End On Them, Not You – Tip from Winning AEC Interviews

Some people watch sports for fun. If I could drink beer at a competitive sales interview, that would be my spectator sport of choice.

Dean Hyers and Pete Machalek authored a great new book on winning AEC interviewsThere are precious few opportunities to witness an Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) interview if you’re not participating, but you can catch them live at the State Designer Selection Committee in St. Paul, Minnesota. Here, teams compete for a project with interviews consisting of a presentation and Q&A.

I was watching such a presentation showdown when I saw a great team throw the game in the final inning.

As they moved through the beats of their interview, they were killing it in the open, the main body, their review, and the Q&A, only to toss the game with their closing words.

To grasp the fumble, you have to look at the rest of the game. What were they doing so right?

Right was making the whole presentation, and each answer in Q&A about the selection committee and the state project team. It wasn’t about the vendor’s firm, or their impressive credentials. It was about how they could help.

The presentation was chock full of recommendations, suggestions, and nuggets of insight all designed to help the project succeed – no matter which team was chosen. This selfless approach was definitely making an impression.

The shock came at the end when suddenly, the closing words were, “By this point we think it should be very clear that we are the best team for the job, and hope you see that too.” After all that other-centric emphasis, they made a “Main Character shift” and the interview was suddenly about landing a job instead of ensuring the prospect’s success.

Chapter 5 of our Winning AEC Interviews book talks through the format of a good interview. It looks at the three core stories of your open, main body, and close, and helps you stay on target with one Main Character right through to the closing words. It’s okay to tell them you want the project, so long as you make very sure your final words are about their success and not you landing a job.

Don’t throw the game in the final inning. End on them, not you.

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