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Augmenting your team with a knowledgeable freelancer can be a game-changing move for your business, but only under one condition: you make the right hire. The reality is, diving into the freelance landscape can be a real hit or miss. If you aren’t doing your due diligence to vet your candidates, it’s very possible, maybe even probable, that you’ll end up hiring a dunce who has overhyped his or her credentials. To protect yourself from this nightmarish scenario, here are 7 telltale signs that you shouldn’t hire a particular freelancer.

1. They don’t ask questions

This is a very common theme among freelancers who only care about convincing you to hire them for the job. You give them a vague description of what you’d like them to do if hired, and before you can even fill them in on the details, they immediately say, “yes sir, I can do this right away no problem!”
While every freelancer is understandably going to want to sell themselves as a know-it-all, it’s important to differentiate the ones who are really going to be honest with you and care about their quality of work from those just looking to get paid. From personal experience, I’ve found that the freelancers who care about the details and aren’t afraid to ask questions to be the more valuable options for your business.

2. They don’t read your initial job post carefully

If you’re using a freelance website like Upwork, a super smart thing to do is to include a small “test” within your job posting to see which freelancers are really paying attention to your post. That test could be something like, “add the words ‘I have read these instructions carefully’ to your job proposal” or “attach your resume and cover letter.” If an applicant fails to even follow instructions as simple as those, it’s a pretty strong sign that they aren’t going to be able to follow the actual instructions of the job you’re looking to hire them for.

3. They claim to be experts on everything

You see a lot of generic cover letters where the freelancer claims to be an expert in 7 different fields that don’t have much in common. Chances are the freelancer is really just including any field they have any slight bit of knowledge in, but is in no way a true “expert” who knows any more than you might. Let’s also remember here that a jack of all trades is really a master of none.

When in doubt of a freelancer’s expertise, ask them a few “I gotcha” questions to test if they really know their stuff. Also, ask them to send over their resumes to see what they really have experience with. If someone claims to be an expert in marketing but has little to no actual work experience that relates to this field, then alarm bells should obviously be ringing.

4. Their rates are too good to be true

We all have this hope when we’re hiring that we’ll find that diamond in the rough who’s willing to work for super cheap while also producing super high-quality work. Sadly, that’s extremely rare to find. Most freelancers charge rates that match the quality of work they intend on producing for you. An article writer charging 1 cent per word is likely not going to be producing publishable material that’s of the same quality as the ones found on renowned sites such as this one.

5. They ask to be paid before their work is done

I’ve had many freelancers ask me either before I hired them or in the midst of completing their assignment if I could pay them prematurely. This is never a good sign, and it usually means they aren’t confident in the quality of work they produce. Freelancers who give sob stories about how they need the money as soon as possible in order to pay the rent or put food on the table never turn out to be good hires, even if they are telling you the truth.

6. They’re slow to respond

It doesn’t matter how impressive their credentials are, if a freelancer is responding to your messages the way a slug would, it’s a potentially problematic issue that shouldn’t be ignored – especially if the job you have in mind involves intensive communication between the two of you. When in doubt, ask freelancers about their availability and whether they’ll be able to respond more quickly to your inquiries in the future if hired.

7. Your instincts are telling you to stay away

At the end of the day, making the right hire, whether it’s a freelancer or just a regular employee, is all about trusting your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right or you’re not clicking with the freelancer when the two of you communicate, chances are it’ll be better to go with someone else. Just be sure not to ignore the warning signs of a bad freelancer.