Aaaaahhhhh! You got an inquiry and are meeting with them next week! WHAT WILL YOU TALK ABOUT?!?! The first interview (well, the first few interviews) can be nerve wracking! But use your best doula relaxation skills (you know this stuff, use that deep breathing, visualizations, affirmations, etc.) to center yourself and get ready to rock that interview!
Before the interview:
Prequalify who you interview. Make sure they know your pricing and can afford you, are in your area, that you are available for their due date, etc. You don’t want to waste anyone’s time. You can do this with a conversation over text or on the phone, and by being clear on your web site. I’ll often ask people in the initial contact if they’ve had a chance to look at my web site, and if not, I invite them to take a look before our interview.
Choose carefully what to wear. Match your branding somewhat. You don’t have to dress in your logo colors, but if your branding is casual, don’t dress formal. If your branding IS more formal, dress more businesslike. If your branding is hippie-ish, fell free to let your inner hippie show in your dress! Make sure your clothes are clean and in good shape, but don’t feel like you need to dress in office attire like you are interviewing for an accountant job. I often get asked about tattoos and fun hair color. If that suits how you want to present yourself, let your personality show! It may mean that some clients are more attracted to a doula who is more conventional, but there WILL be clients who are attracted to who you are! There is a doula for everyone, but you don’t have to be a chameleon and try to mold yourself into someone different for interviews. Bottom line: Dress in a way that is true to you and makes you feel confident!
Prepare Have any business related handouts (your contract, pricing sheets, etc.) ready to go, and think of some open ended questions to ask if conversation lags. Some ideas could include:
“Tell me about your dream doula”
“Have you ever attended a birth before?”
“What first interested you in using a doula?”
At the interview
Listen more than you talk. You want to convey that the parents are the ones in the driver’s seat. At the end of the interview, if important things haven’t come up, then make sure you talk about them before you leave.
Start off the interview by asking if they have any questions. I know, sounds counter to what I just said, but again, it places the parents in control. Answer their questions, and if possible, ask for clarification, backstory, etc while you do. If you get off on tangents (like I tend to do) bring it back to “I’m sorry, I think we got off track, did you have another question?”
Then end by asking them if there is anything else they would like to discuss. Final impressions can be just as important as first impressions!
Find a way to connect. Ask about any pets you see. Compliment their decor. I got in the habit of looking around real quick for something I could relate to, and once noticed a yearbook from my high school on the coffee table. And I went to high school in a small town in another state over 800 miles away! So we had a little talk about teachers, the dumb mascot, etc. Definitely connected, was hired by her AND a few years later by her sister! I’ve often struck up conversations about art on the walls, complimented family photos, and several times have been hired because of the way I interacted with their dogs!
Keep it short! My interviews are 30-45 min tops. Don’t spend all night sharing info, this is not a private childbirth class. If they ask about how to avoid an episiotomy, say something like “We don’t have time for that whole conversation now (laugh) but it’s something we absolutely can cover in a prenatal!”
Ask if they are interviewing other doulas. If they are, say something kind about the other doulas. Something like “She’s been around a long time and is really good at X.” Or say “I don’t know her well but hear good things” etc. Often this will help you know what their timeline is, because they’ll say “we have two more interviews in the next week” or similar. Often they’ll mention someone who is my backup and I might say “Oh, I am so glad you’re meeting her! She and I back each other up so if you choose one of us, you already know the backup!” If they hesitate to mention who else they’re interviewing, don’t push, just move on.
Leave them knowing what the next step is. If they want to book then, DO IT. Don’t insult their decision making abilities by telling them they should wait or interview other doulas first. If they have decided on you, honor that the way you honor their choices in birth. If they are still deciding, leave them with a clear plan for how to do that. Maybe you leave your contract with a self addressed stamped envelope, or a fridge magnet with your contact information so they can call or email you to make arrangements for online contracts/payment.
Ask them when they think they’ll be making a decision, but don’t promise to hold a spot on your calendar. If they are unsure, I would just say “let me know as soon as you decide so I can save your spot.” If it is true, I will mention if others have inquired for their due date, but I don’t lie to create pressure that isn’t real.
Don’t be desperate. Hold firm on your prices and policies. It’s an interview, not a negotiation. If clients ask about discounts, I always respond by talking about my payment plans and how they work. Remember that you will not be the best doula for every potential client, and THAT’S OKAY.
Follow up ONCE two to three days after the interview, and then let it go. I always follow up in the same way they have communicated with me throughout the process. If mom texted me to arrange the interview, I follow up with a text to mom. If the communication was email, I follow up by email. I approach follow up by asking “Did you think of anything else you need to know to make your decision?” instead of “What did you decide?” I want that follow up to come across as helpful rather than demanding answer!
You may or may not get hired on your first few doula interviews, but each interview you go to will teach you something about connecting with expectant families, so keep trying!
We all have a limited amount of time and energy for marketing our business. If you’d like to learn more about how to effectively reach the kind of clients you most want to serve, join me in 30 Days to Better Birth Marketing. It starts January 1, and you get a new lesson and task each day for 30 days. Make 2019 the best year yet for your business!