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.
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 (13)
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?
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.
Can you tell a little more about setting your rates and getting paid?
I am also interested to know the following:
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.
Thanks for the write up. Have you found paid work through Toptal? If so, can you speak a bit about it?
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.
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: hubbado.com
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 ?
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?
Did such a process at CodementorX, found it rather nice. All remote, a week of time for the project.
I am a UI/UX designer and I want to joing Toptal for the same. What kind of test I would need to give?