A few weeks ago, we had our first real interview with a vendor, a potential photographer. Although we really liked her photos, we didn’t feel she was going to be a good value after we received her pricing sheet. For instance, while other photographers include engagement sessions in their similarly-priced packages, hers were extra. She also didn’t include any proof prints until you reached her very high-end packages.
We knew we probably weren’t going to select her as our wedding photographer, but we still decided to interview her on the phone. The interview was very illuminating and helped us craft other questions that we wanted to ask other photographers too. We have now interviewed five potential photographers, and we have our interview questions down pat.
I wanted to share with you our insights for interviewing vendors. Not specific questions per se, because those can be found on any particular number of sites and in wedding reference books, but good vendor interviewing techniques.
Although you may have a particular set of questions you want to ask the vendor, we have found that it is useful to ask an open ended question first. The purpose of the open ended question is two-fold. 1) Some of their discussion may answer the questions you already have, and 2) You can get a good sense of their personality and communication skills.
For instance, instead of asking, “What type of camera equipment do you use?” or “How many pictures do you provide?” upfront, try:
- Why don’t you tell me a little bit about yourself, your business, and your workflow?
- What is your philosophy on photography (or catering, officiating, etc.)?
We have found that we have a better opinion of the photographers that we have interviewed that have been chipper and asked us about ourselves than the ones that were just basically there to answer our direct questions. You’re going to be on regular contact with this person for a good length of time, (depending on the duration of your engagement). Make sure you have a vendor that meshes well with your personality.
Know What You’re Looking For
Or at least be open about why you don’t know what you’re looking for. Identify your criteria for the type of vendor you’re interviewing. For instance, during the interview, I mention several of our wedding photographer criteria from this post. Outlining your criteria to the vendor shows that you know what you want and that you’re not some flaky bride they’ll have to deal with. If you’re not sure what you want, the vendor may be able to help guide you in the right direction
Ask For Specifics
If you’re not familiar with the more technical aspects required of your vendor, take some time to inform yourself. My fiance and I are photo geeks, and so we ask the photographers what format they shoot in (the correct answer for any professional is RAW). We have eliminated two photographers because of technical-related issues. One photographer who said that he shoots in JPEG and not RAW and another that said she didn’t know how to export photos from Lightroom as a .TIFF, only as a .JPEG. These are major red flags, but only because we recognize them as red flags because we familiarized ourselves with the topic.
Phone vs. In-Person
We have done four phone interviews and one in-person interview. Personally, I feel like the in-person interview was a waste, because that was the one that said he shoots JPEGs. I’d recommend having a brief phone interview first, then decide if it’s worth it to meet with them in person. I think having phone interviews first would be valuable for any vendor, even caterers.
I’d be interested to hear what other brides and grooms have learned when they interview their wedding vendors!