Tips For A Productive Introductory Interview
Sometimes it can be really intimidating to meet a new client. Will your ideas be what they are looking for? What is the scope of their work? Are you charging the right prices? All of these things are a matter of perspective, so you can’t prepare for it all. You can, however, make sure you get as much valuable information as possible to make sure you start on the right foot.
I have years of Human Services and banking experience which has allowed me to hone my interview skills, but with this experience I realized that my new client interviews have been somewhat lacking on my part lately. I have found myself in a rut, not running the interview as efficiently as I could. I decided it was time to revisit some essentials of an efficient interview, and in turn, help you to do so as well.
Be Proactive, Not Reactive:
If at all possible, get as much background on the client as you can. Is the client moving from an old home? What style was it? Have they worked with a designer before? Have them set up a Houzz or Pinterest account with things they like before the meeting so you can direct the conversation in a way that will help identify the client's needs. Reference their selections int eh discussion so they can explain their choices and you can understand the reason behind them. Many times the client doesn’t know how to describe what they are wanting and are relying on you to figure it out.
Assuming information is the easiest way to start you and your client on two completely different paths. My voice coach use to always tell me “ to assume makes an ass out of you and me.” A clever play on words, perhaps a little crass, but so true. By assuming, you are missing the opportunity for clients to provide you valuable details about how to work with them.
Make a goal to let your client do the majority of the talking. I struggle with need to fill the silence which, I'm sure others experience as well. A business training I went to stressed the need for business owners and managers to learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. The instructor encouraged us to focus on why we are feeling uncomfortable and when necessary to develop business, learn to embrace it. Silence makes me uncomfortable, my focus is to ask open ended questions that allow the client to productively fill the silence rather than filling it myself.
These tips aren't Earth shattering, they are simple meant to be a reminder. Sometimes we get so busy growing a business, we forget to get back to basics. Good luck!