What is interviewing on Upwork: A look at the Upwork interview process


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The internet is full of advice articles when it comes to Upwork. 

There’s plenty of advice on how to write great cover letters and effective proposals, how to win your first client or your first gig, how to raise your rates and even how to secure a positive review. 

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

And yet we rarely talk about how to actually respond to job invitations and interviews or accept offers on the Upwork platform.

This is disappointing because I think the process can be a bit confusing for a new freelancer or someone using the platform for the first time.

So let’s remedy that right now.

Editor’s Note: Please forgive the extraordinarily poor grammar I’ve used in this article’s headline. I’m a simple keyword-chasing SEO-loving blogger.

What is Upwork?

But before we get into exactly how to reply to these inquiries, let’s make sure we are all on the same page by talking about the circumstances that might lead to acquiring that interview invitation or job offer in the first place.

For the uninitiated, Upwork is the largest online freelance marketplace in the world.

Clients use the platform to post jobs. Freelancers use the platform to win jobs.

Most of these transactions happen on something called the Upwork Job Feed. 

The Job Feed looks similar to any other social media feed. But this feed features clients looking for freelance work.

On the Job Feed, freelancers browse job posts related to their field of expertise to which they can apply if there’s a job description that captures their attention.

But that’s not the only way to discover new clients and find jobs on the Upwork platform. 

In fact, the best way to find jobs on Upwork is actually via invitations.

Want to know what the interview process looks like? Keep reading young padawan.

Read Also: How to land your first job on Upwork: Advice from a $500k freelancer

The Upwork invite screen lists freelancers who may be a good fit for the job along with a snapshot of their profile including their name, earnings, and skills
The Invite Freelancers screen on Upwork

How do interviews work on Upwork?

When a client posts a new freelance job on Upwork, they are given the option to invite specific freelancers to apply. 

Upwork strives to suggest freelancers that are the best fit for the job, which are usually displayed in a paginated list. But the client may also search the Upwork database for freelancers whose profiles contain keywords related to the job post.

Only freelancers who have their availability turned on will appear on this list. 

The screenshot above offers a glimpse into exactly what that looks like from the client’s perspective.

The client may choose to send invitations to one or many freelancers – or none at all.

Those invitations are then sent to the freelancer’s email inbox, at which point the freelancer can either submit a proposal or decline.

Pro Tip: Freelancers who are invited have an increased chance of being hired for the job than those who apply via the feed. 

As an added benefit, Upwork Connects – Upwork’s form of digital currency – are not required to apply when you’ve been invited to interview. 

Should I pay for the boosted Availability Badge on Upwork?

At the time of this writing, the boosted Availability Badge does not play a role in the sorting of the above-mentioned list. It’s used for aesthetic purposes only.

It is entirely possible to receive an invitation to apply without paying for the badge.

A better way to improve your rank in the feed is to use SEO tactics like including high-trafficked low competition keywords in your Upwork profile (including the Work History section) and maintaining a decent Job Success Score. 

The invitation will pop up when you login to your upwork account, or, if you are opted into emails, appear in your inbox
An invitation to apply from Upwork

How do I respond to an Upwork interview invitation?

If the freelancer chooses to submit a proposal, they are directed to complete a cover letter just like they would for any other job discovered on the Job Feed.

The actual invitation itself will look nearly identical to a regular job post.

And as with any job post – invite or not – the client may also request that their applicants answer a list of specific questions related to the job or the freelancer’s previous experience in the field.

But the question is – exactly what should you say when accepting the invitation?

Personally, I just amend the first part of my proposal template to thank the prospective client for inviting me to apply. Then, I more or less respond the same way I would with any other job posting.

Read Also: How to increase your rate on Upwork: Step by step instructions

Below, I will include a real-life example that I used to win a $150 per hour interview on the Upwork platform.

For advice on how to write a great Upwork proposal, be sure to check out this article which contains proposal writing tips and cover letter templates.

Great freelancers know that learning how to write an effective proposal is key to winning jobs.

Read Also: Upwork proposal sample: 11 tips from a $500k freelancer

Upwork accept interview message sample

Hi [insert person’s name here],

Thanks for the invite – I’d love to help you and your team develop a public health toolkit! My background with the CDC Foundation will be an asset to this project.

A bit about me – I am a graphic designer with 20 years of professional experience. I work with nationally recognized clientele on a daily basis including the Centers for Disease Control Foundation (CDCF), Stanley Black & Decker and Kimberly-Clark (Kleenex).

Additionally, I have a hybrid background in graphic design and sales and am able to work with a variety of mediums including digital downloads, presentations and toolkits.

I am also FAST and pride myself on my ability to offer quick turnarounds. I will attach a few design examples to this proposal.

Reach out to me here on Upwork and we can talk details! Looking forward to hearing from you soon!

Morgan Overholt

Also, be sure to answer any of those previously mentioned interview questions the client has included with the invitation to interview.

The key thing to remember when it comes to writing proposals is to always keep the client’s needs in mind. Keep the focus on what you are going to do for the client, and how you can be an asset to their team or their specific project. Also, be sure to list relevant work experience.

What does the Upwork interview process look like?

If your cover letter manages to impress the potential client, the client will reach out via Upwork Messenger to chat a bit more about the project, related milestones and deadlines. This is known as the interview phase of the hiring process.

Read Also: Red flags for bad clients: 10 tell-tale signs from a six-figure freelancer

Your new client may also request a Zoom or video call. Just be sure not to share any personal information in the Upwork Messenger before the contract is in place. 

And do not accept off-site calls. Instead, schedule the Zoom directly from the Upwork messenger.

It is against Upwork’s Terms of Service to share email addresses and phone numbers outside of the contract. The last thing you want to do is accidentally get yourself suspended from the platform.

Request a zoom call on Upwork

The interview phase is unlikely to resemble that of traditional job interviews. In fact, I personally find, more often than not, that I ask more questions than the client.

I usually use the interview phase as more of a discovery process. I behave as though I’ve already been selected for the job and ask my prospective client a lot of questions about their project requirements and goals.

Acting as though you’ve already won the bid is also a great way to portray confidence and close the deal.

Sometimes, the client doesn’t even need a call or a video interview. If that’s the case, just ask project-related questions via the Upwork messenger.

my "received" reply to the client
A screenshot from the Upwork messenger of a client sending over an offer

How do I accept an offer on Upwork?

Once both parties are satisfied, the freelancer should ask the client to send over an offer.

The offer initiates the formal contract. 

To accept the offer you will be prompted to review the contract terms and send a message confirming acknowledgment of those terms.

I find the message portion of this interaction to be fairly redundant. But it can be a good place to include additional notes about the contract.

Most of the time, I simply respond with a “thank you” or a “received”.

For example, I will include my offer acceptance acknowledgment of that previously mentioned $150 per hour job below.

Don’t spend too much time overthinking this step.

Upwork accept offer message sample

Received

See? That’s not so complicated. 

The hard part is over, once the job has been accepted, you can get to work.

And in case you’re wondering, the job was completed successfully and the client gave me a 5-star review.

The review reads: "Morgan is the penultimate professional and has truly impressed me and my business partner. She is prompt, communicates well, delivers on time , and delivers an amazing final product for our logo and branding design. II highly recommend her services you won’t regret it!"
A screenshot of my 5-star review

Are you new to the Upwork platform? What types of jobs are you looking for? Have you received your first offer yet? Let me know in the comments below.

And don’t forget to connect with me on social media.

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