The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Tennessee County Municipal Advisory Service

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Step 6: Interview Short-Listed Firms

Reference Number: MTAS-766
Tennessee Code Annotated
Reviewed Date: March 02, 2016
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The interview is an opportunity for the selection committee to gain more information about the short-listed firms and their approaches. The selection committee should not expect design details or cost estimates at this time. The committee should be concerned about the firm’s competence, its expertise, and its financial responsibility. Consistency is important.

The physical set-up of the interview should be comfortable, with good acoustics and plenty of room. If possible, a separate waiting area should be provided for other firms waiting to be interviewed. Equipment such as blackboards, flip charts, and audio-visual equipment will be useful. Some firms are likely to provide their own presentation equipment. Due to the amount of time necessary for equipment set-up, two interview rooms should be used if possible. While one firm is being interviewed in the first room, another firm can set up and prepare for its presentation in the second room. This will help ensure that the interviews run smoothly and that time is not wasted.

Conduct all the interviews on the same day, using the same interview panel. Allow all firms the same amount of time for the interview. A 45-minute interview is common, including introductions, presentation, and questions and answers. Complex projects require longer interview times.

Selection committee members should rotate questions among the group and follow up when appropriate until they all their questions are answered. The chairman should be the timekeeper to move the process along and ensure fairness by giving equal time to each firm.

Immediately after each interview, while impressions are fresh, allow 10 to 15 minutes for the selection committee to record comments and complete their scoring sheets (A-11:  Interview Process: Questions and Score Sheet).

  • Evaluation criteria for scoring the interview should be communicated to all firms at the time the invitation for interviews is made (see A-11:  Interview Process: Questions and Score Sheet).
  • Inform all firms when the selection decision will be made and when they will be notified of their standing. If possible, it is recommended that the selection decision be made on the same day as the interviews.
  • Owners should not ask for design solutions during the interview phase. Appropriate and responsive design requires considerably more interaction between the design professional and the owner than is possible during the selection phase. Preconceived ideas may, in fact, impede the progress of the project and prevent the exploration of other more appropriate solutions to the project’s requirements.
  • Interview sessions should be closed. Do not allow one firm to sit in on another firm’s interview.
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