Top 5 Interview Tips When Trying to Win Proposals

Written by Kimberly MacArthur Graham on December 5, 2012

In November, I attended an SMPS luncheon featuring several area developers.  Conversation naturally turned to How To Win Work, a.k.a., Give Us Tips on Proposals and Interviews.  We heard plenty of stories good, bad, and ugly – and we also got some great tips.  As promised in my earlier post about proposals, here are their top 5 interviewing tips.

1 – Coordinate.  Prior to the interview, identify themes and key messages.  Identify main and supporting speakers/presenters – but give everyone a role.  Don’t make the interviewers wonder why someone is there.  Use the dynamics and style of each team member to guide the overall flow.  A coordinated interview effort speaks volumes about how you’ll work together on the project.

2 – Customize.  The needs and concerns of a CEO are quite different from those of a facility manager – but both will weigh in on the selection.  Similarly, everyone may not be equally familiar with your team or your proposal.  Learn as much as you can about the interviewer(s) and their hot buttons, then choose your presenters accordingly and prepare solid answers to the most-likely questions.

3 – Meet.  Get to know one another before the day of the interview.  With the possible exception of team members who live in different states, your team should be practicing together in person.  Incredibly, some teams have swapped business cards with each other in plain view of the interviewer.  Good grief; at least have the grace to do this later.

4 – Relax.  Not everyone is a great presenter, but sometimes the less-gifted speakers have the most relevant skills.  Allow them to acknowledge their discomfort upfront, briefly, and make sure the rest of the team is supportive.  It helps to remember that the interviewer values honesty and earnestness than they do glibness.

5 – Interact.  Props can be wonderful, but remember that your competence has been established.  Focus instead on this opportunity for personal interaction, both with the interviewers and with each others.  What the client is most interested in is seeing which team is the best “fit.”  In a nutshell, are you a team they will enjoy working with on a daily basis?

In a nutshell, be incredibly prepared, but be yourself.  Professional services consulting is a relationship-based business, and the interview is a vital tool for making sure the project is a good fit for BOTH client and consultant.

Looking for more individualized help?  We offer proposal and interview assistance.  Call us for more information.


Layer Cake Creative is a strategic marketing agency specializing in communications, designpublicity and online marketing that enrich your brand and support your strategic and sales goals.  This Denver marketing firm specializes in promoting professional services such as architecture, construction, engineering, law, finance, and real estate.

Kimberly MacArthur Graham, founder of Layer Cake Creative, is an expert in professional services marketing with 20+ years in the design and building industry.  She’s especially proficient in marketing communications including technical or creative writing and editing, articles submitted for publication, and brand messaging.

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