As a decision maker for a school district, you’ve just sat through a half dozen architect interviews and you’re discussing with your team who you think might be the best fit for your project but they’re all running together. Which teams answered your questions? To be honest, they all answered the questions but just used a different combination of words. You know all the teams can do the work or they wouldn’t have made it through to the interview.
How do you decide? Who do you pick?
You know everyone interviewing is capable of completing the project; maybe it is time to change the questions. There are three things you really want to know:
- Who will I enjoy working with?
- Who will make me look good?
- Who will make my job easier?
Ask these questions to help identify the firm you will truly work well with:
“What concerns you the most about this project?” Shows who is thinking ahead and identifying potential issues, bonus if they come prepared to present possible solutions. However, be prepared to hear some feedback. If there is a red flag, you’re better off having the conversation now. Usually, there is an easy, straightforward solution.
“What appeals to you about this project?” Brings to light why the design team is pursuing this project. Are they interested in it for reasons compatible with your own? If they show the same passion as you, they are probably a good fit. Don’t assume that just because they are in the room, they want to work on this project. This answer can also give light to the organization’s values, goals and ethics and if they align with your own.
“How will you facilitate hard conversations with the user groups when they have conflicting wants and needs?” Reveals who is literally going to make your job easier. This will also tell you what their conflict resolution style is and if your team is likely to respond well to it. You need an architect that is going to be practical but also open minded to listen and respond to differing viewpoints.
If your District utilizes Design Advisory Committees, ask the interviewee “What strategies do you use to create a rapport with the user group?” You want to choose the team that is going to make the best use of the committee’s time and bring out their brightest ideas. There are many other possible questions that go beyond “can you meet the schedule?” or “will you sign the contract without modifications?” that can reveal who wants to work closely with you to ensure a successful project conclusion with a minimum of fuss.
Bonus points: Your architect should ask you: “What problem is this project going to solve?” When your design team knows the answer to that, they will know how to hit a home run for you. Whether you are interviewing the architects for a large or small project, it’s important to connect with the architect. What other questions do you think are important for the architect to answer? Have questions about your interview strategy and what you should or should not be asking? Reach out and I would be happy to discuss.