Skip to Content

8 Tips to Prepare for Your Toptal Freelance Interview

To join Toptal, you must pass through their rigorous screening process, including a live interview. Here are some tips to prepare Toptal freelance interview.

The freelance world is expanding at an astonishing rate. With more and more people pouring in, the talent is brimming. Most beginners research before jumping into the world of freelance work.

🚀 Kickstart Your Freelance Journey! 🚀

Discover the best platforms handpicked by our experts to supercharge your freelance career. Trusted by professionals worldwide, these platforms are essential for every freelancer.

FlexJobs - Quality Over Quantity!
Dive into a curated list of premium remote and flexible jobs. No scams, just genuine opportunities.
Explore FlexJobs
SolidGigs - Only the Best Gigs, Daily!
Say goodbye to endless job hunting. Receive top 1% of freelance jobs in your inbox.
Discover SolidGigs
ZipRecruiter - Jobs Tailored for You!
With advanced AI, get matched with jobs that resonate with your skills and passion.
Join ZipRecruiter
TopTal - Where Talent Meets Opportunity!
Connect with global clients, showcase your portfolio, and bid on projects that align with your expertise.
Start on TopTal

In parallel, many freelancing websites are emerging to treat the world with new freelancers’ talent. Some renowned ones are Upwork, Freelancer, and Fiverr, among others.

However, when the talk is about the creme of the freelancing community, you need to head over to Toptal. In this Toptal review, we will discuss Toptal, its screening process, and how you can prepare for your Toptal freelance interview.

What is Toptal?

Toptal Logo

Like all freelancing websites, Toptal is a platform and a marketplace where clients can find and work with freelancers. The platform provides a network of software developers, designers, finance experts, product managers, and project managers from around the globe.

However, what sets Toptal apart from the significant rest is its claim to hire the top 3% of freelancing talent. To make it a reality, Toptal has placed a pretty tough screening process.

Interestingly, other top platforms, such as CrossOver and BairesDev, also claim to have the best of the best freelancers from around the globe.

Toptal - A Global Community Of Experts

But, people who’ve applied to them, and in Toptal, often say that Toptal pushes you over the edge like none other. Once you are a newbie and know other platforms such as Upwork, you will ask which one is better: Toptal or Upwork? It boils down to what the person has to offer and learning to upgrade skills to be marketable to clients.

There are also other freelancing platforms, such as Fiverr and Freelancer. You can not determine which is better not unless you have tried it yourself. So what exactly is part of the Toptal freelance interview? Let’s have a look.

Toptal Freelance Interview: The Basics

Toptal’s screening process is designed to thoroughly measure and test your communication, personality, professionalism, expertise, and skills aspects of what clients are looking for in developers.

The entire process takes anything from about two to five weeks. It is divided into four steps, which are as follows:

Language and Personality

It is the first of four phases of the Toptal freelance talent interview, a way to screen and hire freelancers at the right rate. It is a semi-formal Skype interview where you chat with the interviewer.

Toptal Freelance Interview Via Skype

Your language and communication skills are analyzed, particularly your English skills. They judge how passionate you are about being part of Toptal and the motivation behind this application.

They tell you about the company and cater to any questions you might have. You’re asked about your hourly rates and past experiences. While this one’s easy, Toptal claims that only 26.4% of total applicants clear this stage.

In-Depth Skill Review

Skill Review

In this second phase, you are given a link where you need to fill in three algorithmic challenges. The time limit for this is an hour and a half.

They assess your technical skills and problem-solving ability in the codility test. Time is a crucial factor, and questions range in difficulty level.

It is why many candidates consider this phase to be the most challenging of all. According to Toptal, only 7.4% of applicants with exceptional skills go past this stage, achieving success in Toptal.

Live Screening

Live Screening

It is the third step, where you and the screener share a screen, and you’re asked to solve two coding problems, each with a time limit of around 15-20 minutes.

The screener also asks you initially to describe your solutions to the second phase test. What they’re assessing in this stage is your problem-solving abilities, niche-related skills, communication skills, and the depth of your experience.

Your onscreen confidence while solving the questions live is observed. About 3.6% of the total applicants go clear this stage.

Test Projects

Test Projects

When you’ve crossed the first three steps, and the interviewers gain confidence in your skills, they test your real-life application skills by assigning you a test project.

For the test projects, you get around two to three weeks, for which you set the deadline yourself as a freelancer. You are required to work on the test project like you would perform every day at work.

The applicant’s pass percentage goes from 3.6 to 3.2 here. After completing the test project, you have your final discussion with the team to finalize your hourly rate and availability. It is where Toptal announced the much-awaited ‘Welcome to Toptal’ message.

Continued Excellence

Toptal works to maintain its integrity and professionalism. The work of all clients and freelancers is tracked for excellence.

This way, only 3% of the total applicants actually stay on board with Toptal.

Toptal World Class Talents

Through this rigorous screening and checking procedure, Toptal has maintained its status as a top-quality freelance marketplace. The company takes the responsibility of vetting freelancers.

  • For clients, it is a very appealing budget to bid. They’re only looking for top-quality deliverables – without the hassle of going through millions of proposals to find the right individual.
  • For freelancers, however, this entire process can get a bit intimidating. Even at your best, you can’t claim to be among the top 3% of freelancers worldwide – not until you’re Toptal matched.

So, when you decide to take the stab and prepare for the Toptal system freelance first interview, you’re in need of some valuable tips and tricks to cut the score.

And, even if you don’t, it’s always worth a try. After all, there’s no such thing as leaving without learning. Nevertheless, if you adhere to the following Toptal freelance interview tips, you will definitely succeed.

What are some common Toptal interview questions?

Common Toptal Interview Questions
  1. Tell us about the most recent project you contributed to. Was it finalized? Specify how you contributed to its success and managed any problems that arose.
  2. Describe a situation when you had to make an important decision during execution. What took place? How did you manage it?
  3. How would you explain APIs to non-technical clients?
  4. Which programming languages do you utilize? Which three are you most familiar with or recommend?
  5. What are the most critical factors to consider while examining another team member’s code?
  6. What, if any, experience have you had as a part of an agile software development process?
  7. Here is a brief programming task for you. Could you try your hand at it?

How to Prepare for Toptal Freelance Interview? 8 Vital Tips

Make no mistake, as these tips are coming straight from the horse’s mouth. Let’s delve in!

Polish Your Communication Skills

It is the first baseline required to qualify for the next round. They’ll put to the test your English communication skills.

Polish Communication Skills

You don’t need to be a native or sound like one to qualify for this one. You should be able to present your ideas and thoughts clearly and effectively – such that it gets across the board effortlessly.

If you leave your interviewers guessing about what you meant, that’s a straight loss. Furthermore, it would help to talk at a balanced pace. Too rushed, and you appear nervous. Too slow, and you sound underconfident.

Remember, they are assessing your personality, too. A few ways to improve your English communication skills are by watching interviews online.

You could also practice your communication skills on your own. Sit in front of a mirror and talk, and talk, and talk. Or read aloud, if that helps you. It applies more to those lacking fluency in English.

Have a Calculated Hourly Rate

Of course, when you’re applying at a top freelance marketplace like Toptal, you walk in with an estimation of your per-hour charges. But without realizing it, you may be charging too low or too high.

The former leaves you exploited, while the latter leaves you client-less. None of us want either, do we? For this purpose, we recommend using Hourly Rate Calculator. We created this calculator because most freelancers have a tough time deciding on the optimum rate they should charge.

This calculator works by entering your desired annual income, software or license expense, platform fees, and various necessary inputs.

The calculator then suggests an optimum hourly rate that you should charge as a freelancer. Every freelancer should remember to know their worth in bidding, making sure that the rate agreed upon can pay the internet and electricity bills which are the primary requirements in working from home.

Research Well

Gaining know-how on the entire screening process and data structures is crucial. It will make you aware of the areas you need to work on and places where you’re doing great.

A good place of research would be watching and reading stories of people who made it to Toptal. For the success stories, see how they achieved it. For those who didn’t make it, capitalize on their learnings.

We’d recommend that you go through the following:

By gaining knowledge about Toptal interview questions, you will learn the essentials of applying with confidence. The more you prepare, the more confident you’ll be when you walk in.

Furthermore, researching the application process of other top companies will also help.

Know Your Tech

As you prepare for your Toptal freelance interview, remember that your technical skills must be up-to-date and well-practiced.

If you’re applying as a software developer, you need to be really good with algorithms. Now, you might think it’s not something you practice on the job.

That’s true, but to get into any big company, especially tech-related, you need this skill. Plan your practice. Set aside a couple of hours every day just for practice.

Believe it, you’ll be proud of yourself later. A recommended resource is AlgoExpert. It offers a complete package to prepare for such interviews, including practice algorithm problems.

Codility Logo

You can also practice a lot of Codility tests. These will help you be more prepared for what’s coming, especially in the second and fourth stages of the interview process. HackerRank and Interview Cake are other great resources where you can practice coding.

Apart from this, you can and should get the study book Cracking the Coding Interview. It will help you get a good hang of the entire thing.

Don’t Let Time Constraint Get the Best of You

The thing about interviews with top-notch institutions is the pressure. When you’ve got limited time and a lot to deliver, it is natural to feel your nerves on edge. However, always try not to let the time constraint get the best of you.

Use time as a motivation and a check rather than as a quality dictator. Repeat mantras to yourself, such as: ‘I can do this,’ ‘I’ve got this,’ and you will see that you will indeed get it. Practicing timed problems beforehand will also help you flex your time management muscle.

Read All Instruction Carefully and Be Ethical

It is another obvious one. But let’s get across the brevity of it. There have been instances where people have been banned from the Toptal freelance interview due to not following instructions properly. It’s crucial to read all the instructions carefully and not rush through. Be as ethical as you possibly can.

In the second stage, using Google is prohibited. Remain mindful of that. Of course, there’s always the chance that you might not get caught, as is the case with some. But, if the odds fall against you, your months’ worth of effort can go down the hill.

Hence, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Apply to CrossOver to Sharpen Your Skills

If you aren’t already part of CrossOver, apply for it while you apply for Toptal. Reason? CrossOver comes close to Toptal in terms of quality, integrity, and admission difficulty.

As you go through a similar interview process and screening and receive the ‘Welcome to CrossOver’ message, you will feel your confidence going up in heaps. That’s how the human psyche works. Understand it and play it to your advantage.

The entire experience will also reduce the fear and intimidation you feel trying to make it to the top 3%. Because while CrossOver doesn’t claim the top few percent, it does possess top-notch talent. You and I both know it.

Believe in Yourself

Believing in yourself and your abilities has the potential to make you reach heights you didn’t know existed.

After all, remember that famous quotation by Lao Tzu?

Watch your thoughts; they become your words;

watch your words; they become your actions;

watch your actions; they become your habits;

watch your habits; they become your character;

watch your character; it becomes your destiny.

Thus, if success is what you’re after, make sure to give yourself positive encouragement and reinforcements mentally all along.

Do not underestimate your skills. Be aware of your failings and work on them. As for your strengths and abilities, own them, be proud of them and show them off with confidence throughout the screening process and beyond.

See Related: Best Freelancing Tips for Beginners

Tips for Enhancing Technical Abilities for the Toptal interview

  1. The more you read, the more you will comprehend technology. Technical books are the best approach to improving your programming and networking skills.
  2. Read some comprehensive online tutorials. You can discover effective online tutorials that will educate you on performing stuff like Photoshop, javascript, PHP, Excel, and so on.
  3. Spend time with individuals who are technically savvy. It is critical to grasp how things function. And it will help you become a better communicator if they can develop solutions for their own difficulties while working on yours!
  4. Technical publications are an excellent method to remain current on technological advancements. These volumes also contain talent listings and information about the industry!
  5. Taking classes is an effective technique to expand your knowledge and boost your portfolio. Why would you want to stay at your work for years without receiving any training? It will enhance the opportunities accessible in today’s competitive market and provide you with a competitive advantage by brushing up on skills or learning new approaches!
  6. Make an attempt at making a website.
  7. Try building your own PC if you want to improve your hardware skills.
  8. Make advantage of various software. Learn coding languages. Programming is the process of instructing a computer to perform a specific task.

Is Toptal Genuinely Worth It?

Toptal Trusted Brands And Partners

You’ve gone over the application process. You’ve read how to best prepare for your Toptal freelance interview. At this point, you might wonder, “Is Toptal genuinely worth all the hassle?” For some freelancers, Toptal is the dream; they believe it’s the best thing that can happen to a freelancer, while others think differently.

However, one thing that Toptal guarantees more than anything is learning – Immense, intense learning. All those months of practice, research, and preparation will enable you to reach new personal heights.

You might land among the acclaimed ‘top 3% of global freelancing talent,’ but even if you don’t, you’d definitely have landed at the top version of yourself. So, take the shot and test the waters. We wish you good luck!


What can I expect from the Toptal screening procedure?

Toptal talent is identified by their screening procedure, which assesses subject matter competence, professionalism, and communication abilities. The entire screening procedure usually takes a few weeks.

What is the significance of the screening process?

Clients want to know that the freelancers they hire are skilled and dependable. Their screening procedure is meant to ensure that their freelance community consists of experienced specialists in their fields who we would be happy to place in front of paying clients. Once you’ve passed the screening procedure and become a member, you’ll have access to intriguing opportunities with top clients at the rate you choose.

How long does it take to complete the screening process?

The screening procedure is divided into stages and usually takes a few weeks to complete. After you’ve submitted your application, they’ll walk you through the rest of the screening process and onboard you to the Toptal network.

Can I begin the screening process while continuing to work on other projects?

Yes! When you’re ready, you can start the screening process. After passing the screening process and being admitted into the network, you’ll have access to active opportunities that match your skill set. You can begin working with Toptal network clients whenever you have time.

What exactly is a TopTal technical interview?

Toptal Technical Interview is a platform that assists technical interviewers in finding the finest candidates for available positions. It provides several services, including a job board, a candidate database, and a technical assessment tool. The portal assists interviewers in finding the top technical candidates or project managers by providing a number of services and resources.

How can I get through the TopTal technical interview?

There is no one-size-fits-all response to this query because the best technique to pass a TopTal network technical interview varies depending on the interviewer and technical question. However, some pointers to help you master a TopTal technical interview are provided above.

How can I know if I’m qualified to join the Toptal network?

Toptal freelancers with at least 2-3 years of expertise, strong communication skills, and the ability to ramp up on projects are often successful. Members of the Toptal network who thrive demonstrate they are adaptive, proactive, reliable, and capable of working well in teams and alone. They are constantly seeking ways to improve their talents. If you’re a developer, you can use their fast Talent Assessment to see if you have enough experience to start your application.

What if I don’t pass the screening on my first attempt?

Applicants who did not pass on their first attempt are urged to retake the screening procedure. Toptal requires a waiting period between attempts. Remember that the Toptal network expects applicants to conduct themselves professionally to achieve high-quality engagement with their clients. They want you to treat the screening process with the same seriousness as you would any other interview.

Related Articles