The next step is to conduct interviews with all candidates on your narrowed-down list. If at all possible, hold in-person interviews. This is especially important for long-term projects or those which involve a great deal of interaction with staff. Consultant personality and presence can be key factors in successful consulting relationships.
To create useful points of comparison, you should interview each candidate using the same set of questions. In addition, don't be afraid to discuss fees during the interview. The candidates will have given you an estimate in their proposals, but fees may potentially be negotiable. There is no harm in asking about this. For a set of suggested interview questions and observations, please download Key Questions and Observations for Interviewing Consultants .
In addition to conducting thorough interviews, it's also necessary to check candidates' references to make sure the consultants have a track record of successfully completing projects. Ask for two to three references from each candidate. To allow for more dialogue, conduct reference checks over the phone, rather than via email. Please download this tip sheet on conducting reference checks.