Five Tips for a Kick Ass Interview

If you can’t tell, I’m knee deep in interview prep this week.  I decided to take a few minutes out today to get down some ideas relating to AEC interviews and share them with ya’ll. Here’s to hoping this interview is truly kick ass and results in a win!

1. Define your pitch

Possibly the most important step of the interview process – define your pitch. You’ve likely received an agenda from the prospective client. Use this as a guide for points you need to hit, but remember that this is not your pitch! A pitch is a concise point on why your team is the only one for the job (and it should have been evident in your original RFQ/RFP response).

It should be made of differentiators from your competition and be unique to the specific pursuit. Be confident and be bold. When the team finishes the interview presentation, there should be zero doubt in the review teams mind on who they need to, no – who they must, select.

2. Decide WHO should attend the interview, feelings aside

This is a time to be strategic, not stroke egos. Rather than just assuming the top box in your original org chart will attend, look at your pitch. Who will best sell your pitch? Who is essential in implementing those concepts throughout the project? That is who should be attending the interview, alongside the proposed top of the top team leadership. One more thought – I’d advise against your team out numbering the selection committee. It’s just poor form.

3. Set a Schedule

I’ve found it to be helpful to create a workplan, similar to what I do for proposals. It can include whatever works for your team, here is what works for me:

  • Each section and component of the presentation
  • Who is responsible for creating content for each portion (slide, board, handout, etc)
  • Who is responsible for presenting each portion
  • Internal deadlines
  • Status
  • Notes

In addition to the workplan, take some time up front to schedule content deadlines and rehearsals. The earlier you have it on everyone’s calendar, the more likely they will show up. And that makes for a happy interview team.

4. Select Your Medium

Boards? Powerpoint? Books? Prezi?(gasp!)  The team will undoubtedly want to select the presentation format the first time you meet. And then that format will probably change five times. So in order to keep you, the marketer, from redoing your work five times – wait it out for a while until the presentation concepts are a little further developed. And then, choose what works best for the specific pursuit and the specific team. Pair this with your knowledge of the interview setting and client review panel and you can’t go wrong.

5. Practice, Practice, Practice

While your interview shouldn’t be a rehearsed drama, practice will shine through along with chemistry during the actual interview. When it’s getting closer to “showtime,” enlist the help of a coach or outsider if necessary to sit in as a fresh pair of eyes and ears. Things, as a marketer, to pay attention to during these rehearsals include:

  • Timing – too long? too short? Give the team cues.
  • Answering all agenda requirements?
  • Bad jokes? Just say no.
  • Awkward transitions? Let it flow!
  • Have a pretend Q&A, and ask tough questions.

Have some more? Share ’em in the comments section below. We’re all friends – well, at least until we are competitors.