What to ask your consultant

October 9, 2017

ask-your-consultantEveryone misses deadlines. Everyone.  

Well, ok, I don’t. Not usually. But most other people? It’s human.

Oh, you’re wondering why I don’t. Maybe it’s because I went to journalism school and there we learned the importance of deadlines. I took that seriously.

But if you’re starting a new venture, you KNOW that responsiveness and deadlines are important. Maybe you use a consultant for web design or maintenance, graphic design, social media or something else. If you directly ask your consultant about deadlines before you hire, you might not get an accurate answer. So it’s smart to ask a few incisive questions before you hire so you know exactly what to expect.

Here are some of them:

What days and hours do you work?

How quickly do you respond to calls, texts or emails?

Do you also have a job somewhere else besides (what they are doing for you)? (as in a part-time job doing something else or even full-time)

Do you do any kind of child or elder care at home while you are working?

How many other assignments will you be working on at the same time?

How much time per day can you devote to this?

Do you have three references I can call? And ask those references about the consultant’s ability to meet deadlines.

It’s not that any of these are complete deal killers. The idea is to have an idea of what to expect.

What questions would you add to this list?  




32 comments on “What to ask your consultant
  1. The value of meeting deadlines cannot be overstated. Not only does it reflect well on your work ethic personally, but when everyone else in the game is behind or dropping the ball, and you’re always picking it up, it also makes your business EVER attractive.

  2. Destany says:

    Girl, preaching to the choir about journalism and deadlines. Journalism major here 🙂 Now that I’m not working in journalism anymore, I find myself, even in my new job, adhering more strongly to deadlines with my meetings and committees.

  3. The commitment for deadlines are strongly connected with the way we know ourselves. How well do you know about yourself? Do you know how to say yes or no? Because, there are people who doesn’t know how to say no, even when they know they cant accomplish a deadline, but they just cant say “No, I need more time”. Or there are other kind of people who think they are better than they actually are and believe they can accomplish a job when they just are not able to. We are human, but when we are honest to ourselves and keep our word is key to master anything.

  4. Tonya says:

    These are such great points to consider. I’ve learned some of them through trial and error after hiring VA’s who just couldn’t get the job done…on time. 🙁

  5. Haralee says:

    Responsiveness is so important! I had a web hoster who I swore was MIA! I would ask also about changes and costs and monthly or yearly plans for payments.

  6. I’d ask if they’re willing to put their money where their mouth is and put some language in your letter of agreement/contract that specifies penalties if they don’t come through with deliverables as agreed upon at the outset. Sure, you can allow for acts of God, serious illness or other extreme extenuating circumstances, but if they’re serious, accepting some risk for non- or late delivery shouldn’t be an issue.

  7. Stephanie says:

    This is a great list. My husband is a freelance graphic designer and marketing analyst, and these are all things that he takes into consideration when he gives a deadline to his clients. We are both very organized people, though, and don’t ever miss deadlines.

  8. Jen Temcio says:

    I might be direct and say that my deadline is non-negotiable and how will I be compensated if you default on your part of the contract/agreement. Along with never using the person again and being a negative reference I would also perhaps expect a monetary discount/

  9. What’s a deadline and who is this crazy Rena person you are talking about? More importantly how’s Riley?

  10. Jennifer says:

    Great suggestions, especially asking for the references to talk to.

  11. This is such a great resource. Thank you for compiling the questions and sharing. I think they are also great if someone is looking to start offering consulting hours. They can use this list to get an idea of what might be asked of them. You can never be too prepared!

  12. I would ask what do you need from me? Sometimes deadlines cannot be reached because a consultant isn’t receiving all the materials and information they need to proceed in a timely manner.

  13. These are great questions that really get to the core of a person’s ability to devote themselves to their work. I can’t think of any other questions to add that would better reveal how well a person handles deadlines.

  14. Ellen Dolgen says:

    These are great tips. It is so important to be very clear what your expectations are so that you and your consultant can be successful. I always check references as it is easy to talk the talk, but actions speak louder than words.

  15. Good points. Communication is key, and knowing what to expect of each other is everything.

  16. You’re going to be paying them with the money that you work hard for so these questions are definitely important when it comes to learning about their work and how they finish it. I would ask the same things if I were to hire a consultant.

  17. Maureen says:

    I think that you accurately displayed the right questions to ask for sure. I am all about deadlines, it’s very frustrating when I hire someone and they don’t meet the deadline or I have to chase them down for work. I think if more people thought of both sides, the person who you made the commitment to for deadline and the person who is supposed to meet that deadline, you would have better interactions. Communication can go a long way too!

  18. Theresa says:

    These are all really good points to ask before taking on a new partnership. If one can’t meet a deadline, overall it reflects poorly on you, not them. I took journalism in school and the importance of meeting a deadline was also drilled into my head, so if I am not way ahead of schedule, I start to freak out a bit.

  19. Wendy Polisi says:

    I can’t stand missing deadlines. You never know what opportunities can arise from being punctual.

  20. Kita Bryans says:

    Hitting my deadlines has been a working progress for me. I have gotten better with it for the most part. I still can miss some sometimes, and I hate that.

  21. These are really great tips! Getting clear about the details of the work is really important to me. Thanks for sharing these!

  22. Cynthia says:

    I work in a creative field, but I was taught by my parents to be punctual, as it demonstrates respect for people’s time, which in adult life translated to meet deadlines. I have never had a problem with this, as I am very disciplined, but I know people from my field can be a little “flaky” which reflects badly on the rest of us.

  23. Dogvills says:

    Deadlines are put into place because there is a need. On the other end of the spectrum, there are deadlines that are so unreasonable, the drawback will be that the employee will quit in the middle of a project, leaving you scrambling to finish the task yourself. I think there should be compromise between two parties.

  24. dawn says:

    these are such good suggestions. doing your homework beforehand can save a lot of issues down the road.

  25. Kiwi says:

    People consultant me for blogging and marketing tips. This was a good post because these are good info for people working with a consultant.

  26. Brandi says:

    I love the question about how quickly do you respond to emails. This would be super important for me.

  27. Knowing the right question to ask is of major importance. When hiring out tasks we have to ask the questions that will make us feel comfortable that our job will be in the right hands and that we can effective and expeditious results.

  28. Morgan shaw says:

    Hey, perhaps are your working hours flexible I.e would they do overtime to meet deadlines or ask them how they prioritise their workload to see if their methods are feasable. Ask for a time whereby they stretched themselves to meet a deadline. Morgan x

  29. I have definitely thought about getting a consultant or a virtual assistant for my blogging. I just wasn’t sure I was willing to invest some money on just that. These are great things to think about for sure.

  30. I think meeting deadlines is so important in any business field and these tips can definitely span across multiple fields. However, I don’t agree with asking about childcare or eldercare as in some states asking personal questions like that is actually illegal and it can be very tricky to word that kind of question properly.

  31. Candy Rachelle says:

    I’m loving all of these suggestive questions. I’m sure asking these will save you on headaches in the long run.

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