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Interview Questions to ask when Hiring Construction Workers

Interview Questions to ask when Hiring Construction Workers

By: Dona DeZube 

Some industries, including construction and manufacturing, face the challenge of recruiting workers who lack a resume. A job application can collect basic information to help screen candidates for skills and experience. Yet it won’t tell you how job seekers apply their skills and abilities, behave on the job, or what they accomplished in prior positions. 

Even when you combine word-of-mouth with a job tryout, you can end up with unexpected results. Jim Mckenzie, a Clarksville, Maryland, construction crew manager recalled how hiring an “experienced” roofing crewmember via a referral a few years ago went awry.

“The first day on the job the new guy goes up on the roof and is clearly terrified of heights,” Mckenzie said. Turns out the worker hadn’t lied about his experience during the interview; he just neglected to mention that he’d only done shed roofs. Mckenzie helped him down off the roof, sent him home, and started looking for a replacement crewmember.

That’s why when you interview without a resume, it’s critical to ask questions that delve into those areas. And the easiest way to dig deep is to ask behavioral interview questions.   

Behavioral interview questions probe how someone actually handled a task or situation in a prior job. They can help you focus on how a candidate gets a task done, how they will fit in with your company culture or how they will tackle day to day challenges.

For example, behavioral interview questions could help shed light on prior workplace conditions: What is the dirtiest environment you’ve ever worked in? How did you cope with that challenge?

To create behavioral interview questions, make a list of the ten most important job tasks, workplace challenges and personal characteristics needed to succeed in the job. The job description can be a good place to find some of those. 

For each item, write one behavioral or situational question and jot down a few follow-up questions you might ask to probe for more details.

Here are some behavioral interview questions to get you started with your interview preparation. 

Carpenter: 
-    Which hand tools and power tools do you own? Which do you use best? 
-    What safety training have you done? 
-    Have you ever had a job where you traveled 100%? 
-    How did you cope with being away from home and around your co-workers so much?

Project Manager: 
-    What’s the biggest challenge you faced in getting workers to comply with safety rules? 
-    What’s the best deal you’ve ever negotiated with a vendor or subcontractor?

Scheduler: 
-    What caused the biggest slippage you’ve ever had to manage? How did you regain the slippage? 
-    Tell me about a time you changed how you worked with a team to make a project more efficient.

Plumber: 
-    Do you prefer to work alone or on a team? 
-    Tell me about a time when an unclear or incomplete plan led to a disagreement. How did you handle it?

Construction Laborer: 
-    Have you worn safety equipment in any of your previous jobs? 
-    Do you own any safety equipment, like steel-toed boots or a hard hat? 
-    What kind of safety hazards did you encounter that wearing this equipment helped you avoid?

When you don’t have a resume to refer to in the interview process, tailor your interview questions to uncover a candidate’s real-world experience. Use the conversation to create a mental road map of responsibilities, capabilities, and the applicant’s fit.

Asking the right questions will help give you and your new hires greater peace of mind. 

Learn more:

Here’s how Top Companies find Construction Workers
Construction Hiring is Growing in these Areas
Construction: Let's Get Hiring!