Why Startups Should Thoroughly Vet Potential Freelancers

As the founder of a startup, you’re always looking for ways to optimize your operations and maximize your resources. All too often, hiring full-time staff isn’t warranted, as feast and famine cycles mean you only sometimes have the work available to keep the team busy.

That is why hiring freelancers is becoming such a popular method among startup founders, as they can use their skills and expertise on various tasks and projects for a fixed period.

However, like any form of hiring, looking for the perfect freelancer can take time and effort. If done incorrectly, you could end up with a freelancer that isn’t suited to the task.

The result? Wasted time, energy, and finances. All these outcomes send a dagger to the heart of a fledgling startup.

Perhaps the most essential part of ensuring you have the right person for the job is the candidate’s background vetting. Even for short-term positions, embedded in the hiring process should be an employee vetting process that is bulletproof.

You want to uncover the rock stars and eliminate unqualified candidates.

So let’s bore down on the freelance candidate vetting process to highlight why it’s so important, what you can expect if you don’t vet potential candidates, and uncover crucial screening techniques that will find you a pool of qualified applicants ready to take your startup to the next level.

What is vetting, and why is it important?

woman in an interview process on a laptop

Vetting is the process of thoroughly evaluating and verifying someone’s credentials, qualifications, and character before hiring them.

In the context of freelancers, this means checking their portfolio, professional references, job history, educational background, and other relevant information to ensure they are a good fit for your startup’s needs.

Vetting candidates is vital for several reasons. First and foremost, it helps ensure that you’re hiring someone with the necessary skills and experience to complete the job to a high standard.

Hiring an unqualified freelancer can result in poor-quality work, missed deadlines, and wasted resources. On the flip side, finding qualified candidates that match your job description to the letter ensures ongoing productivity and growth.

It is clear to see how dependent your hiring decision is on having a thorough vetting and review process.

Personality matters!

Additionally, ‘What the freelancer knows’ is equally important as ‘what type of personality the freelancer has.’ Screening candidates can illuminate red flags that may indicate potential problems down the line, such as a personality deficiency or a conflict of interest.

The risks of not vetting freelancers

Clock with a piece of paper that says 'deadline'

Just ask any small business or startup if they have a horror story regarding a freelancer, and they will all tell you that they wished they had completed a more robust screening process before hiring them.

The following list is just a few examples of the drama you can expect from not having a thorough vetting process.

Poor quality work and missed deadlines

One of the most obvious risks of not vetting freelancers is that you may end up with sub-par work that arrives more than a day late. Generally, this is because the freelancer doesn’t have the necessary skills to complete the job description laid out for them.

Of course, the ramifications of dealing with lousy work or late deliverables are that you and your clients, not the freelancer, suffer the consequences. When valuable contracts are on the line, having a mediocre staff member complete essential tasks is not ideal.

Breaches of confidentiality or intellectual property theft

Laptop screen that has a security breach

Some work will require startup founders to release sensitive data such as passwords, trade secrets, financial data, and customer information to freelancers.

Only qualified candidates with a proven history of safeguarding intellectual property should assume such a role.

If a freelancer doesn’t respect your confidentiality agreements or steals your intellectual property, it can have devastating consequences for your startup. Not only can it lead to serious security breaches and financial losses, but it can also damage your reputation and erode customer trust.

Judges gavel close-up

If a freelancer engages in unethical or illegal behavior while working for your startup, you may be liable for their actions.

For example, if a freelancer plagiarizes content or creates a product that infringes on someone else’s intellectual property, your startup may be sued for damages. By vetting candidates, you can minimize the risk of legal liability.

Reputational damage for the startup

As mentioned in the previous examples, the quality of your products and services is directly tied to your startup’s reputation. If a freelancer delivers poor-quality work or engages in unethical behavior, it can tarnish your startup’s brand and erode customer trust. This can have long-lasting effects on your company culture and business, making it harder to attract customers and secure funding.

For startups in the process of creating brand awareness, damage to your reputation this early on can spell doom for your ambitions. 

Scaling startups can’t afford to wait around!

If you have ambitions of scaling or are going through the motions right now, it is an anxiety-inducing process! 

By hiring a freelancer with an impeccable employment history, you can motor through more work, increasing your cash flow and ability to grow your business faster.

However, if you end up hiring someone who is failing to get the job done, this can cause bottlenecks in your plans and increase your stress levels to no end.

How to vet freelancers

woman looking at a job listing

Now that we’ve covered the risks of hiring managers not vetting freelancers, let’s discuss how to vet them effectively.

Many startup founders wear multiple hats. In this case, you need to wear your hiring manager cap to weed out unqualified candidates in search of the perfect fit.

Conduct thorough background checks

Before hiring a candidate as a freelancer, it’s crucial to conduct a thorough background check to ensure they have a clean record and no history of unethical behavior. This can include verifying their education, work experience, and professional licenses and reviewing their online social media presence.

Check references and portfolios

Interior design portfolio

One of the best ways to evaluate a freelancer’s skills and experience is by checking their references and portfolio. Ask for references from previous clients or past employers, and reach out to them to get a sense of the freelancer’s work ethic, communication skills, and ability to meet deadlines.

Additionally, you can ask freelancers to provide samples of their previous work so you can assess their quality and style.

Don’t skimp on the screening phase

Board that says 'integrity'

Remember, anyone can screenshot some work and claim it as their own.

If you really want to do your due diligence, search for their work yourself, and email previous clients to ensure you get the best possible candidate.

Ask for an assessment or sample of work

In addition to checking a freelancer’s portfolio, it’s a good idea to ask for on-the-spot samples of work that are relevant to your startup’s needs. While this can be time-consuming, it will help you assess their skills and determine whether they’re a good fit for your project.

For example, if you’re hiring a freelance writer, ask them to provide writing samples demonstrating their ability to write in the style and tone you’re looking for.

Don’t ask for too much!

Freelancers dislike having to complete tests or challenges to secure a role. The right candidate may side-step your project if you are trying to get free labor.

However, If you have a specific way of doing things, create a short test with a few variables to ascertain the best fit.

Conduct live interviews

Interview process with multiple candidates

Another way to vet candidates for freelancers is by conducting interviews to evaluate their skills, experience, and personality.

Even if the candidate is only going to be with you for a short while, putting a face to the name allows you to become familiar with what type of worker they might become. Trusting your intuition is still a significant factor in the hiring process, so if something doesn’t feel right, move on to the next option.

With that said, your interview process shouldn’t be exhaustive. Continually refer to your job description and shortlist only freelancers who meet the minimum requirements and grade on paper. From here, select the most qualified candidates to speak with you through video interviews.

Use platforms that verify freelancer skills and ratings

Many freelancing marketplaces have a process where they can verify and review freelancer skills and ratings, which can be indicative of their skill level, likelihood to complete a task, and how they interact with past clients.

While many of these platforms don’t have stringent vetting processes before they allow freelancers to join, they provide ratings and reviews from previous clients that can help you evaluate their quality and reliability.

Not all ratings are as rock-solid as they seem

lollipop sticks with smiley and angry faces stuck to them

It should be mentioned that freelancer ratings can be entirely fictional. There have been many cases of unscrupulous individuals selling five-star ratings to freelancers to boost their likelihood of getting more work.

If you feel uncomfortable hiring from platforms with a patchy record for oversight, look for an outsourcing platform that takes candidate vetting so seriously that they do it for you. This way, you can rest easy knowing that your freelancer has the skills, professionalism, and personality traits to produce exemplary work.

Quickly Hire: Outsourcing for startups the right way

Staff look at a computer

The team at Quickly Hire understand that as a startup founder, you are pressed for time. We recognize that it can be challenging to find the right freelancer and even more difficult to assess their skills correctly before they start the job.

That is why we make it our mission to do the complex parts for you. By reaching out to us, we will ensure that your startup’s needs and the job description are filled by a qualified candidate that knows their stuff. The hiring process is so much easier when all the relevant background checks are done, the interviews are complete, and the skills assessments are finished.

So, if you need stellar job candidates delivered straight to you and want to avoid the hassle of vetting employees yourself, reach out to us!


  • Alex McInnes

    Alex is Quickly Hire's content strategist and digital marketer. He's a New Zealand-born, Thailand-residing copywriter extraordinaire. Dad to two beautiful girls, Alex loves playing rugby, reading, and running with his soi dog, Effie.

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