Here are some common interview questions that would apply to all potential consultants, whether website developer or smartphone specialist:

  • “How long have you been doing this?”   (A few years can be okay, a year is not, 8 years can be good, 20 years might be too set in his/her ways)
  • “How many customers have you had, and how many are still active?”
  • “Can I talk to one of them and get a reference?”
  • “Do you always consider security while you work?” (if they do their work and then think of security afterwards, it’s not good.  A common excuse is to “help make sure you meet your deadlines”)
  • “Are you okay with getting paid 50% at start and 50% when the job’s done?”  (I do recommend this for things like website design, but not ongoing tasks like systems administration for years on end)
  • “Have you ever had to fire a customer?”  If so, what happened? (If they won’t help someone because they called them once every day, you either shouldn’t do that or you have the wrong consultant.)
  • “I’m going to get another tech and ask that you two work together.  Are you comfortable working with another technician?” (See above, you need to find two people, they need to know about each other and they need to like it.)
  • “How do you bill?  Hour increments, nearest 15 minutes…?”
  • “Does your cost schedule change if I have an emergency? How about weekend work?  24/7 response or business hours only?” (etc)
  • “Do you guarantee your work, and if so how does that work?”  (Is the guarantee credit towards a bill, full refund…?)
  • “This is what my site / environment looks like now.  What are your first blush thoughts or recommendations?”  (If they start panning what the “guy before them” did, they’re not a good candidate.  If you like having your hands on your server but they’re all about the “cloud” then they might have a blind spot and are more interested in going where they’re comfortable / with what they know best, not with what’s best for you.)

These are things you shouldn’t ask – they don’t help anybody.

  • Don’t ask whether they have a college degree, Masters degree, etc.  It seriously doesn’t matter when it comes down to the quality of IT work, customer service, etc.
  •  Don’t ask if they offer discounts – this shouldn’t be your focus as you’ll sacrifice quality.  
  • By that same token, don’t haggle the price – the websites show their rates up front, pay it or find someone else.

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