Toptal – How I got to be part of the 3%

In February 2017 I got into Toptal. This blog post is a short review of my experience with them so far. What is Toptal? Toptal is the largest fully distributed workforce in the world. As they state on their website Toptal is an exclusive network of the top freelance software developers, designers, and finance experts…

Paul Mestereaga

December 4, 2017

In February 2017 I got into Toptal. This blog post is a short review of my experience with them so far.

What is Toptal?

Toptal is the largest fully distributed workforce in the world. As they state on their website Toptal is an exclusive network of the top freelance software developers, designers, and finance experts in the world. Top companies rely on Toptal freelancers for their most important projects. Their standards and requirements are so high that only 3% of the applicants get in.

How I got to hear about Toptal?

I was contacted on LinkedIn by a recruiter, that was looking for quality Magento developers to join their network, because my profile was a fit for what they are looking for. It was the first time I heard about Toptal and I started doing a bit of research. I was intrigued about the claim that they have the top 3% of the finest freelance developers and designers in the world. To be honest that scared me a bit, but right the moment after it became a huge challenge. I was busy at the moment with my work and other personal projects and I just asked the recruiter if I can come back to her in two months. I took this time to finish what I was working on but also to prepare myself.

Admission process

Every admission process is different depending on what position and skills you apply for. I was applying for a Magento Developer position. The admission process it was quite long and lasted more than a month.

First Interview

The first step in the screening process is a comprehensive language, personality, and communication interview. Your English level has to be very good. After this successful interview I was scheduled for the next one.

In-Depth Skill Review

The second interview included a test to check my technical knowledge about Magento. I’d say it gets to the level of a Magento certification exam. I passed also this one and I was scheduled for a live screening.

Live Screening

On the third interview I was requested to solve a problem in a Magento shop while someone was following my screen to check what I was doing and how I do it. To be honest I think it was the part where I was the most nervous but I passed it successfully. It was not over yet though and it followed another step.


The last part of the admission process was a test project. I was assigned a project which included a real-world scenario and I had 2 weeks to do it. I’d say, after passing all the other interviews, for me this one was the easiest, but still I didn’t took it lightly. After completing the project I presented it to a jury.

All this process was done online, as everything you do in Toptal is remotely.

When I heard the words “Welcome to Toptal!” I couldn’t believe it! I’ve done it! I was part of the 3%, but it was only the beginning.

Here you find more details about the addmission process.

The Hourly Rate

If you are here wondering how much people are earning on Toptal the answer is that everybody sets his own hourly rate. After finishing the interviews I was asked what would be my hourly rate. They accepted my request. Just to assure you, the payment reflects the quality of the network.

My experience

I still have my full-time job that I had previously applying to Toptal. I am doing Toptal projects besides that for now. Toptal allows me to do that by getting clients from another timezone so I can fit my schedule and do not neglect my current full-time job. I only take hourly and part-time engagements. Though in future I want to go full time freelance.

After getting access to the network I was able to look for available projects and apply for them, but also got asked by recruiters if I would love to take some certain ones. This is something I like because I can choose to do what I like.

It didn’t lasted long and I had my first client on Toptal. It was a client from Australia with an hourly engagement that lasted for a month. I needed to take a break because I was getting married, and had the whole summer off from taking any clients.
My second client I got it at the beginning of October and at this moment (December 2017) I am still working with them. It’s an USA client with a part-time engagement.

I love Toptal because I always have to keep up with quality and hight expectations. Also communication while working remotely is very important.

In short here are my pro and cons while working with Toptal:


  • Work remotely, have your own schedule
  • Complex and challenging engagements
  • Very well paid
  • Toptal takes care of all the logistics, contracts and payments with the client
  • Access to Toptal’s network of the very best freelance developers
  • Networking and community events


  • To be honest until now I couldn’t find something I don’t like about Toptal.


Toptal is a great company and a great network where it’s members are valued. It does not compare at all with or Upwork.
If you are an experienced developer and you want to be part of the top 3% of the finest freelance developers in the world sign up now for an interview or contact me. I’d love to get you all the info you need.

You can check the website or you can find my Toptal profile here

UPDATE 2019:

After being more than two years with Toptal I wrote another article which you can find here: Toptal – Review After 2 Years

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