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Avi Aryan
Avi Aryan

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The Toptal hiring process for freelancers


First posted on Dev Letters

I wrote this Medium post of wanting to become a digital nomad. There I discussed why the digital nomad lifestyle appealed to me and how I wanted to accomplish this dream of mine.

Wannabe Digital Nomad

The last step in that article was getting selected into Toptal. Mind you, I hadn't applied to Toptal back then and just thought that if I could do it, it would make my dream of becoming a nomad so much more possible.

And I did get selected a few months later.

Months passed and I haven't started nomading yet (for personal reasons). But in this last few months, many people have asked me to share my experiences on applying to Toptal. So here I am with a walkthrough of the same.

Round 0: Applying

To get yourself considered for a freelancer position at Toptal, you will have to submit your profile to them. You can do so by going to their website and using the "APPLY AS A FREELANCER" option.

I would very much appreciate if you use my referral link to do so.

Round 1: Screening call

This is the first step of the screening process. In this round, you will be interview by a recruiter.

It will be more or less like a normal interview, just answer the questions to the best of your abilities.

One thing though, if you are a non-native English speaker, it would be advisable to work on your speaking skills first. That is, be sure that you speak clear and correct English. Practicing English speaking in your daily life for a few days should do the trick.

Round 2 and 3

Due to certain NDA, I can't disclose the exact details of this phase.

But it was a challenging round which tested my problem-solving skills, especially on the speed and efficiency parameters.

If you want to prepare for it, I would recommend practicing some code based problem-solving. A recent letter I wrote could help here.

Getting started with Competitive Programming - Build your algorithm skills

Round 4: The Project

This is probably the easiest of all rounds. Basically, you need to do a project in the primary tech domain of yours. The only catch here is that the end product you make should be production-ready.

What do we mean by this? I mean it should have ...

  • Proper input validation (example, only take email in email fields)
  • No UX glitches (example, clicking on user photo should open their profile)
  • Optimized code (example, sending an email should not happen on the main thread)
  • Neat design (example, the text should not overflow and should be readable at all places)

You are given a fixed amount of time to do this task. Use this time properly and give this project your best effort.

It is very easy to miss the things I just mentioned. Test your project many times to make sure it is perfect.

This is the final round. Get through it and you will be able to work as a freelancer through Toptal.

What happens if I fail in a round?

As an applicant, you should know this.

Failing in a round will put a temporary hold on your application process. The hold duration can be anything from few months to a few years so keep this in mind before applying.


Toptal is one of the best things that can happen to a freelancer. If freelancing is something you fancy, consider applying to Toptal.

And if you found this letter helpful, please use my referral link to apply.


Top comments (11)

alexvovk profile image

Thank you for sharing these insights.
I have few questions:
How long does each round take to complete?
How much time do you have to complete the test project?
Do you have a set of projects to chose from for the test project?

aviaryan profile image
Avi Aryan

Except for the last round, all rounds are small (as you can already guess from reading about them) and take around 1hr. For the test project, you have a few days. I can't give the details as it is under NDA. Also, I can't answer the last question.

alexvovk profile image

Can you tell a little more about setting your rates and getting paid?
I am also interested to know the following:

  1. Do you set you hourly, weekly and monthly rates or does TopTal sets this?
  2. How often are you getting paid?
  3. Do they ensure that you have enough work every month?
  4. What happens when at some point in time you are not available to work on a real project for a TopTal's client?
  5. How do you find a client after passing the interview at TopTal?
  6. Do they have a rating systems for clients and freelancers to rate each other?

I understand that you might not be able to answer all of these questions and will appreciate any information that you can share violating NDA.

Thread Thread
aviaryan profile image
Avi Aryan • Edited
  1. Hourly rate, I set it
  2. More frequent than once in a month
  3. It depends on you and your rates.
  4. They are very generous with breaks and vacations.
  5. There is a job board where you can apply. Clients can directly hire you from the website as well I think.
  6. I think they have. I don't know.
shane325 profile image
Shane Barry

Thanks for the write up. Have you found paid work through Toptal? If so, can you speak a bit about it?

aviaryan profile image
Avi Aryan

Yes, I have. I think Toptal is great to get started as a freelancer. Since the company takes the liabilities in freelancing to itself, it provides a safe environment for both the freelancer and the client.
However, I think it does take a considerable rate cut. So, maybe when you are an established freelancer, taking clients independently is a good choice.

hubba_do profile image
hubbado • Edited

Hey Avi, have you tried hubbado? We offer a lot of the same work as toptal, remote included, but with an added £1000 incentive for client referrals. There's also a screening process with an expert working in the same field. Check it out:

mdsardar profile image
Mohammed Sardar

Hi Avi,

Can you brief, how the tasks will be allocated by Client ? Does the whole project will come as a task with a road map or some tasks from the complete project will be handled by one candidate ? Can your shed some light on this please ? Do we work as part of a team or it's based on the project ?

pawannogariya profile image
Pawan Nogariya • Edited


I cleared the third round interview yesterday and was given the project details.
How important is to have unit tests in your project? Did you include unit test project in your project?
And the hourly rate they ask that we want is the net they put there or do they charge some commission from that amount?

kayis profile image

Did such a process at CodementorX, found it rather nice. All remote, a week of time for the project.

chetu01 profile image
Chetan Chouhan

I am a UI/UX designer and I want to joing Toptal for the same. What kind of test I would need to give?