March 16, 2012

What to ask an Expert in your Initial Interview

We know that finding the right expert for your case or project is crucial. Your interview is an opportunity to learn more about the expert’s background, assess personality fit, and evaluate the expert’s presentation skills.  

During your initial interview with an expert, we suggest you:

·        Verify information about the expert that has already been provided to you.

·        Ask for an example of how the expert's skills would help your position.

·        Ask what additional information would be helpful for the expert to assess whether this engagement is a good fit.

·        Determine how many previous consulting/testifying engagements the expert has done in the last 5 years.

·        Inquire about similar engagements he/she has worked on (without asking for confidential details) and challenges he/she has successfully tackled.

·        If possible, assert a complex technical point, difficult for the untrained to understand. A good expert should be able to answer concisely using layman’s terms or a sound analogy. An expert whose answer is too technical may not make the best witness or consultant.  

We suggest you not ask experts to:  

·        Unreasonably review documents or give opinions prior to the engagement.

·        Quote fees or discuss contract issues (save this for the contract negotiation phase after you’ve selected the appropriate expert).

·        Refer other experts.

An expert placement firm can narrow down candidates by relevant technical expertise, the experts' interests in the client position, schedule availability, potential conflicts of interest, prior expert witness experiences, and geographic location. Starting with pre-qualified candidates can expedite the selection process considerably.

The author, Dr. Barry Bowen, is a Vice President and Project manager with The CECON Group, Inc.. He has successfully placed many candidates on law cases, consulting jobs, and long term employment assignments.

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