get the creative to talk at length about the process behind their best piece of work.
  1. What was the objective of this piece?
  2. What was your role on this piece/was this a collaborative effort?
  3. What was the business result of this piece?
  4. How long did it take you to make this?
  5. What was the problem that you solved here?

Do they understand your project?

Are you both on the same page?

Do they understand exactly what you want them to do and what’s required of your project? Even if they sound like they’ve taken on board everything you’ve asked, it could be worth getting them to explain your project back to you. Just to make sure there’s been no miscommunication – it happens more easily than you’d think. Other questions you could ask are:

  1. What core skills do you think you’ll need for this project?

What software do they use?

Ask your designer this to figure out whether they use industry standard software. It’s not a great idea to hire freelancers who don’t work with industry standard software packages. You may find that you end up with design files that are only compatible with the unconventional software that your designer used.

  1. If I asked you to design X, what software would you use?
  2. What design software packages do you use?
  3. If we need our design in [insert name of software package], would you be able to do that?

How do they work?

What's their workflow?
What’s their workflow?

Every freelancer has a different way of working. Make sure you’re both compatible.

  1. How do you successfully work with remote clients?
  2. What hours do you usually work?
  3. What methods of communication do you prefer?
  4. How long is your turnaround time?
  5. How will the project be delivered?

Money and technical:

Get down to business. Don’t overlook these aspects when choosing a freelancer otherwise it could cost you dearly further down the line.

  1. How much will this cost?/Are you able to give me a quote?
  2. What method of payment do you prefer?
  3. Who will own the work after it’s completed?
  4. What’s included in the price? – Here’s your chance to ask about revisions or changes that might be needed once the project is completed. Check what kind of files you’ll receive too.
  1. What if I don’t like the design you’ve done? – Does the designer offer any kind of money back guarantee in this case?
  1. Will you complete this project yourself? – Some high profile designers will outsource projects to other team members. Make sure you know who’s working on your project.
  1. When will payment be due?
  2. Do I get the source files included in the price?

Additional questions:

Give the freelancer opportunity to ask any questions they might have about the project, you or your company.

  1. What do you need from me?
  2. Do you have any other questions?

These articles will tell you more about interviewing freelancers:

What questions to ask freelancers before hiring them

10 questions to ask a freelancer

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After studying English Literature at university, Vicky decided she didn’t want to be either a teacher or whoever it is that writes those interminable mash-up novels about Jane Austen and pirates, so sensibly moved into graphic design. She worked freelance for some time on various projects before starting at Twine and giving the site its unique, colourful look. Despite having studied in Manchester and spent some years in Cheshire, she’s originally from Cumbria and stubbornly refuses to pick up a Mancunian accent. A keen hiker, Vicky also shows her geographic preferences by preferring the Cumbrian landscape to anything more local.

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