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Questions to ask while hiring a contractor

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

The pandemic has revolutionized the global recruiting trends towards adopting a remote hiring process. This has knocked down the uncertainties associated with hiring contractors or freelancers instead of full-time employees because this is a cost-efficient method that provides the competency to hire a better workforce with top talents in the industry to support only when there is an ad-hoc requirement. However, if your organization is new to this complete practise of hiring contractors, there is a possibility for you to stumble with the hiring process. Multiplier has been an industry-leading advocate for remote recruitment and based on our insights we have curated a module on ‘what to ask for when hiring a contractor?’

Questions to ask a general contractor before hiring

The following questions should help you with deciding if a contractor has the required qualities to work in your team and help you with accomplishing your business goals.

  • Elaborate on your industry experience?

Before commencing with the hiring process, it is essential to know how much exposure the contractor has within the industry. This would enable us to frame our upcoming questions accordingly besides evaluating the competencies of the professional. On the contrary, evaluating a candidate’s quality of work purely on the basis of their experience could also be a misconception. Hence, this question should focus more on the professional’s experience about working with clients rather than assessing their ability to complete the task. On a final note, a professional freelancer is believed to have their workflow in place which allows them to be more efficient thereby, saving a significant amount of time and money as contractors are usually paid on an hourly basis. However, we should also consider that this idea does not undermine the capabilities of a new contractor in any way. 

  • Do you have the skills and tools required for this job role?

The response to this question should demonstrate a rational attitude and a firm understanding of the job requirements. Brownie points if the contractor is well acquainted with the challenges that may arise with respect to the task. A professional freelancer would respond to this question in a thoughtful manner and subtly bring his/her competencies to the limelight which would directly or indirectly contribute to the job requirement. Furthermore, an experienced freelancer would possess the tools required to execute the task efficiently and not expect the employer to provide the relevant tools, software, or training 

  • Can you share relevant work samples?

An experienced freelancer would maintain a strong portfolio displaying their previous clients list and the work rendered to them respectively. As an employer, you will have to evaluate if the task they have performed to their previous clients resonate with the job role you have specified. Besides this, the skill-level/expertise of the task performed, and individual contribution must also be assessed. On raising further questions about their experience, we can gain more focus on how the contractor collaborated with their previous clients? or what was the outcome of it? These questions would assist with making a decision-call on whether this contractor would be able to achieve the project metrics you are aiming for or not. To conclude, ask the contractor to quantify their performance from their client’s perspective and verify it across the references provided. This would prove their self-evaluation capability and quality of work. 

  • Define your typical working style?

The primary benefits which provides a leverage for contractors over actual employees is the ability to setup personalized schedules. Some contractors prefer working only over the weekends, or only a destined number of hours per day. In such cases, the employer is expected to be feasible with their availability to match the working hours of the contractor to communicate effectively. It is possible for you to hire the most talented contractors for a project however, if their availability or working style does not mesh with your requirements, they wouldn’t be the best fit to execute a task. Also, while working with international contractors, the business hours would not be synchronized between the employer and the contractor. In such cases, it is essential to schedule a status update call for every alternate day or twice a week to communicate the workflow efficiently. 

  • What is your bandwidth?

This is an extended conversation from the previous question. Here, bandwidth refers to a fixed business metrics for which a contractor works with an employer (i.e. certain hours or tasks per week/month). Gaining a clear idea about the bandwidth of the contractors would help with determining how much work could be assigned to them on a weekly or a monthly basis. Alternatively, some contractors prefer to discuss in terms of deliverables rather than the time incurred (i.e. number of assignments or tasks). In both the cases, having the conversation upfront and finalizing on a mutual clause would prevent significant delays or strain on the equation at a later point in time. 

  • Can we set up a kick-off meeting?

Before assigning a task to your contractor, it would be advisable to connect directly over a phone call or a meeting. This would be highly beneficial for both the parties to discuss the expectations and to provide a detailed brief about the task in addition to the email conversations. Furthermore, it also helps with evaluating if the contractor is a punctual person based on whether they are available for a scheduled discussion. Also, if you notice the contractor attempting to clarify their doubts over the kick-off call, it talks volumes about their professionalism and attention to detail. 

  • Will you be able to meet the proposed deadline?

Out of all the questions that could be asked while hiring a contractor, this appears to be the most common query. First, enquire what is the convenient turn-around time per the contractor based on the task in hand. As an employer, you are expected to draw a clear line on the deadline or the date of delivery keeping in mind the time difference if you are working with an international contractor. When a project is time-sensitive, it is essential to state it beforehand to refrain from potential delays which could be caused later. 

  • How do you calculate your fee?

The process of discussing commercials could be the most crucial part while hiring a contractor. Generally, contractors offer fixed-price services or an hourly bid based on the task they perform. For instance, graphic designers or content writers may charge a fixed rate for each design they deliver or the number of words they write while other consultants like digital marketers would charge a fixed hourly rate for the services provided. Always ensure to discuss and agree on a fixed cost or payable term before hiring a contractor. 

  • Will you be sharing a formal bid letter?

As a follow-up to the previous question, the employer can also request the contractor to share a formal bid letter in order to avoid further miscommunications. This formal bid should be signed by both parties on mutual agreement and will be considered as the base document for the entire contract. 

  • Do you have any questions?

Now that you have communicated all the expectations and project metrics transparently, it is time to know the opinion of your contractor about the entire workflow. This conversation would usually revolve around clarifying further doubts on the task or reiterating on the commercials or the deadline stated. This final question is of equal importance as the rest because it would align your requirements to the services provided by the contractor which results in, directing both the parties towards the same business goal. 

These are the general questions to ask before hiring a contractor to acquire the right talent with professional skills and values. The key takeaway from this subject is that, enlisting the things to ask a contractor before hiring would reduce the risk of miscommunication or misaligned expectations.

Questions to ask yourself before hiring contractors:

Statistics indicate that the contractor economy is booming with nearly 1.1 billion contractors worldwide, which is almost one-third of the global workforce. The value of independent contractors are not only restricted to the power of harnessing their expertise. Hence, it is essential to equip yourself as an employer before choosing to hire contractors. Here are some questions to evaluate the potential of your firm to hire contractors, 

Do you have a payment system that can help paying international contractors in their local currency? Do you have a system to manage your global employees and contractors in one place?  Are you planning to provide any benefits to your contractors? Multiplier can help you get started with the process of hiring contractors and managing them across the world. For further queries or details visit us.


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