Okay, so you’ve got an invitation, whether client-initiated or because you’ve applied to this particular job. And you and the client are now in the process of setting up the schedule for interview.
oDesk interviews can be spontaneous and informal or it can also be more structured. Interviews are usually conducted via chat, sometimes through email, or when the job requires to assess the quality of your voice or language proficiency, client would conduct a voice interview. It’s convenient to have a headset with microphone, if your computer doesn’t have these already. Web cam isn’t really necessary, although I have encountered a client who required me to turn on the web cam while I was taking their required tests (both inside and outside oDesk), perhaps to make sure that I’m the one taking the tests and not somebody else.
Typically, the client would ask for your contact details, especially accounts in any of Yahoo, MSN, Google or Skype so it’s best if you have most of their messenger clients, if not all, installed on your computer and that you have accounts with them.
And because online freelancing is on a global scope, you must also consider the time difference before you agree to any interview schedule. Try to choose a schedule favorable to both the client and you. But if you can handle an interview at any time of the day (or night), this shouldn’t be a problem.
As I’ve said, oDesk interview is normally just a casual, chatty type of conversation. Expect the usual interview questions to come up like ‘what are your strengths and weaknesses?’, ‘what skills do you have that you can contribute to the project?’, ‘have you got work experiences related to this field?’, etc. Questions about your availability (especially if the job is for a full-time position), internet connection reliability, softwares and applications compatibility are most likely to be asked also.
I guess, the best way to go about on an oDesk interview is to be honest and confident. If you know a particular skill or application only theoretically, just tell the client. But of course, you can back it up by saying ‘I’m a fast learner and I love to learn new things’.
Some client would prepare a set of tasks to perform during the interview to test your proficiency (which sometimes translate to speed, accuracy and the quality of the work). Others look for some special abilities in analysis, decision-making, planning and other cognitive functioning.
Truth is, what goes on in an oDesk interview will largely depend on the nature of the job that you applied for and on the skills that you can provide. And as one of my clients once told me, ‘Over-deliveries is better than over-promises’, so it’s always smarter to be honest on what you can deliver than to risk on a fib.
If this will be your first online job, then you may have the luxury of accommodating most of his requirements, like if he prefers that you work on specific hours or time of the day. But if you’ve got other job commitments already, make sure that your schedule is clear to him: what time you are available to work and how many hours you can dedicate to the project.
Interview is also the time to talk about payment schemes, but this is usually done towards the end of the conversation. For a guaranteed payment method, oDesk recommends the hourly-based jobs. This is ideal and benefits both client and provider: clients get billed only for the hours that the provider worked on and provider is guaranteed payment for every hour that he rendered work. However, not all jobs are suitable for hourly accounting and in this case, clients would rather pay on a fixed-rate basis. You can sort which is the better payment method during the interview.
Another important thing that should be discussed is your rate. Although you have already placed your bid when you answered the interview invitation, some clients will still ask you for your rate. If this is the case, then you may adjust your original bid to what you think is a fair rate. Consider the hours of work, the nature of the job and if the project is requiring additional skills that are initially not included in the project description. Once, I’ve encountered a client who laid out a different set of job responsibilities (more technical) during interview than the one he had posted in oDesk. It’s okay to make adjustment in such situations as long as it is reasonable and you can justify it.
Interview is over, now what?
Often, the client will let you know if you got the job before the interview ends. If not, he’s probably going to compare the interviews of the other candidates and/or assess the results of his ‘sample tasks’ before officially hiring a provider. If he hires you via oDesk, a notification will be sent to your account.
Don’t sweat it out
In any interviews, impressions are important (at least oDesk takes out the burden of dressing up). But as long as you know what to say and have a lucid understanding of the job, you should be okay. Overall, honesty and confidence are two of the best assests that you can, and should definitely showcase during an oDesk interview.
Fly high freelancers!