In my opinion, the client-designer interview is the most important step in your home design project because selecting the right interior designer for your home project is vital for your project’s success. So, to help you facilitate this process, I’ve outlined the best way in my experience to interview an interior designer in this post, with a comprehensive list of 40 important questions to ask during the interview, PLUS a bonus list! Let me know if you’ve found it helpful in my comments section below, I’d love to read your feedback!
I call my client-designer interview my “Initial Consultation”. I use this time specifically to generally review the client’s plans, visit the project site, and discuss the work that is being proposed for the home. It is also used to review my design fees and services, explain my design processes, and answer questions. Once I’m able to get a good sense of the work load involved for the project, I can then give estimates for my fees as well as recommendations on methods to proceed and general verbal timing schedules for the work. Some designers charge for this meeting and some don’t. For more detailed information on interior designer’s pricing and fees, check out my related blog post on How to Work With An Interior Designer: Pricing-What To Expect And What To Know.
Another key factor to consider during the interview/initial consultation, are the personalities of all involved. This in-person meeting allows everyone to get a feel if they would work well together or not. Most of my design projects last several months to a year. You can expect to be communicating several times per week, sometimes daily, with your designer, so you definitely want to hire someone you like working with! If there are other members of the team involved such as architects, contractors, and trades people, (which there usually are), it’s also good to make sure everyone is on the same page and can work well together.
As I’ve mentioned in my previous posts, trust is a critical component of a designer-client relationship. You need to be able to trust not only in their design skills, but also around all monetary issues. The interview will give you a sense of the designer’s personality and trustworthiness. You should feel free to ask for a few recent references to call. You can ask for these either before, during, or after the interview. The references can help you confirm your feelings about the designers you’re considering for your project. As a bonus, I’ve added a list of important questions to ask the designer’s references when you call them ☺ see below. The more details you get about a interior designer you’re considering to hire, the more equipped you’ll feel about making the best decision for your home project.
Now you know quite a bit about what the interview/initial consultation consists of and what this time should be used for. What the interview time should NOT be used for is to glean lots of design advice, ask for design plans in advance, paint colors, furniture sources, or any other design related ideas for your home. These are the expert skills and sources that good designers have worked long and hard for years to hone and acquire, and it’s what you’re hiring them for! Please don’t expect to “test” a prospective designer during the interview as to what they would do in your home. You can view their portfolio to see if you like their work, call their references, and ask lots of questions about their process to ensure you’ll be a good match.
A good, experienced interior designer may give you a tip or two, but then would let you know that they need to follow their design process first to give you any real design plans or advice. Lots of thought, creativity, and expert planning goes into great design! This work would begin once the designer’s contract is agreed upon and signed.
Ok, so here is my super comprehensive list I’ve compiled for you of important questions to ask your prospective interior designers during your interview, as promised! Feel free to pick and choose which ones you feel would be most helpful to your specific home project…
I hope this helps you feel more confident and prepared going into an interview with your prospective designer(s)! Please share your experiences with any interior designer interviews, we’d love to hear about them in the comments section below!