Elance Blog

How To Screen And Interview Providers

Some job postings can attract a large number of proposals from qualified providers.  Receiving a lot of proposals is a great "problem" to have, but it can still feel overwhelming – so here are some tips to help you efficiently review, manage, and decide which provider is right for you.

Perform a first pass review
Rate your first-pass "keepers"
Ask questions
Consider more than just the answers
Fine tune reviews & make one last pass

Perform a first pass review.  If you can, try not to wait until the acceptance period is over to take a look at all the proposals you receive. Go to the workroom, check them out every day or so, and use your first look as a quick screening tool. 

When you read each proposal, check to see if it is:


  • Individualized.  If your job description included lots of detail – and it should – see if the provider responds directly to your specific needs.  A generic-sounding proposal should raise a red flag; a proposal that covers your requirements, in detail, is a good sign.
  • Within your parameters.  If you state you need the work done in seven days, for example, and the provider specifies one month for delivery, they're not a good fit – unless the provider gives reasons for a longer time frame that you feel make sense.  The same is true for the bid amount – if your budget is between $1,000 and $5,000, and a provider bids way outside of the range (low or high), you're probably not interested… unless their description causes you to view your budget constraints differently.
  • Responsive to your needs.  If you posted a project for web design and the provider suggests setting up a social networking site, they're not a good fit – unless, of course, they also provide great reasons why a social networking site better fits your needs.

Rate your first-pass "keepers."  Use the "rate this" feature and your first-pass criteria to help you identify the proposals you're initially interested in.  Many experienced employers rate proposals that clearly don't meet their needs as a 1, proposals they're unsure about as a 3 and proposals that have made a great first impression as a 5.  You can always change ratings later, but this is a good way to help you group proposals by your level of interest.

Rating as you go also helps you stay on top of the proposal selection process.  You may notice an immediate red flag in a proposal.  Don't assume you'll notice that issue on a second pass – rate it now.  The same is true for outstanding proposals – if they impress you, rate them.  And you may have three of four proposals that intrigue you… but you're just not sure about.  Identifying them as "3" proposals helps you review them as a group. 

Finally, rating during your first pass will save you time later in the process.

Ask questions.  While there is no need to ask questions of proposals that clearly do not meet your needs, a good proposal may still require clarification.  You can ask questions online or schedule an interview.

Providers are generally happy to answer your questions: they are just as interested in a good match. Communicate with the candidates, using the Private Message Board, Chat, or Call features – whichever is most convenient for you - to clarify issues like:


  • Timeline.  Make sure you know exactly what you'll get and when.
  • Communication.  You may want daily updates, while for most projects, weekly status reports might be sufficient.  Whatever your communication and feedback requirements, make sure you and the provider agree.
  • Deliverables.  Make sure you'll receive the end product in a usable format.  If you are hiring a writer and you want Word 2007 documents, be sure the provider can and will deliver files in that version.

Consider more than just the answers to your questions.  How quickly do providers respond?  Do they answer your questions completely?  Can you tell they've taken the time to consider your questions and answer thoughtfully?  Bottom line:  Do they feel like someone you want to work with?

Keep in mind the speed of response can be deceiving.  A provider on the other side of the country or the world may not respond for 10 to 12 hours due to time differences.  (Need a handy time zone guide? Try World Time Zone.) 

On most projects, the key is to know when you can normally expect a response.  If you send a PMB at 8 am and you know in advance the provider won't respond until 5 pm, that may be perfectly acceptable. 

Fine tune your reviews.  As you interview providers, use those interactions to help you fine-tune your reviews.  And evaluate bids that arrived early against new bids you receive.  Even though you may have more than a handful of bids, your ratings will keep your short list to a manageable level.

Make one last quick pass.  Once you have a short list of three to four providers, take a moment and review all your proposals.  Make sure you didn't miss a diamond in what you previously considered the rough.

When you're done, you'll have three to four proposals and providers you're really interested in. 

But how can you narrow down your list further and choose the perfect match?  If you have already interviewed the candidates, evaluated their proposals and their profiles and still are undecided, you can ask to speak with a reference.  For tips on quickly evaluating provider feedback, skills, and portfolios, check out our next article:  "How to Review a Provider Profile".

Finally, always ask your provider to set up milestones on Elance so you can track progress and release payment as work gets done.




This is not bad, but it would have been helpful if you'd included for buyers:

  • How and why to choose or not choose status reports
  • How to default out of the 14-day default (and why you might want to)
  • How and why to close bidding early

And -- most important -- HOW TO MAKE SURE YOU'VE POSTED A PROJECT in the way that will get the best elance providers to bid on it.

This is an interesting marketing angle for the elance blog, but it skips over several items that buyers really need help with, items that buyers have been asking us providers about. I'd suggest you try one on "Top Ten Tips" for posting your project on elance ... tips that will help you find the best provider here.

I can do this work

Which work?do you have place in Saudi Arabia for factory?

No i do not have SA factory. I have tried but and Austrade tried to help but the culture was hard to understand, if you can do SA i will consider it.

looking for a home data entry job

Hi. Are you interested to sell a machine to your friends, relatives, families, and to people around you.? you can do over price and i will approved it once you have a prospect kindly inform me.

i will like to join in this group.

Being a service provider, I always try to address each project with a unique proposal, informing my client why I am well suited to complete the job and try my best to sound enthusiastic about the project, as I believe an enthusiastic proposal sounds more responsive than generic ones. + My portfolio speaks for itself.

I've also had my experience as a service buyer, and personally don't like providers who copy and paste generic proposals, you can spot them easily, as some don't even address your questions etc. + Some service providers place bids with no amount, I still don't get those providers who do that. But anyway, each person has their own way of winning proposals.

Let’s not forget being one of the most talented designers, I personally am confident in my own ability and this shows in my proposals and when you see my portfolio, you will be amazed at my work and feedback rating.

My advice for service providers is : working with individual providers like myself, will be more personal than working with a firm. As an individual provider, you work with me directly and you are in good hands. I personally go out my way to keep my clients informed and stay in touch with them on a daily basis if I have to.

While I was a service buyer, I found it worrying when I email my service provider, then they only get back to me in a few days to a week. I really don't like that. So I'm grateful elance has introduced status report, very cool.

For those of you who need to work with one of the best designers in Elance, give me a shout. I love working closely with you on your project and I normally go out my way to please my clients. That’s my secret and it works, giving 150% works and your service buyer is more likely to come back to you as they will be pleased with your response time and quality of work.

I just completed a really fun project, These guys needed an iphone app design. I knew what they wanted and I delivered them one design sample & nailed the brief with my first design. I guess I managed to pull that off, because I have over 7 years experience now and can understand my clients needs. Practise makes perfect, for those who are starting out in this business. Be prepared to learn on each project you work on and before you know it, you may also be nailing the brief first time round. Good luck to those who are new here. And to those who haven’t heard of me, my name is Guy Tasker, the sole creator of 2cooldesign.co.za and I use elance as my tool to get clients and receive money and work with people from all around the world. I love my job and I am really grateful elance was invented. I always wanted to be an elance guru, ever since I heard of them, which was in about 2002 on a TV channel about youngsters making it big in the world, its taken me some time to get to where I am now. Stay confident and believe in yourself is my advice. Keep it cool. regards Guy

Hi I'm looking for a designer to take on small projects. We are a fitness studio with a lot of events. I promote a lot with Flyers and need someone who can create a flyer quickly that will draw someone's attention. Would you consider small projects like these?

No job is small. Each job has its own uniqueness and that is what I try and deliver in my job to my clients. In my view, every client is looking for that something special that will stand out for his/her business and we try to identify that uniqueness and deliver things tailor-made. I am in the business of email marketing, website designing, market research, business strategy and marketing strategy. My objective is to be a one stop shop for all marketing requirements of my client and till now I have been able to do it successfully with my clients. If you have any related job, however small or however big, I have the right teams to cater to them. My scope has been increasing ever since I started off and that has been very encouraging. I started as a freelancer recently although I have 11 years of industry experience to my credit. So basically I have worked with some of the biggest, smallest and yet to start startups. Good luck to you to get the right freelancer for your job postings!

I am your brochure designer ready for you to send me work! Please check out my portfolio BROCHURES and other sections. I am detail oriented and have a nice, clean style. I will work til project is done, with quick turnaround. Good communicator who will never leave you stranded with no communication. The customer is king!

I just completed my first job and am new to ELANCE. This site is fantastic!

Hi all, Here is a emergent project needed to be translated from English to Portuguese (Brazil) Word count: about 2600 words, Tools: Trados 2007 Deadline: 6:00 PM, May 6 th,2013(GMT+8) Requirements: 1. seasoned experience on English to Portuguese (Brazil) translation 2 accurate and punctual. If interested in it, please..

This is a good generic reply but most of the time you're still in the dark about whether the provider can really meet the project demands. Unlike the face-to-face evaluations where body language and 'feelings about the person' come into play, this is much harder to do. It's also more difficult to make adjustments to the project, something that often happens and which in a 'normal situation' can be dealt with a quick meeting.
Further, it is very difficult to provide direction and make minor tweaks and changes, to a design for example, through email. Oftentimes, these little things -- which can make the difference between a good design and a superb one -- are accomplished when you sit with the designer and tweak together.
Outsourcing is a great tool but it takes a lot more than just a simple 1, 2, 3, as many suggest. It takes a lot of time .... and trust.

First thing...GO with your gut. I know this sounds crazy, but don't dismiss it. If you have a bad feeling about one provider over another, it is best to keep that in the back of your mind. I have had some really fantastic experiences with providers, I ask as many questions as I can and I don't worry about pre-qualifying them. But, one bad experience has caused me to reevaluate my decision making. I recently picked a provider and have had zero communication from this provider. I'm getting close to deadline and nothing has been posted or submitted. I had a bad feeling in the beginning and should have gone with the slightly higher bidder, with less feedback. I chose this provider on another project and it worked out excellent. So don't disregard what you feel about a provider, it could be the difference between a good and bad experience. Thanks, RD author, Hot on the Range

I just had the same exact experience. This is why I am here reading. The hardest part of my job is finding the right people who are professional and reliable. I am now reviewing more profiles and am very cautious to not make the same mistake ever again!

i can do it

I'm not too keen on going with your gut. Guts are primarily designed for digesting food and converting into energy and useable nutrition. Brains on the other hand are for critical thinking.

Results and reviews speak louder to me. That's hard for the new providers to break through but I've found providers just responding to, repeating and clarifying the job posting gets instant trust from me. Those are the people I will work with.

I guess the point of 'gut' is to absorb. This permission to allow all information to be ingested and digested goes towards making a broad decision, not a specific one. But it narrows things down. I would take this as an entrepreneur meaning, not literally.
In this way an overview of providers can be quickly reduced down to those which resonate most with your sense of requirements being fulfiled. The 'brain' aspect I feel is always in play as we are not a divisible organism.. Thinking about the requirments is always a pre-requisite anyway to the decision.
Hope this helps...AL

As a buyer on elance, my gut feeling about a provider has always served me well. The few times that I didn't pay attention to my intuition, were the few times that I had miserable experiences. I also always check the rating, the repeat business percentage, and read the job history reviews. I prefer it when providers list their capabilities rather than writing a paragraph. Tested "Skills" (not self-rated) and "Groups" are other things that help me determine who to award a job to. But, first and foremost I am guided by my gut feeling.

Hi Astropeg! I am Rodrigo Pila with 26 jobs and I have overall rating of 5 stars. Can I work with you? What do you need?



You go girl! Women's gut instincts are always right; we just have to recognize that. Good luck!


This is me salma khan from Pakistan Islamabad.
i am looking for job position data entry and skin care i am expert both of these.
if anyone one job of them available then let me know Inshallah i will do well..
Thank you .

I accept you

have you experience in classified posting on craigslist.org

anyone out there want to send me some work to knit and crochet and i can send it to you when completed or if anyone who is wanting to do the work for me that is fine too and you will have to send it to me too. anyone of these would work for me but i perfer the work requesting as i have a lot of time on my hands now. and have been doing knitting and crocheting most of my adult life. so this is something that i can make money with.

If you are a Client looking to build or redesign your website for desktop, tablet, and mobile platforms; I can help you build a site that all of your customers can access easily. My name is John Locke, and I specialize in Responsive Web Design. What this means is that your website is built once, but using HTML, CSS, and a little Javascript, your website layout is tailored to whatever device is accessing your site. I normally use the Wordpress platform, which I recommend for Clients wanting to update their content often, but I can also hand code as well.

Keep me in mind when looking at Contractors. I pride myself on open communication with my Clients.

John J. Locke
Lockedown Design

What is your fee? And do you have a portfolio? I'd like to see and verify some of the projects you've worked on and completed.

Please have a look at the job posting for web design just posted today

Hey, This is me Halima Rani from Lahore Pakistan,
i am looking for job position data entry and just knowledge
if anyone one job of them available then let me know Inshallah i will do well..
Thank you .

Hey, This is me Halima Rani from Lahore Pakistan,
i am looking for job position data entry and just knowledge
if anyone one job of them available then let me know Inshallah i will do well..
Thank you .

I am interested in working in the field of Education. If any body need the services please contact me

I am Ready ..

I have outsourced over 100 different providers to this date, and have to agree that feeling works, but not something to rely on all the time - it can fail you every now and then. This is especially true for "web development projects" - there are a lot more crucial steps you need to do to find the right candidate, than the basic interview and screening process, as described in this offshore outsourcing article.

Even though my outsourcing experience has been generally satisfying on Elance, I've had one really horrible project, that ended up wasting a lot of time, effort and money. So the verdict: slow to hire, fast to fire!

I currently have a very detailed job description and I am finding that most proposals do not meet the specific requirements.
In fact, I believe most ignore the information completely knowing that they don't have the necessary tools and skills to do the work, but submit a generic proposal anyway.
It's a very frustrating and time wasting experience trying to find a competent contractor on Elance.

your job is good and enjoyment and thank you for giving this .
these jobs are interesting ...........................

I am looking job on seo,smm and sem. I am expert on those site.

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Nitin Sakariya:


OK I want you to go in my client profile because I will give you a job. You will start as blog commenter. Job is easy, as long as you can write good english, that's it. Apply here at
https://www.elance.com/job/40843956/proposals?eventId=164224114 I will let you start at 3/ hour and leave the end date open or don't write anything because if you do good I will let you continue to work with me continuesly. ok?


Those who are interested to be a freelancer, please do not hesitate to contact me or message me at my email adres esprint_wendy@yahoo.com.. I am in an industry who distributed a large format printers nationwide or worldwide.

I am Amol Kshirsagar from India, looking for a job in data entry field. I am having a good knowledge of copy paste jobs.
So if there is any jobs & openings then please do let me know. I will do well.
Thank you.

i want home data entry work

I need to a blog commenter and the job is easy, firt you must be with no grammar lapses and second is you will just make a short comment like 3 sentences mid sized comment of what you understand in the blog story. You don't have to get stuck, spend 1 minute then write your comment. If you want this job please apply here> https://www.elance.com/job/40602456/proposals


I am looking for programming

I am looking for a writer or blog commenter.

i am craigslist expert.

this is my skype id


i am looking for home data entry jobs ,and words writing jobs.i have a quick writing speed.so dont hasitate in contacting me+923129189457