Interview Guide – Construction Professionals

Construction is among the leading industries in Canada employing about 1 in 15 Canadians. Whether you’re a General Contractor or an Engineer or Trade Supervisor, asking the right interview questions will guide you in hiring the right mix of proven skills and personal attributes.  

Interview Questions

  1. How many years of experience do you have in the construction industry?
  2. Can you offer a synopsis of the role in which you started and how you have progressed?
  3. What is your educational background? If you were described as being a specialist, or highly skilled in a few areas, what would they be?
  4. On what type of construction sites have you worked (residential vs commercial, large vs small, office, industrial, retail, multi-residential)?
  5. Describe your most recent construction project—include size and scope, construction value and square footage. Please outline the skills gained and difficulties you encountered.
  6. What is the most complex project you have worked on and what issues did you encounter? Describe your experience reading and interpreting architectural plans and electrical drawings.
  7. Have you ever been responsible for managing workers on-site? If so, in what capacity?
  8. Have you ever dealt with an injury on a job site? What happened and what was your role?
  9. Have you ever been in a client-facing role? If so, describe your interaction with the client.
  10. Throughout your experience, have you worked primarily with property owners, contractors, or subcontractors?
  11. In your opinion, what is the ideal project? Please explain.
  12. What position / role would you like to have in five years within the industry?
  13. Construction projects are highly team-based. How did you fit into this structure as team leader or support? Can you describe the team dynamic you felt worked best and why?
  1. What types of projects have you worked on—please outline the project type, construction value and square footage?
  2. Were the projects mostly fit ups and renovations, or new projects?
  3. Were you the sole site superintendent for the project? Were you the site superintendent for the entire project, from excavation to finishes? At what point in the project were you able to move to another project or site?
  4. Please describe your relationship with the sub-trades. How were the trades organized, chosen and what expectations did you set?
  5. In your career, describe the relationship between the Site Superintendent and the architect or Owner.
  6. Were you responsible for estimating construction, electrical and / or mechanical components?
  7. Were your projects completed on-time? When they weren’t on time, how did you address management and / or your client? What was your role in construction planning and scheduling?
  8. Were your projects within budget? If not, how did obtain approval to go over? What is your perspective on the balance between quality of construction, with the budget and schedule?
  9. How did you manage the labour on-site to be sure work was getting done? How did you address poor performers?
  10. What mistakes did you observe most frequently and how did you reduce these occurrences?
  11. Were you involved in construction law as it relates to contract documents, bylaws, building codes, liens and disputes? What legal elements did you engage in most?
  12. What was your involvement in risk management?
  1. How did you transition into management and how did your educational background contribute to your management development?
  2. How many construction sites have you managed simultaneously? What type of projects did you oversee? How big were the teams? What was the budget for each?
  3. Did you manage on or off-site? If both, explain how you had to modify your approach. Did you manage all relationships with other construction professionals such as architects, engineers, buyers, estimators and surveyors?
  4. Did you liaise directly with clients, subcontractors and / or suppliers?
  5. How did you set-up construction schedules? What was your involvement in risk management, including environmental risks, financial and cash flow risks, contractual commitments, etc.?
  6. How often did you perform progress updates and with whom?
  7. How did you address situations in which the project was not on time and / or within budget? How did you address quality issues?
  8. What tools or project software did you use to measure and manage projects?
  9. What type of pre-construction safety checks did you complete?
  10. What has been your greatest challenge?
  11. Have you dealt with neighboring issues, permits and legal agreements? Please describe.
  12. Have you attended meetings with municipalities or governments to obtain approvals, or address variances? Please describe.
  13. Describe your role in the payments process and obtaining consultant progress approval?
  14. In your experience, when is the ideal time for the owner to bring the Construction Manager to the table with the Design / Construction team?
  1. The Project Engineer may be the Project Manager and Engineer combined, or have an independent role that bridges the other roles together. Describe your role as Project Engineer. Were you the primary technical point of contact for the project?
  2. Here is a list of various functions of the Project Engineer. Please detail your experience in each area:
  • Shop drawing and construction plan review
  • Schedule preparation
  • Design interpretation with tradespeople
  • Resource forecasting
  • Change order management
  • Financial forecasting and budgeting
  • Performance management of vendors and contract administration
  • Management of project resources
  • Training project resources
  • Establish project controls
  • Quality control of work completed
  • Tracking receipts and progress of payments
  • Material procurement
  • Preparing and overseeing policies
  1. Describe some of the projects you have managed (value, size of team, duration of project, etc).
  2. Were you the sole Project Manager?
  3. Did you take care of the estimates, budgets and costs for the project?
  4. How many people reported directly to you?
  5. How would you describe your management style? Describe a situation in which you had an employee or sub-contractor that was under-performing and how you managed it?<br.
  6. Do you have any formal project management training and / or certifications?
  8. Describe your method for keeping a project on schedule.
  9. Have you dealt directly with the end user of the building?
  10. Do you have experience seeking city approvals (zoning, construction permits, variances)?
  11. What is the most common cause of construction cost overruns?<br.
  12. What is your philosophy on change orders and how must they be managed?<br.
  13. Have you been involved in the recruitment of project personnel? Please explain.
  14. </br.
  16. Have you been involved with the selecting and negotiating with sub-trades?
  17. Describe your process for terminating an employee (from performance management and discipline, to dismissal). How did you ensure that your actions were in line with all labour laws and employment standards?
  1. What types of properties have you managed (office, industrial, multi-residential) or do you currently manage? How many properties do you manage at one time?
  2. Do you have leasing experience?
  3. What steps did you take to develop strong tenant relationships?
  4. Did you build a team of technicians, superintendents, custodians, etc.? If so, who did you hire and train? How did you ensure the team was adequately motivated?
  5. How did you foster a culture of collaboration?
  6. Did you have a code of conduct in place for the contractors or employees?
  7. What experience do you have marketing properties?
  8. Do you have contract negotiation experience related to building operations and maintenance? Please explain.
  9. What maintenance schedules did you set and adhere to?
  10. Were you responsible for daily or weekly inspections (building, windows, outdoor grounds, emergency lights, fire extinguishers, elevators, parking, mechanical, electrical, boiler rooms, etc.)?
  11. How was waste handled in the properties you managed?
  12. For which safety and security issues did you plan, and what procedures or actions did you take to ensure the safety of the premises? What on-call response was available for after hours emergencies?
  13. How did you measure tenant satisfaction?
  14. What was the most common complaint you managed?
  15. What environmental factors came into play?
  16. Did you provide monthly or annual budgets?
  17. Do you have knowledge of building systems?
  18. Are you a member of industry associations? If so, which ones?
  19. What is your experience with WHMIS? Did your role include the protection of privacy under PIPEDA?
  20. What property management and maintenance software to you use? Did you use an ERP tool such as SAP?
  21. Was your accounting department local or centralized?
  22. What is your LEED or BOMA BEST experience?
  1. Describe the type of contracts you drafted and evaluated.
  2. What was your role in negotiating contracts?
  3. Did you negotiate directly with the customer or was this done via lawyers, or other parties?
  4. What types of contracts have you worked with (purchase agreements, subcontracts, licensing agreements, terms and conditions, distribution agreements, non-disclosure)?
  5. Have you maintained contractual records and documentation associated with project changes? How did you ensure follow-up when additional information was requested or in process?
  6. Did you provide guidance on contract matters to project managers?
  7. What other departments did you liaise with (risk management, finance, legal, marketing, etc.)?
  8. How did you communicate the terms of conditions for master agreements, and ensure contract awareness across the company?
  1. What product class do you specialize in (office, industrial, institutional, residential, etc.) and at what construction values?
  2. Define your role within the team? Were you the Project Architect or support? What were your team’s strengths?
  3. What client consultation did you undertake (evaluation of project site, budget, design, materials, building systems, environmental factors, procurement, approval, tendering, schedule, construction administration, etc.)?
  4. Describe your role during the municipal or city approval process, including zoning, permits to occupancy.
  5. What sub-contractors and consultants did you gain input from (engineers, geotechnical consultants, surveyors, interior designers, space planners, etc)?
  6. What standard form of agreements did you have in place with owners and / or builders?
  7. How important is being Prime on a project?
  8. How did you define and set limits on the scope of work?
  9. During construction, to what extent did you engage in contract administration?
  10. What did you do when the work did not meet your design intent?
  11. Describe a time when the site conditions were different than anticipated. What adjustments had to be made?
  12. What was your involvement in the review of the builder / contractor’s expectations for payment at various progress points? How did you address defective work in the context of payment expectations?
  13. Under what circumstances were tests and inspections initiated?
  14. What was your role in making change orders?
  15. In what stage of the project are your skills most evident?
  1. What type of projects have you designed or detailed (municipal, commercial, industrial, residential, custom residential, etc.)?
  2. Were you involved in renovations / restorations, or new construction? Did you handle construction administration?
  3. What is the largest project you’ve worked on in terms of type, square footage and budget?
  4. Did you prepare construction drawings independently or as part of a team? Did you prepare specifications or work with a Specifications Consultant?
  5. Describe your experience with construction contracts and tendering.
  6. Describe your technical knowledge of current building envelope principles.
  7. Were you a part of project approvals?
  8. Did you attend site meetings? If so, with whom?
  9. Did you produce feasibility studies and surveys?
  10. Please detail your experience in developing plans related to waterproofing, cladding, wall systems and roofing.
  11. Who did you deal with most frequently: clients, architects, contractors, suppliers, design professionals, consultants, engineers, builders, project managers?
  12. Can you use both Auto Cad and Revit?
  13. Have you ever relied on MS Project, MS Excel, Adobe or Sketch-Up, Photoshop and WordPress?
  14. Do you hold a BCIN number? NOTE: this may not be a requirement under a licensed Architect.
  15. Do you have experience with product take-offs and estimates?
  16. Do you have a vehicle and valid Drivers License?
  17. Are you a member of any industry associations?
  18. Do you have LEED certification?
  1. Please describe what landscapes you have designed – outdoor public areas, parks or playgrounds, golf courses, structures, highways, bridges, corporate office parks, commercial, campus, private estates, large scale residential, waterfronts, or mixed use development? In what setting: urban, suburban, rural?
  2. What was the most significant environmental challenge you’ve faced? Have you worked with landfills? Have you created a green roof?
  3. Describe a time that you were displeased with the aesthetic outcome of a project.
  4. Among the following, what areas have you been most engaged in: landscape design; site planning; storm water management; restoration; botany and horticulture; soil management; site servicing and grading coordination.
  5. What was your role in design and construction management?
  6. Did you manage project financials?
  7. Have you dealt with ecological sustainability and / or groups that represent the environment?
  8. Describe a project to which you made use of space in a unique way.
  9. Describe a project in which you added an element of fine arts or visual flair.
  10. Did you use AutoCad, Sketch-Up, Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop, etc.? What versions / years?
  11. Did you render 3D drawings?
  12. Did you conduct presentations you drew freehand?
  13. Are you a member of any national organizations or regulatory bodies?
  14. Have you completed LARE exams?
  15. Do you have LEED accreditation?
  1. Describe how you ensured compliance with building codes when examining plans and drawings. What areas were of greatest concern to you?
  2. Did you inspect mainly new buildings, new construction, or renovations? What did you find to be the difference in terms of inspection and quality control?
  3. What was your role in the inspection and testing of electrical or plumbing installations? Describe compliance items under municipal, provincial and federal regulations.
  4. Were you tasked with inspecting steel framework, concrete forms, reinforcing steel mesh and rods, concrete or pre-stressed concrete to ensure conformance to specifications? What issues came up most often with quality standards?
  5. Did you write technical reports? If so, for whom and how did you present your findings?
  1. Have you closed large tenders on your own? What is the value of the largest project you have estimated? Please define the project by type (commercial, institutional, residential), construction value and square footage.
  2. Did you prepare instructions to bidders, trade clarifications and bid packages?
  3. What’s your experience in BIM and Revit? What other estimate software did you rely on?
  4. What strategies have you developed to increase the chances for a successful proposal?
  5. Did you produce complete estimates? What steps do you take for cost controls?
  6. How did you garner subcontractor participation?
  7. What negotiations have you entered into with suppliers and trades?
  8. Do you have experience writing comprehensive replies to RFPs and proposals or was that someone else’s responsibility, to which you would supply the cost elements of the project and they would do full RFP responses?
  9. Have you used industry costing guides as part of your estimation package?
  10. To what extent did you outline the quality of sub-trades and suppliers?
  1. What is your knowledge of the Occupational Health and Safety Act? Are you familiar with the differences across provinces?
  2. Have you been responsible for new employee orientation and / or training regarding safety measures, emergency exits, First Aid, etc.? What areas of safety did you emphasize?
  3. Did you participate or lead job site inspections?
  4. What was the most significant accident that occurred on one of the job sites or projects you were on? Was it preventable? Did you conduct accident investigations?
  5. Did you gather and analyze Health and Safety statistics and report on trends?
  6. Did your role include back-to-work programs? If so, how did you help a worker get back to work after an injury? What steps did you take to assess the severity or complexity of an injury? Did you engage with the employee’s medical team?
  7. How did you address accommodation requirements?
  8. What policies and procedures associated with Health and Safety did you create / implement?Workplace harassment is an issue companies have to manage (physical, verbal, sexual and the threat of violence). What is your experience in preventing harassment and violence at work?

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