As Owner’s Representatives we have participated in hundreds of interviews witnessing some engaging, educational and enlightening presentations from an impressive list of architecture firms and general contractors. That said, every now and then we observe professionals fold under pressure and say things they might regret. Here are a few things we advise not saying during an interview.

  • “Sweetie” Nothing is as impressive to a woman as using terms of endearment in a professional setting.
  • “How are we doing?” There is no way an Owner can answer this question honestly when you are halfway through an interview. It’s an obviously awkward question with an even more awkward response, yet we hear it often. We cringe every time.
  • “Who are you?” Basic rule – know your audience; if you missed a name, fake it.
  • “Estimate prediction” Be careful on using imaginative terms in your response; it may sound like you answered the question but follow up questions probing for details can get pretty tricky.
  • “We are the best.” We all appreciate confidence, but generic boasting does nothing to set you apart.  Stick with “We have been established longer,” or “We have completed ___ amount of sf for this project type.”
  • “When we were putting this together last night…” A statement more common than you think. Nothing says you care like waiting until the last minute to prepare. You are providing a sneak peak of how it will be to work with you. Don’t leave the client wondering how focused you will be on their project.
  • “Your budget will allow for modest design.” Owners know when the budget is tight, don’t rub it in. It’s the team that communicates they can do-a-lot-with-a-little that shines.
  • “That’s not really how we do it.” Owners, especially institutions, have legacies—best to embrace rather than dismiss. By making such a statement you add hours of brain damage and have now become a turn-off. Go with the flow and be flexible.

During the stress of an interview things happen, but with proper planning and keeping the conversation positive you can hopefully avoid missteps.

~ Paul Wember, Owner’s Representative