The most experienced freelancer hiring teams learned long ago that “a trial is worth a thousand interviews”.
Unlike a full-time hire where a wrong hiring decision can feel irreversible and have expensive repercussions, the ability to “try before you buy” is one of the many benefits of working with a freelancer.
Advisable’s recruitment team have summarised freelancer hiring best practices based on Advisable’s own and our clients’ experience assessing, hiring and onboarding thousands of freelancers.
This article focuses on the art of the freelancer trial project.
What is a trial project?
A trial project is a short (~10 hours), paid (up to ~$1,000) standalone project with a clearly defined, valuable objective (that is worth something in its own right irrespective of whether the overall project goes ahead).
Why do you do freelancer trial projects?
As long as you have conducted an adequate freelancer interview then a trial project is a fast, low-risk way to gain valuable learnings that enable you to both increase the likelihood of achieving and make rapid progress towards your project goal.
How do you define a trial project?
The best trial projects have a clearly defined outcome and budget:
Outcome of Trial Project: what would be a good result from a trial project that is both quickly (~10 hours) attainable and clearly valuable (this should be valuable and attractive as a standalone project)?
Trial Project Budget: a budget for an initial trial project that is quickly and easily decided on and paid (i.e. an amount that can be paid on credit card without requiring approval e.g. $1k) with clear start and end dates
Any other advice for less experienced freelance hirers?
Some experienced hiring managers offer the following advice on arranging a trial project:
“The most important area to focus on is ensuring that the trial project is well defined – if you’ve been introduced to the freelancer via Advisable and have interviewed them correctly then you can most likely rest assured that they are of sufficient quality, you just need to point them in the right direction!”
“Many people less used to working with freelancers worry that the benefit of the trial output will be lost if they don’t continue with that freelancer. I think handover “cost” is actually relatively minimal: experienced freelancers are used to onboarding very quickly, documenting their work and preparing handover docs”
“If you’re unsure about using a freelancer instead of a FT hire, my advice (biased, but sincere) would be to simply try using a freelancer:
This quick, experimental decision making is a bit of a mindset shift vs. the more cautious approach of hiring for a full-time role, but it has been repeatedly proven to get results by our most successful clients”