When hiring a consultant, what criteria do you use to evaluate them?


Over the years, I have had mixed results with hiring consultants for various jobs. I used to think that if they were referred, then that was good enough but that's not as consistent as I would like. Does anyone have a high success rate with consultants and if so, how do you pick them?

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asked Dec 29 '09 at 23:49
Jarie Bolander
11,421 points
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4 Answers


  1. Interview them like any other employee.
  2. Test the waters with a small prototype project before investing or committing too heavily.
  3. See examples of their previous work.
  4. Have clear expectations on what you expect from them. (Coming from a consulting background this in my experience the biggest source of failure. The customer/client is too busy to clearly specify what they want, but a good consultant knows this, facilitates this exchange and makes your life easier).
  5. Make sure you have some kind of process in place to periodically review their work.
answered Dec 30 '09 at 01:47
510 points
  • So from your consulting experience, how should a client approach expectations and in-flux requirements? – Jarie Bolander 14 years ago


The hardest consultant to locate is the first. But once you have that one, you can use chained referrals, which is how I locate additional consultants.

I found one consultant who produced high quality work at a decent price for web application development. He then referred me to a graphic design company for building sleek interfaces. Since I liked his work, and knew that he wouldn't tolerate shoddiness in any of his providers, I checked the company out, and now I've got two companies that I can use consistently.

answered Dec 30 '09 at 01:20
4,692 points
  • Referrals are good but what did you do to vet the first one? – Jarie Bolander 14 years ago
  • I was lucky - his sister and my wife are close friends. However, you can do a trial run with a small project (which I did do) where the cost to experiment is that you might have to do the work again. – Elie 14 years ago


Referrals from associates you trust is a good source of insight into consultants. But that's just a first step.

Ask the consultant how they approach a project and listen to see how that would fit your style.
Ask where and why they have had client expectation gap issues in the past and what they did to fix these.
Ensure that you have clarity in your expectations and provide clear written instructions to the consultant.
Walk through the statement of work together to ensure you understand things the same way.
Put a strong focus on specific attributes of deliverables - function, schedule, and price. Have frequent check points to make sure the consultant is moving in the right direction.

You can relax the intensity of the "micro-management" as you build a more trusted relationship.

answered Dec 30 '09 at 07:57
Warren E. Hart
2,181 points
  • Good point about deliverables and relaxing the micro-management once you trust them. – Jarie Bolander 14 years ago


I would love to recommend you World4Brains.com. It is a 'smart-sourced' Consulting and Innovation Think Tank that helps companies innovate and solve problems - for the price clients choose to pay.

Hundreds of well-credentialed consultants and accomplished innovators from over 120 countries (and across as many expertise categories as required) collaborate and contribute their best ideas, expert advice, creative solutions and constructive feedback - thanks to an innovative payment system that rewards all valuable input.

• anytime you're too busy with more important or lucrative work, yet you cannot ignore an urgent request by important clients.

• if you need expert advice in areas outside the services offered by your company.

• to add more value and fresh input with new knowledge and perspectives.

• for full-spectrum interdisciplinary consulting with specialists from as many different expertise categories as required - all discreetly collaborating on your client's project under your supervision.

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answered Jul 12 '10 at 19:32
Tatiana Andrushko
16 points

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