Questions to Bring to Your Architecture Interview – Part 1
Getting hired in the architecture profession can be challenging. Positions at firms are usually highly competitive. Have you explored questions to ask the firm you are interviewing with? It is important when you get to the interview stage to ask critical questions to learn more about the prospective firm. Asking the right questions in your interview gives you an advantage over other candidates. Architecture firm interview questions help you learn about a firm and can also show how curious you are and showcase your strengths. When questions are answered, they usually present good opportunities to talk about how you are the best person for the job.
Questions tested with success at all firm sizes…
This article covers questions to ask architecture firms during your interview. The categories covered are position responsibilities, design, delivery processes, and software. These questions have been used firsthand with success during interviews at small, medium and large firms. The questions were developed for interviews over the years and during different career stages. The next article (Part 2) will focus on personal development, studio culture, and project management.
Architect position specific questions…
The questions are written from the perspective of an architect role since it is the baseline job at most architecture firms. If the questions don’t pertain to your role adjust the questions accordingly. Remember, always keep in mind how you can add value and show your interest.
- What qualities would an ideal candidate have for this position?
- After the interviewer answers this question it sets up a perfect opportunity to say how you would be a good fit for the position. In the best-case scenario, your skill set aligns with their ideal qualities. Make sure to explain why. Also, if you don’t have the ideal qualities do not overstate your qualifications, be honest.
- What are the responsibilities of this position?
- Evaluate the responsibilities explained in the answer to this question. Do you have what it takes to fulfill the responsibilities? If you do make sure to state how you can fulfill the responsibilities with specific examples. If the responsibilities would make you uncomfortable then make sure to state, why and ask if the responsibilities are flexible or something you can grow into. How this question plays out will directly relate to your salary negotiations later.
- How does an Architect collaborate and communicate with leadership positions at the firm?
- This reveals the inner communication protocols within a firm. If the interviewer struggles to answer this question it is probably an indicator there isn’t clear communication from firm leadership. If you want to work at a firm with strong leaders who communicate with their employees, this question is perfect.
- When and how does this position collaborate with clients?
- Working with clients is essential for career development. Ask this question if you are a person who wants to interact with the most important decision-makers and have more impact on your projects. Remember, include some info about how to can add value for your clients.
- Does this position mentor and manage young staff?
- A good indicator if the position has leadership potential. Also, good to keep in mind what level of mentorship and management responsibilities you want.
- What type of projects will I be working on and where are they located?
- Sometimes firms are unclear in interviews with what projects they need help with. Don’t be scared to ask specific questions. You may not get a clear answer due to project confidentiality or project pursuits. But get as much info as you can because the last thing you want is to start a new job and be working on project types you were not expecting.
Finding out about the architecture firm’s processes…
Delivering architecture projects is a process-driven endeavor. Most jobs at a firm’s center on how to deliver and produce the work. There is usually a whole other process for winning the work (might need to be a separate article). We went to architecture school to learn how to design buildings and we better understand how a firm delivers its designs.
- What is the design process for projects?
- This is a critical question to always ask. Make sure the design process is aligned with your expectations. The answer will indicate how collaborative the firm is in terms of design. Also, you will get a sense of how the design is developed from a software perspective. Different types of projects usually have very different design needs which also play into the process. This question is a gem because it reveals so much about how a firm functions and designs.
- Are designs reviewed in an individual critique or group setting?
- Similar to the first design question this one reveals more about how teams function when developing a design. If the answer is no, then there probably isn’t much design collaboration between teams in the office.
Questions about build phases of design…
- How is a typical project scheduled through different phases of design and construction?
- It may be beneficial to follow up with what the typical durations of phases tend to be. Since schedules vary so much it is a good idea to understand what types of deadlines you might be working under. They could be happening every week or after several months/years.
- Is there a QA/QC process for permit and issue for construction sets?
- The level of quality for drawings varies from firm to firm and from team to team. But asking about QA/QC gives a nice snapshot of the expectations the firm has in place for quality. You might get smoke blown at you so have a follow-up question ready. Is QA/QC ever skipped on a project to meet tight deadlines?
- How much construction administration is included in projects?
- If you enjoy watching projects get built, then you can identify if the firm is involved during the construction process. It sounds obvious, but some firms may not be involved in construction administration. An example would be a firm that does 75% of their work internationally and may have a local firm do construction administration.
- How are submittals organized and processed for projects?
- If the firm does construction administration this question helps identify how efficient the internal processes work. Occasionally bigger firms will have staff available to help process submittals and shop drawings for project teams. If the firm doesn’t have these people available expect to do all this work, yourself.
Software and consultant questions…
- What software does the firm use to develop construction drawings?
- The straight forward question identifies if your skills are aligned with the firm.
- Do consultants use the same software and how do they coordinate models?
- Firms vary in their level of collaboration digitally with consultants. A better collaboration strategy makes life easier when coordinating the design and project delivery. The more collaboration the better. Some integrated firms have engineering in-house.
- What software is used for design and renderings?
- Sometimes firms use separate software for design and project documentation. Some teams use Rhino and Revit. Some only use Revit or ArchiCAD. This is another question to see if your skills are aligned with the prospective firm.
Check back for Part 2 to explore more architecture interview questions. If you have an interview coming up GOOD LUCK and we hope these questions help you find your future architecture firm.