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Why this matters:

Construction laborers need to be familiar with basic hand tools such as power drills, saws, measuring equipment, or nail guns. Depending on the project and the laborer’s role, familiarity with more complex devices such as jackhammers, power generators, or air compressors may be necessary. In addition, candidates should have experience handling various construction materials such as glass, metal, cement, and wood.

What to listen for:

  • Experience operating basic construction equipment
  • Familiarity with specialized equipment
  • Experience handling different types of construction materials

Why this matters:

Construction is a dangerous job, full of hazards. Candidates must know how and when to correctly wear personal protective equipment (PPE), from hard hats to steel-toed boots, safety vests, safety glasses and gloves, and protective respiratory equipment. Familiarity with task-specific PPE is essential, too, such as safety harnesses in elevated environments or flame-resistant clothing related to welding.

What to listen for:

  • Ability to list basic PPE
  • A solid understanding of the importance of using PPE onsite
  • Familiarity with task-specific PPE

Why this matters:

Construction is a physically demanding job. Laborers need the stamina to perform heavy manual labor for long hours and in all types of climates. They should have the physical strength to lift heavy loads and operate heavy equipment like jackhammers. They also need to demonstrate strong hand-eye and limb coordination, enabling the safe performance of hammering, drilling, and the like.

What to listen for:

  • Experience in a manual labor role
  • Willingness to work in a variety of weather conditions
  • Experience doing detailed work

Why this matters:

Each construction project demands different skills, tools, procedures, and risks. Construction laborers should have the ability to work in and adapt to a variety of construction sites and conditions. They should be familiar with multiple construction tasks, tools, and materials. Ideal candidates will have experience working on projects similar to those they will be laboring in.

What to listen for:

  • Experience working in multiple types of construction
  • Ability to learn quickly
  • Experience working on similar projects

Why this matters:

Construction sites are rife with hazards. Laborers should have the training to protect against them (inspecting and maintaining equipment, staying alert, wearing PPE, reporting unsafe conditions) — or deal swiftly with the consequences, if anything goes wrong. Candidates should be willing to comply with safety regulations as well.

What to listen for:

  • Solid understanding of common construction site hazards
  • Ability to respond quickly and proactively to perceived risks
  • Familiarity with construction safety protocols

Why this matters:

Construction work can be unpredictable. Inclement weather, equipment malfunctions, accidents, unexpected building conditions, subcontractor dependencies, and similar setbacks call for patience and flexibility. Candidates should have an adaptable mindset and be able to troubleshoot through any problems or barriers. They should demonstrate a can-do attitude.

What to listen for:

  • Flexibility, adaptability, and resilience
  • Good communication skills
  • Excellent problem-solving and critical thinking skills

Why this matters:

All construction projects require the collaboration of multiple teams, tradespeople, and other specialists to succeed, making communication, collaboration, and relationship building keys to success at all times. It’s also important for candidates to be able to smoothly team with people that are from diverse backgrounds.

What to listen for:

  • A positive and productive view of teamwork
  • An emphasis on the importance of communication
  • Ability to work well with people of different backgrounds

Why this matters:

Construction sites bring together people from a multitude of backgrounds to work under stressful and even extreme conditions. Effectively handling conflict is essential to ensuring that team dynamics remain productive, and deadlines and goals are met. Candidates should understand the importance of listening, de-escalating, and communicating clearly for conflict resolution.

What to listen for:

  • Ability to work productively with others
  • Track record of positive relationships with peers
  • Good conflict management skills

Why this matters:

As in any field, construction is constantly changing, with the introduction of innovative tools, machinery, materials, and techniques. Candidates should be open to learning new skills and technologies. It’s a bonus if your candidate shows an interest in coaching or assisting others.

What to listen for:

  • Openness to learning
  • The ability to learn new skills quickly
  • A willingness to assist and coach teammates
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