How will you check that it is right? How to answer ...
How to ace those tricky questions for Consulting Engineers
It is not always easy to answer the client’s questions, particularly in open meetings, video calls or face-to-face communications. Some people are good at thinking fast and giving good answers, but maybe they have been asked before. They have built up a rehearsed a formula to respond that works for them.
Take note, absorb them into your memory bank and for sure you will gain confidence and be more effective in the face of tricky situations and build trust in your client relationships.
How to answer: How will you check that it is right?
From our research we think that “How will you check that it is right?” is a common pitch or interview question that you need to be able to answer well. The questioner is asking you what you will do to check that your design information is a good quality.
Let first unpack this.
What does good quality mean?
The person asking is probably wanting reassurance that your deliverables will be error-free, and that you will check to make sure. But, in answering this point, it is also good to consider a wider view, in the context of what ‘good quality’ should mean to us.
That is probably:
Your deliverable is error free.
A sustainable design or solution.
You have embraced innovation.
It is delivered on time.
The deliverable recognizes any known constraints, and client preferences and norms.
A bad way to answer this question, is to explain your organization's quality control procedures and systems. These are business as usual, so you need to mention them but only get into any detail if there are any features that are special. You may have very effective online systems that make them easy to apply, but only highlight features that you can convincingly explain as being unusual or especially effective.
From our research, we believe that this question is best answered by personalizing the activity that you talk about, drawing, if you can, on other real projects. A good answer would describe engagement with others, suggesting specific names, that will be part of your checking process.
For example: “We will carry out a workshop at key points in the design process. These would include the key team members [and say who they are] and external colleagues as peer reviewers. “For example, on the ABC project, Mr X, who is here, was one of the peer reviewers.”
Name the people and explain how it worked well in the past. A convincing answer will emphasize the engagement of experienced people who would take time to focus on this project.
You must not allow the client to think that your quality process is a tick box exercise. You must prove that it is a humanized beneficial process.
It gets easier to think on your feet, the more that you are exposed to tough questions. Techniques can be learnt that help you to avoid making knee-jerk commitments. Knee-jerk answers will probably make your situation worse for you. Try to hold your nerve and give yourself time to think. Analyze and make a rational decision.
Authored by Paul Lengthorn
Chartered Engineer, MBA, BEng, member of the Institute of Asset Management (IAM) and independent practicing Consulting Engineer