There’s one word that I’ve noticed comes up over and over again when I speak to prospective clients: trust.

Trust that the freelance healthcare writer they hire will understand their business, write amazing copy and make their deadlines. Trust that they won’t drop the ball or screw up the project. A potential client recently told me that she was hesitant about working with a freelance writer. It turns out that the public relations agency she had hired to write their healthcare content wasn’t writing in the company’s voice.

She needed to make sure that if she hired me (she did), that I not only spoke her language, but I could write the content as though their CEO wrote it. Perhaps you’ve been burned in the past too. Sure, it stinks. But the problem still remains: you need content. Compelling content that’s created on a consistent basis to help potential customers find you.

The good news is that you can hire an amazing freelance writer who understands your business if you do your homework and know the right questions to ask.

Here, read on for 5 questions to ask potential candidates.

1. What do you need?

True, you’re the one with the problem or challenge, but if you work together with the writer from the get-go, it’s a win-win for both sides.

Instead of looking to that person as just a consultant, think of him or her as your creative partner and a member of your team. You’ll want to provide a creative brief which outlines things like the objectives of the project, who your competitors are, what has worked for you in the past and how success will be measured. You’ll also need to have buyer personas and your content marketing strategy handy.

2. What industry (or industries) do you specialize in?

It’s important that the writer you choose specializes in the healthcare industry. It’s OK if they specialize in more than one industry, but take a look at their portfolio to get an idea of what they write. Hiring a writer who speaks your language and knows the difference between probiotics and prebiotics for example, will cut down on several rounds of edits and a ton of frustration.

3. Can I see your work?

One of the first writing samples you’ll ever see is the writer’s website and it’s one of the best ways to weed out potential candidates.

Typos? Grammatical errors? Dead links? Move on.

Most writers have their portfolios on their websites but feel free to ask about other clips they may have. You’re not only looking for the quality of their work, but also the range of their work.

Keep in mind that although you might be looking for someone just to write your case studies now, later on you might also need blogs, website copy and white papers. So you’ll want to make sure the writer you hire is versatile.

4. What’s your availability?

The key to a successful partnership is being clear about what you need from the get-go. So if you already know that you’ll need someone to turn around your press releases in 2 days for example, make sure the writer can write quickly, is accustomed to quick deadlines and has the time to get it done.

You may also want to consider working on a retainer basis, which will allow the writer to block out a certain amount of time each week just for you.

5. Do you require a contract?

A proposal which outlines exactly what services are included for the project is important, but a signed agreement is necessary too. Without it, either side can make assumptions and it can turn into a he-said-she-said situation.

The agreement can be a simple letter or a more formal document, but it should explain the services the writer will provide, how many revisions are included, who owns the rights, as well as the fees and deadlines.