Tips and Tricks for Being Client-Centric in Interviews

Shortlist interviews are becoming a more prevalent way to gain work as a construction manager.  Clients are seeking detailed construction proposals that articulate each project team’s unique approach to their project, but the competition does not stop there.  Construction managers are then shortlisted for interviews where they meet the client face-to-face to discuss their enthusiasm for the project and their expertise to complete it.  In order to win these new delivery methods, a construction manager must excel in the shortlist interview process.  In order to impress the client and outrank the competition, construction managers need the best tips and tricks for being client-centric in interviews.

Why Interviews?

Gone are the days of only hard bid projects!  Many private clients as well as state and local municipalities are moving towards different avenues of selecting the right general contractor.  Among these delivery methods are construction manager at risk and design-build.  This gives clients the ability to vet a project team thoroughly and rest assured that their choice will manage all aspects of the project for them, thus providing the best quality at the best price.

Another reason for the interview process is the ability to get to know the project team at a personal level.  Interviews give clients the chance to meet the project team, understand their method and approach to the project, and visibly see their enthusiasm for the project.  This gives clients the chance to choose the team that best understands their vision for the project and who exemplifies strong team chemistry.

Client-Centric Approach

Many people view interviews in the classical sense, the interviewer asks questions and the interviewee attempts to market themselves explaining their skills, talents, and intelligence.  However, for construction shortlist interviews, the best way to win the project is by using a client-centric approach.  This flips the interview on its head where the interviewee is focused on the interviewer’s project from start to finish.

The hallmark of a client-centric interview is making it about the owner and their project including their needs, vision, and hopes for the project.  See yourself as a storyteller, not one that promotes your company or past experience, but on what showcases how your experience and wisdom on projects is a perfect match to the owner’s needs.

Tips and Tricks for Interviews

There are many tips and tricks out there for effective interview practices, but here are a few that focus specifically on the client-centric approach.

  1. See the presentation as a discussion.

As a construction manager, your goal is to understand the owner’s vision and implement that across all planning and construction phases.  The interview is not the time to boast on past experiences, rather it is your chance to get to the heart of the owner’s hopes for their project.  This will give you the opportunity to discuss aspects of the project that mean the most to the owner.

  1. Listen without approaching the bottom line.

Again, this is a discussion so that the owner can pick the best construction manager for the project, not about the contract.  Get to know the owner, hear their concerns and their priorities during the question and answer portion.  Tailor your presentation to fit their project.

  1. Connect their goals to your solutions.

By doing your homework, you can come prepared.  Read the Request for Qualifications carefully, rely on relationships with owners, and visit the potential site of the project to get a clear understanding of the project.  Through this process, you discover what items are most important to the owner and can show how your services align with their greatest needs during the interview.

  1. Link everything to their objective.

Always remember that an owner’s top objective is seeing their project completed on time, on budget, and with the highest quality.  Make sure that your interview presentation links back to this objective as well as any other priorities that the owner has indicated.  The best way you can show your company is the right fit for their project is by showcasing how your services will get them to their final objective.


Applying these Best Practices

The construction industry is shifting and relying on shortlist interviews of construction managers and design-build teams instead of the lowest bidder.  In order to adapt with the changing times, companies must refine their interview presentation skills and learn how to be client-centric.  Those who are able to develop client-centric approaches for their presentations will become more competitive and have a higher chance of winning projects.

J.M. Thompson prides itself on being client-focused.  We work hard to build strong relationships with owners and clients on every project.  We will use this same methodology when pursing construction manager at risk and design-build projects.  Our client is our top priority and we work diligently to ensure their vision for the project is realized and exceeds their expectations.

About J.M. Thompson

A family-owned and operated company, J.M. Thompson brings together vast construction knowledge to each project they take on. The team is comprised of experienced professionals in the industry, as the company is only as good as its employees. The staff assumes full responsibility for the successful projects found in the company portfolio.

We offer multiple services including general contracting, construction management, design-build, and pre-construction services.  Consider us for your next project!


Interview Graphic