The Toptal hiring process for freelancers

Aug 29, 2018

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.