Ideally, interior designers want to visit a location in person before taking on a new job designing a room or building. It’s not always possible however, especially if your client is too far away or the building isn’t even completed yet. Your interview easily can be done over the phone so potential clients can compare designers before making a final decision. You’ll get a good feel for the client’s needs and she can assess your effectiveness if you’re prepared with the right questions and answers.
Before you begin any job, there are a number of basic questions you and the client need to cover. These basics are easily covered in an initial phone call. You’ll want to know the name and address of the client as well as who referred her to you. You can then answer client questions by offering your credentials. Give her the basics of your resume, including your license number, certifications, the schools and design courses you’ve attended and how many years you’ve been in business.
Get the Basics
Since you’re conducting the interview by phone, you’ll have to rely on the measurements taken by the client or her architect or contractor for each room that needs your attention. Talk with the client about her style. Ask about homes or buildings she’s seen and would like to emulate. Talk favorite colors as well as what new furniture and accessories she plans to introduce in the rooms.
Learn the Parameters
Other questions that are important for the initial interview are things like what kind of budget you’ll have and what time constraints you’ll work under. Get an idea of the builder’s schedule if it’s a newly-constructed building or when the contractors may be finished if it’s a renovation. If you’ll just be redecorating an existing space, provide the client with instructions on what kinds of pictures you’ll need before you can complete your quote.
Explain the Process
Once you have an idea of the basics and the client’s desires, you can talk about the process you will follow once you’re hired. Set up an appointment to bring by fabric and paint samples and to verify the dimensions and description of the rooms you’ll be working on. Provide the client with lists of furniture, rug and accessory merchants you recommend so she can make some preliminary shopping trips. Explain your billing procedure, whether you charge by the hour or by the square footage as well as how much you charge for mileage and making purchases on her behalf.
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."