Ready to say “yes” to taking on work from a new client? Check out our list of questions to ask before accepting a job to help set you up for success.
For anyone on the job hunt, receiving an offer letter is a thrilling experience. For freelancers, specifically, landing a new client is a huge win. But as exciting as it may be, ensuring you’ve thoroughly assessed the opportunity before giving the hiring manager a wholehearted “yes!” is key.
Before popping the champagne, it’s important to take the time to think about what questions to ask before accepting a job — and then ask them. Doing so not only paints a clearer picture of the responsibilities involved and what the client expects of you, but it also gives you an opportunity to clearly define your expectations with the client. And it helps compare the pros and the cons that may make or break the deal.
Here are nine questions to ask as you go through the interview process:
9 essential questions to ask about a job offer 📣
What services do you need?
Understanding the full scope of a potential employer’s expectations is crucial, even if it goes beyond your specific skill set. Ask about their needs, and if they require additional services, recommend another Independent if possible — you might even get a finder’s fee. Do your best to see the entire project, from start to finish, from the client’s perspective.
When do you need this project to be completed?
Clients set deadlines for a reason, and they obviously expect you to meet them. Knowing exactly when they expect you to complete the work helps you gauge job responsibilities and your availability, manage your workload, communicate effectively, and set realistic expectations for the client from the start.
How do they measure success for this role?
Success looks different for everybody, so understanding how the client defines a job well done is a must. Do they rely on detailed analytics, or do they take a more holistic approach? Zeroing in on the specifics helps you optimize your performance to meet their metrics from the get-go.
What are my immediate priorities in this role?
Identify your immediate tasks and priorities before taking on a new job. This lets you concentrate on the most critical tasks and make a substantial impact on the project when you’re first getting started.
When is the first day?
Knowing the time between the job offer and start date allows you to manage your schedule and, if you’re currently working elsewhere, submit your resignation, if necessary. Other important things to ask, if you haven’t already: Will this new position have you working from home, or will you need to be in the office? Is there an onboarding process, and if so, how long will it take?
Is payment negotiable?
Knowing if there’s room for negotiation may lead to a better compensation package. But first, you need to know — and feel confident about — what your skills and services are truly worth. Research what other Independents charge for similar projects, and set your preferred rate accordingly. Enter the conversation with potential clients with a figure in mind, and be flexible.
What are my benefits as an Independent?
Here’s how to ask about benefits after a job offer: Do it during the job interview! In some cases, what a company offers Independents may include a benefits package with perks like relocation expenses, sick days, vacation days, health insurance, a retirement plan, tuition reimbursement, paid time off (PTO), and career development opportunities. Find out what’s available to you — which may include flexible projects and working hours — to evaluate the overall value of the opportunity and take a good look at the big picture for your career growth.
How much time do I have to accept the job?
If you're wondering how to ask for time to consider a job offer, the easiest way is to be straightforward and simply ask. Let the client know it will allow you to weigh your options. This is a major decision, so don't rush it.
May I have the offer in writing?
Asking for your offer in writing will help prevent potential misunderstandings during your job search and provide a place to reference the terms you agreed upon with the client. Proper documentation helps protect your interests and your job — so don’t forget to keep the offer somewhere safe.
6 things to consider before accepting a job offer 💭
So you got an offer. Congrats! But before you say “yes,” take some time to ask yourself the following. Doing so will help you gain valuable insight into whether everything aligns with your values, expectations, and professional goals.
Does this job excite me?
Taking on a new job is a big deal. Before you dive in, assess whether it aligns with your passions and interests. If you're not excited about its potential right off the hop, you might be even less enthusiastic about it later.
What’s my current bandwidth?
Evaluate your availability to make sure you’re not spreading yourself too thinly. A healthy work-life balance is a must; it prevents burnout and helps you work on things like hobbies, fitness, and achieving personal goals. If you don’t have the capacity to confidently take on the job — and do it well — give it a pass.
Do the job’s responsibilities meet my expectations?
Examine the tasks assigned to you and the expected responsibilities that accompany them, and think about how they relate to your skills. Are there learning opportunities that may help advance your career? Are you comfortable with what your client expects you to do?
Does the pay rate meet my financial expectations?
Don’t sell yourself short. Ensure the compensation aligns with your financial needs and market value — this may require digging into how other Independents are pricing their services. Even if the rate meets your expectations, don’t hesitate to negotiate with the client.
Will this job challenge me?
Consider whether the job will push your boundaries and allow you the opportunity to triumph over new challenges. Also, consider whether this job will lead you to new experiences and allow you to learn new skills.
What are my non-negotiables?
Identify any deal-breakers that could hinder successful collaboration with your client. These may include inflexible work hours, an incompatible communication style, or an unrealistic project scope. Be realistic about what you absolutely need to take on the job to do it well, and stay true to it.
Find freelance clients with Contra 💡
It’s undeniable — landing a new freelance job is exhilarating. But you can’t let that excitement rush you into accepting projects that aren’t right for you. By asking potential clients the right questions and considering their responses, you’ll be better able to assess your options and choose ideal collaborations.
To make this process even smoother, try Contra! Our commission-free platform is designed for Independents by Independents (find out what they are here), and it’s a great way to find freelance work. On Contra, you can get discovered by potential clients and locate jobs tailored to your unique needs.