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Why this matters:

This industry is all about versatility, and the most desirable construction workers are comfortable working across a range of projects. Building up experience takes time, but they should be confident doing everything from masonry jobs to erecting scaffolding. And if they’re new to the job market, they’ll hopefully be enthusiastic about getting started. 

What to listen for:

  • Look for signs that the candidate can fluidly explain their roles and skip between different responsibilities.
  • Listen for signs that they’re keen to get out of their comfort zone and take on more challenging roles.

Why this matters:

Employers always want to hire someone who can prove that they’ll keep themselves and their colleagues safe. That is doubly true in construction, where there are a vast number of potential hazards. Candidates should therefore be explicit about safe work practices—inspecting equipment or wearing hardhats—and vigilant about potential problems. Apart from proving their dedication to their work, then, this question gets to the core of a candidate’s respect for others.

What to listen for:

  • Listen out for references to professional qualifications, such as NCCER certificates. An understanding of national or local safety regulations is important too.
  • A willingness to put health and safety first, even if that means longer work days.

Why this matters:

Without an understanding of blueprints and electrical drawings, working in construction is impossible. Candidates should therefore be comfortable talking about their experience on the technical side of new builds—and interpret drawings on the fly if you show them one at the interview. Construction is about far more than hard graft and long hours, in other words, and this is the perfect chance for candidates to prove they understand that.

What to listen for:

  • An ability to talk fluently about blueprints, and an appreciation of their importance across the industry.
  • Answers should recognize that asking for help is sometimes necessary, and that checking a plan with a foreman first will often save time and expense later.

Why this matters:

This question forces candidates to give practical examples of what they can do. No answer is absolutely right—though good candidates might describe working long hours, liaising with foremen to improve safety processes, or encouraging new colleagues. This question is a chance for candidates to show their passion, and reveals if they have the fire and discipline to make a positive difference to your team.

What to listen for:

  • Experienced workers should immediately be able to think of an example, and describe what they did in detail.
  • If candidates are new to the field, they should still be able to describe their successes in other jobs, and how they might relate to construction.

Why this matters:

This question lets candidates show they’d put their team first. Solid organization is crucial across all construction sites—clocking off with the area still a mess is totally unacceptable. The best workers will therefore describe how they would tidy up building materials before going home, helping their colleagues the next day. Even better, candidates should be clear that discipline ultimately saves money, as it lets workers quickly find the materials they need to complete the job at hand.

What to listen for:

  • An understanding that good housekeeping is important for efficiency and site safety.
  • Listen out for real-world examples. All experienced construction workers will have worked late one time or another—and should be willing to put in the time even if they’re fixing someone else’s mess.

Why this matters:

A willingness to confront a colleague if they were working unsafely shows bravery and an interest in others. It’s also important from a practical perspective—unsafe construction sites will quickly be closed down and their workers punished. This question therefore blends two fundamentals of modern construction—safety and efficiency—and lets a candidate show they understand that construction is about more than hard graft.

What to listen for:

  • The best answers outline the situation, what their role was in it, what action they took (and why), and the result of their actions.
  • The ability to give useful advice showcases diligence, and the fact that a candidate is not simply looking out for themselves.

Why this matters:

Time management is important in most professions—but for construction workers, it’s fundamental. Construction firms thrive or die based on if they’re able to complete builds on time and to budget, and even small delays can be costly. Candidates should therefore be confident that they’re able to split their time efficiently, quickly grasping how long different tasks will take. Of course, sometimes illness or the weather makes outdoor work impossible. In these situations, workers should be willing to put in extra hours to get a project done.

What to listen for:

  • A broad recognition of the specific challenges and flexible time commitment that comes with a career in construction.
  • A desire to work as a team to divide work efficiently, even if that means taking charge and delegating responsibility.

Why this matters:

Though there are plenty of useful courses construction workers can take, there’ll always be a certain amount of training on the job. Knowledgeable candidates will be able to reflect on this themselves, perhaps describing how an older colleague showed them the ropes earlier in their career. They should also be open to returning the favor, and explaining life in a construction yard to new arrivals. This question, in other words, promotes selflessness and teamwork.

What to listen for

  • Good workers will show empathy and an understanding that colleagues may need time to get acquainted with a new project or site.
  • An ability to talk about construction without slipping into buzzwords or jargon. The best teachers can explain a concept in layman’s terms.

Why this matters:

Between the long hours and tiring physical labor, a life in building can be tough. But it can also be hugely rewarding. From spending your days outside to bonding with your team and learning eminently practical skills, there are plenty of reasons to love construction. In other words, though they should be aware of the challenges, the best candidates will be enthusiastic to get going at your firm, and this question gives them a chance to prove their passion.

What to listen for:

  • Look for evidence they’ve examined your website and can give specific reasons—perhaps the projects you work on—why they want to work with you.
  • Note enthusiasm for the profession, and answers authentically and in detail.
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