As architects, engineers, and contractors, we interview for the “next big project” for our team to work on. We are excited to have the opportunity to present our team to our, hopefully, new client. Having a game plan is important and practice is even more instrumental in your success of an interview presentation. It’s no different than an athlete training for their big game or race.
It’s important to put your best foot forward during your interview. The presentation has little to do with you and your team and mostly focuses on the client. Before the interview, you should know what’s important to your audience and focus on those key factors. (You should already know what’s important to the client, and should have been gathered during your business development process. Someone should have had a relationship with the client prior to the proposal and interview process.)
The three things you need to focus on include:
First, you need to put together a game plan as soon as your team knows you have been selected for an interview. Sit down and brainstorm creative ways you are going to solve your prospect’s problem. Focus on what they care about and what is important to them. (Your proposal was your chance to talk about your company not during the interview.) Do they care about safety? Do they care about how clean the construction site is because they have a building right next to the building you are constructing. Focus on the hot buttons of the prospect.
Be creative and original. Don’t sound like everyone else. This is what wins projects with owners, because they see you’ve thought about THEIR project and how you will apply all your experience to their project. Many times it’s nothing earth shattering that you suggest or do, but it’s some small detail you will deliver. Find something during your project process that is unique and apply it to your prospect’s project.
A contractor was interviewing for a children’s garden project, which was being built by the existing gardens. The contractor knew it was very important to keep garden patrons safe, but knew they were also interested in seeing the progress of the project. The project owner required plywood to be constructed as a fence. None of the patrons were going to be able to see the progress of the project. The contractor suggested cutting out peep holes for people to see the project. The contractor was selected for the project, because of their creativity. It didn’t cost the contractor any additional money to do this, but it won them the project.
Once you and your team have brainstormed about the content of the interview, then you can prepare handouts and visual aids. You should NEVER start with the handouts and visual aids. This gets in the way of your creativity. Once your handouts and visual aids are prepared, your team needs to practice… outloud… two to three times before the interview. Every time your team goes through the presentation, they will think of different things to say, improve their delivery, and gather feedback from the team. If the superintendent is an introvert, don’t require him to be an extrovert. Everyone should be themselves. Preparation and practice makes everyone comfortable.
Another contractor was preparing for an interview. The business development manager, project manager, and superintendent were all going to be in the interview, so they had met twice to prepare. Their mistake, though, was they just brainstormed and never actually went through the presentation to hear themselves. The superintendent later stated, “I wish they would have coached me and made me practice. The interview would have gone so much better.” By giving your team the tools to succeed, they will deliver every time. Help your team by providing confidence, practice, and the environment to do so. Everyone wants to be good at their job, but you have to support them.
Preparation, Creativity, and Practice are the three pieces to delivering a successful interview. You aren’t going to win every job you interview but if you have included these three things in your interview process you’ll win more work!
Nu marketing is a strategic business and marketing planning company who can help take your company to the next level. We help all size architecture, engineering, and construction firms with their marketing and business development services. Call or email us today to learn more.