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How To Use A Test Project To Vet Freelancers

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When you’re hiring a freelancer, you need to make sure that he or she is an excellent cultural fit for your company. You also need to get a sense of what you will get from a candidate for your time and money.

A great way to vet freelancers before onboarding them is to include a test project in your hiring process. A short trial task will help you closely monitor soft skills such as effective communication and time management.

Furthermore, it can give you an insight into a candidate’s skills and experience when they’re doing real work. This also creates an opportunity for you to see how well you can collaborate on projects.

In this blog, we’ll be talking about how you can use a test project to vet freelancers. Let’s get started!

What is a Test Project and Why You Should Use It?

A test project or test task is an additional level of screening before committing to a full project. It helps you identify the best candidate by showing you how good a particular freelancer is for the kind of project you have at hand.

Furthermore, it is a useful tool especially if you have two or more freelancers on your shortlist as it gives you a better understanding of their work ethic and style. Test projects can also help you determine, in a matter of a few hours or days:

  • How well a freelancer can meet or even exceed your needs
  • If a freelancer gives feedback or asks for clarifications without being asked
  • How effectively they communicate
  • If they can give the attention to detail you need to effectively complete a project

Of course, a test task doesn’t only benefit business owners who are looking for a little help, it can also work in favor of freelancers. Test projects give freelancers a chance to see what you expect of them throughout the project without forcing them to commit to something they cannot sustain down the line.

In the end, a test assignment is beneficial for both parties because it lets you and the freelancer understand how the project will play out based on your expectations and their skills and work style. It gives you an idea of whether or not you can work harmoniously with a candidate. If you find that’s not the case, then you can move on to another candidate without causing any damage to your project.

Guidelines for Assigning a Test Project to Freelancers

Regardless of the type of project you need, you need to keep some things in mind when assigning test tasks to candidates.

Determine the Guidelines and Conditions for the Trial Period and Task

Be upfront with your shortlisted candidates. Make them aware that you will have a test run as part of your hiring process and that you have expectations for them to meet.

Set Expectations in Advance

Let freelancers know what you expect to get for their deliverables in this trial run. Tangible outputs such as graphic designs, written content, social media updates, and the like should have a quality that is proportional to the price you’re asking for and the experience of the freelancer. Meanwhile, consultants are typically expected to look for insight into a problem similar to what they’d encounter on the job.

Set a Fixed Timescale

Express your expected time of delivery for the output so that the freelancer knows how to allocate his or her time properly. Doing so also gives you an idea of their availability as well as the quality of service they can give set to a specific timeframe.

Clarify the Price

To make the trial task appealing for a freelancer, you need to think about paying them just as you would pay them for the bigger project. You can pay them under a flat fee scheme for a deliverable or you can pay them by the hour.

Pay Attention to the Details

The point of a trial project is to give you an idea of how a freelancer works in real life. Be mindful of how responsive the freelancer is to your messages to determine whether or not you can collaborate smoothly on the full project. Check also for the quality of their output and how well they’ve managed to meet your deadlines.

Types of Projects that Can Benefit from Test Tasks

A trial run is a great way to find out whether or not a freelancer can complete the outputs you need on time, on budget, and with the attitude and work ethic that complements your own. Certain projects benefit best from trial tasks. This includes:

Web Development

Web development is perhaps one of the most common projects that people hire freelancers for. A lot can go into this type of project including building online stores, building a website from scratch, and even building databases and backend frameworks,

Give freelance web developers a small and non-critical project they can work on as their trial task. This way, you can observe them in action while getting information about their work beyond the job interview.

You can check for efficiency in delivering their outputs and determine the quality of their final product based on a test project. You can see how buggy their products are and if they can provide creative solutions to issues. Furthermore, you can also check if a freelance web developer can jive well with the other people in your company and if they can communicate problems and delays should any arise.

Web Design

Website designers help you translate your ideas and vision into a tangible website. They can design and prepare an entire website for you including the images and graphics that form part of the design as a whole.

Apart from taking a gander at their design portfolio, you can also set a trial task for the freelance web designers on your shortlist. You can ask them to put together a single wireframe containing detailed UX or UI explanations for the elements. This way, you can see how they will work on your actual project.

Social Media Management

Social media plays a crucial role in the marketing strategy of many businesses today. A freelance social media manager can help you reach out and build new relationships online, grow your social media presence, build a content calendar, and create daily content for you.

You can ask candidates to put together a bunch of social media updates about your brand to evaluate the freelancer’s technical, creative, and decision-making skills. You can also use the trial project as an opportunity to appraise the freelancer’s overall suitability to the work you need as well as their ability to learn your processes and systems.

Content Creation

Written content such as blogs, white papers, branded content, product content, and marketing emails are important in today’s digital marketing sphere. There are countless freelance writers out there who can create content to suit your needs. However, not all writers are created equal.

While you can easily browse through their portfolios, running a writing test is a better alternative to gauge the abilities of the candidates on your shortlist. You can ask them to write a sample blog or press release about your products or services and from there, you can assess whether they or not they can adapt the style, voice, and tone you need for your business.


If you have a podcast that you’d like to turn into blog articles or to convert your audio clips into usable content for your business, then hiring a freelance transcriptionist is for you. Before deciding on which candidate to hire, you can assign a simple transcription task to see how quickly a freelancer can work and how accurately they can transcribe your recorded content.

Graphic Design

Graphic design is also a perfect project that can benefit from a test project. Freelance graphic designers can help you create product images, graphics for ad campaigns, design promo, logo and banners, and even create infographics for your social media.

If you have a big project at hand, you can ask your candidates to work on a small part of the project as their trial task. Alternatively, you can also ask them to create a sample promo logo or graphic related to your business or one of your campaigns.

How to Determine the Type of Test Task to Request?

Running a test project can help improve your hiring process by going beyond a freelancer’s resume. But how do you determine the appropriate test task to request to your shortlisted candidates? Here are some useful tips for you:

Identify Your Project/Position Goals

Before setting out to request test projects to your candidates, identify first what your goals are for the project. Determine what you want to achieve and how a freelancer can help you reach this goal.

List the Skills You Need from a Freelancer

You need to have a clear idea of the skills you need for your project. For example, a social media manager has to have strong communication skills, good grammar, and a good eye for influencers. Meanwhile, a transcriptionist should have good listening skills, organization skills. They should also have the ability to use the software you need for your project.

Find a Similar Project to Your Main One

An easy way to determine the test type you need to request from a freelancer is to find something similar to the project you’re hiring for. If you need help with writing content for your blog, ask for a writing test about your core topic.

Consider Using the First Project Milestone as a Test Project

Some projects are time sensitive and can be divided into milestones. You can use the first milestone as the test project. This is perfect if you’re looking for a web developer or a social media manager.

Prepare Problems They Can Solve

For main projects such as web design or web development, your test task could involve a series of problems that candidates can solve. This clues you in on how they are able to creatively solve issues that arise in the duration of the project.

Test Task Examples

There are plenty of ways you can start a trial project to your shortlisted candidates. One of the easiest ways to run a trial project to vet freelances is to ask them to work on a part of a larger project. This way, you can check the quality of their work first-hand.

If you’re looking to hire a copywriter, you can ask them to write an article for your blog. Meanwhile, for social media managers, you can ask them to come up with ideas for social media posts. They can also work on interacting with your social media community.

If you’re uncomfortable with sharing information about your project you can also ask freelancers to work on tasks that are unrelated to it. This could also work if you merely want to know how a freelancer works in general. For, transcriptionist, for example, you can send a sample audio file they can work on as a test task.

Alternatively, you can also ask your candidates to evaluate your current project status. If you need help with your current website, you can ask the candidates to write down 3 to 5 suggestions. This can include what they think could be changed in the design to make it better.

How to Create and Bill for Test Tasks on FreeUp?

At FreeUp, we make it easier for you to create and bill for test tasks. We have our own internal time tracking and billing system.  You and your chosen candidates can use it to log the hours they’ve worked on the test task. This time log along with the dollar amount will appear on your account dashboard.

You can use your FreeUp account to provide your budget and the project details then meet a freelancer within 1 business day. At the end of each 7-day billing period, you will receive a bill and be charged.

Hire Freelancers Who Rock with FreeUp

Hiring the right freelancers doesn’t have to be difficult. With the help of FreeUp, you can start working with pre-vetted freelancers quickly. If you’re ready to get started, simply sign up for a free account today!

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