A Match Made in Heaven: How to Interview a Client

interviewThere are several situations when you will want to interview a client or potential client. If you ask the right questions, you are in a much better position when you decide to work with someone and then determine the scope of a project.

A large part of interviewing a client is not always asking questions, but being able to analyze what the client says and doesn’t say. Here are two common situations when you may want to interview a client and some of the information you should try to gather.

Determining If the Client Is a Good Client for You

It’s important to take time to determine if a potential client fits within your “ideal client” criteria, or the type of clients you typically work best with. Being a little bit picky when it comes to whom you work with is a great thing; it puts both you and your client in a position for long-term success…and hopefully both of you will be happy while you’re working together if you enter the relationship understanding a little bit about the other person.

Some questions you should be able to answer to determine if a client is a good fit for you include:

  • Who is the client and what does he/she do?
  • Do the services they need mesh with what you offer?
  • Do they understand the type of services you offer?
  • Do they understand your rates (and not question them)?
  • What are they looking for in a provider?
  • Do they understand your work process?
  • What is their communication preference?
  • Are there any hurdles that will be difficult to overcome (i.e. separated by several time zones)?
  • Do they seem to respect you?
  • What type of reputation do they have?
  • What is their general availability?
  • Do they have a sense of humor or are they all business?

Outlining the Scope of a Project

Getting a realistic idea of a specific project is vital, although it can be very difficult to do. You may use a project request form that the client fills out about elements of the project, or you may collect project specs informally via phone or e-mail. Whichever way you typically work, you will want to ask some general questions that get answers to the following:

  • What type of project is it?
  • What is their budget?
  • What is the timeline for the project?
  • Who is the audience?
  • What are the goals/objectives of the project?
  • What are the deliverables that are expected?
  • What are the expectations in terms of responsiveness and meeting milestones?
  • What are the benefits expected from this project?
  • What is the background on the project (is it brand new, was it started previously)?
  • Does the client have preferences for the project that you should be aware of?
  • Will the client want regular status check-ins?
  • Will there be any training, follow-up or support necessary after the completion of the project?
  • Who will be your contact person?
  • Who is the decision-maker?
  • Who else will you be working with?

Many of these questions will be answered before you even have to ask them, but it’s important to get this type of information so you’re not surprised and are able to provide an accurate estimate and deliverable date.

What are some questions you ask clients when determining if you will work with them and take a specific project on?

Image credit: Razvan Caliman

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  • http://www.lowter.com charmedlover

    I know that demographics can include location, but the way you’ve phrased “Are there any demographic hurdles that will be difficult to overcome?” sounds like you’re referring to race, gender, etc. Perhaps just “Are there any hurdles that will be difficult to overcome?” eliminates that ambiguity.

  • http://www.avertua.com Alyssa Gregory

    Point taken and wording revised. :-)

  • http://www.HereNextYear.com lerxtjr

    “Have you requested a refund from an Internet services provider in the past year?” would be a question I would add to the list. I’ve been in this business for 13 years and have only been asked for a refund twice…until this year. Over the past 8 months alone, even with favorable outcomes like quadrupling leads through AdWords within two months and reducing costs by 2/3, for example, then the client asked for a refund??? Be careful. People have lost their minds these days with this crazy economy that they’re even wanting their money back when you do a GOOD job.

  • thesambarnes

    Great post Alyssa, I’d advise anyone who regularly visits clients to take project requirements to maintain a list of key questions to ask. Nothing worse than leaving and then thinking of a question you should’ve asked!