How to ace an Upwork interview: Advice from a 6-figure freelancer (with examples)

You may find yourself asking: “Now what?” and “How do I convince this client to hire me?”

The internet is often full of obvious advice and clickbait on the topic of how to accept and ace Upwork interviews. 

This is not going to be one of those articles.

This article is going to contain real tried and tested actionable advice based on my personal experiences as someone who has earned over $500,000 on Upwork and studies human behavior as it relates to sales.

Buckle in, you’re welcome.

Read Also: Can you make good money on Upwork? How I made $500,000 in 4 years

If you are new to Upwork, before we begin, you might also find it helpful to check out my articles on how to win your first job and write an Upwork proposal

It’s also important to point out that the following advice assumes that you are a tried and true professional who is capable of gathering project requirements and producing quality work on time and on budget.

Never over promise something that you can’t deliver.

Below are my tried and true, less obvious, no “BS” methods to acing an Upwork interview.

1. Behave like the professional you know you are

An Upwork interview is not a traditional job interview and should not be treated like one. 

The point of this interview isn’t to impress your client in hopes that they will throw you a bone as an applicant in need of a job.

Your goal in this interview is to convey to your prospective client that you are a cool and confident professional and that their project will be in good hands when they hire you.

At the risk of sounding self-centered, I often approach an interview thinking about how lucky my client is to have found me, versus the other way around.

I also tend to interview my client to make sure that they’re going to be a good fit for me, and someone that I actually want to work with.

I generally use the interview phase to identify potential red flags, and avoid bad clients before the contract even begins.

Read Also: Client Red Flags: 8 types of clients to avoid on Upwork

2. Let your client do most of the talking

One of the biggest keys to acing an interview is learning to become a great conversationalist. 

You want your client to walk away thinking about how much they enjoyed talking to you.

And the trick to being a great conversationalist is counterintuitive. 

It’s not about what you say, it’s about your ability to keep your client talking, and listen to what they have to say.

Mark Goulston, M.D., author of the book Just Listen, and a Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine at UCLA’s Neuropsychiatric Institute says that the human brain is inclined to prefer talking over listening and that talking can be a natural stress reliever. 

“One of the reasons we’d rather talk than listen is that if our minds are filled to capacity and we listen, we run the risk of overloading our brain’s circuits, forgetting things we’re trying to remember,” Dr. Goulston writes in an article published by Psychology Today

“Talking is a motor function and when we get past the first 20 seconds of sharing information we cross over into using it as a way of relieving stress.” 

And remember, your prospective client might be just as stressed out as you are during any given interview. Why not let them blow off a bit of that steam by letting them get a few things off their chest?

Letting the other person do most of the talking is also a hallmark of Dale Carnegie’s teachings in How to Win Friends and Influence People

Start your next interview by encouraging your client to talk about themselves. Try asking the following questions:

  1. Tell me a bit about yourself.
  2. Tell me about your business.
  3. What are your business goals?
  4. What are your project goals?

Keep the conversation casual, comfortable and professional throughout. And never forget to show a genuine interest in what your client has to say.

3. Use your client’s name

Here’s another Dale Carnegie trick – use your client’s name throughout the interview (sparingly, don’t overdo it).

As he states in the famous How to Win Friends and Influence People book, “a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”

If you missed introductions or don’t remember your client’s name, don’t be afraid to ask for a quick reminder. Write it down if you can, to help you remember.

According to an article in Inc.com by Stacey MacNaught, studies have revealed that our brains “light up” during an MRI scan when we hear our own names compared to hearing other words.

We like to hear our own names, it’s a sign of respect and it breeds likeability. And respect and likability are key ingredients to winning jobs.

4. Be funny

Knock knock. Who’s there? 

It’s you, and you’ve got jokes. Or at least you should.

Did you know that humor is such an important leadership trait that it’s actually taught at Stanford’s business school?

No joke. (See what I did there?)

According to an article in Fast Company, when managers with a sense of humor were rated by their subordinates they were rated as 23% more respected and 25% more pleasant to work with.

The same article also cites a study where adding a single lighthearted line at the end of a sales pitch like “my final offer is X and I’ll throw in my pet frog” increased their customers’ willingness to pay by 18%. 

The article goes on to offer up some real science behind this phenomenon. 

“When people laugh, a neuro-chemical response is activated that fills the human brain with dopamine (which increases happiness), endorphins and oxytocin (which increases trust).” 

And here’s the best news of all – you don’t have to be Eddie Murphy to make this happen. 

You don’t have to turn the entire interview into a stand-up routine or make your client laugh so hard that you bring tears to their eyes. 

Even a small chuckle can give your clients’ brains a quick burst of those feel-good chemicals that will make you instantly more endearing in their hearts and minds. 

5. Use the “assumptive close” technique

And finally, this little piece of advice is worth its weight in gold. 

You need to learn how to “close” the sale. 

My favorite closing technique is called the “assumptive close” (also known as the “presumptive close”). 

The assumptive close is exactly what it sounds like. It’s where you assume the client is ready to hire you.

That’s right, you don’t give them the chance to overthink it, or to decline. 

It’s a common sales tool for business professionals in retail and B2B (business to business).

Instead of asking “are you ready to hire me?” you simply state “go ahead and send over the offer and I can get started this afternoon!”

Here are a few other real life examples of the assumptive I’ve used to close a deal on Upwork:

  • Go ahead and send over the offer and I’ll accept!
  • Send over the files and I’ll get started this afternoon.
  • How does Friday sound for our deadline?

I personally find that it’s pretty rare for a client to put the brakes on the contract once they see that I’ve assumed the deal is already in motion. 

They usually just go along with it. And honestly, I think they appreciate the confidence. 

Will you be applying any of these techniques to your next Upwork interview? Let me know in the comments. Also, don’t forget to connect with me on social media using the links below.

1 thought on “How to ace an Upwork interview: Advice from a 6-figure freelancer (with examples)”

  1. Awesome advice, Ms. Morgan!

    I particularly liked the assumptive close technique — it’s a technique I use with clients a lot.

    Thank you for the advice, I’ll be putting them to good use!

    Reply

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