My first project interview as an architectural project manager was terrifying. Not being adept at public speaking, not being familiar with the specifics of the job, and having the feeling your job was on the line, was too much. Fortunately, it didn’t matter.

When it came time to interview, our orchestra of a presentation turned into a one-man band. Our forty minute introduction led right into Q&A, which rarely ended up in my court. When I was called upon to contribute, it was usually at the direction of my own superior, the principal-in-charge, not the client themselves.

I don’t have sour grapes, in fact, I was truly relieved.

As Owner’s Representative, we are involved with the interviewing of firms of types on a regular basis. We see the nervousness in not only the young staff, but principals too. Face it, there is a lot on the line. As the principal you probably have the best answers and feel you should share them no matter what– don’t. Our clients often appreciate the owners showing up as part of the presentations but they often don’t appreciate it when owners answer every question and lead the entire presentation.

If you brought a team of professionals let them speak. Talking over the project manager communicates that you don’t trust them, regardless if you do. In addition to not doing all the talking, don’t correct or add to every answer, it undermines your team. If you do add to the response, say something like “Heather, has really addressed that well. I would just like to add a small note from the company’s perspective.”

Remember, if it is perceived that you don’t trust your team, no selection committee will either.

Paul Wember, Wember Inc. ~ Owner’s Representative