What education and/or training do you have that relates to your work?
I devote a regular number of hours every week to study and practice. One must to stay current.
And I use what I recommend. Because it is the best available.
What types of customers have you worked with?
I work with a board variety of clients.
Home users who have tired of viruses, malware, and crashes come to me to give them stable, simple, and reliable systems.
B2B services providers come to me to have their systems improved and to learn new techniques.
Executives come to me to provided them with systems and training to access their essential business information.
Businesses come to me to get simple and stable systems with low cost of maintenance.
What advice would you give a customer looking to hire a provider in your area of work?
Focus on the result you want, not the problem you currently have.
You want to make an X or do Y.
Tell the consultant what you want to do.
Let the consultant talk to you about how to get to your solutions. That conversation will tell you what you need to know about the consultant.
Beware consultants who know only one solution to any problem. One size does not fit all. (eg Flash is not how to build every website.)
Look for someone with experience who knows things often don't go as expected. I always have a Plan B.
Not every consultant fits every customer. People good at their work take pride in their work and readily say what they cannot do. If you believe every "yes, can do" answer, you will quickly find disappointment.
What questions should customers think through before talking to professionals about their project?
The field of computers is huge from the very specialized to the very general, from individual systems to very large installations.
And service providers vary just as much. Take the time to find a professional who fits your needs. Doing so will save you money and time, and avoid problems in the long run.