The selection process involved in hiring new talent is a long, thorough affair including choosing the main requirements needed for the role, reviewing submitted resumes, assessing candidates’ backgrounds, conducting lengthy interviews with a short list of candidates, and finally reference and background checks. Given that each corporate job attracts on average about 250 resumes (according to the latest Glassdoor data), selecting talent is far from an easy exercise.

A large portion of any construction leader’s time is devoted to interviewing in the normal course of their business. There is, however, an alarming lack of deliberate efforts to improve this age-old process. We continue to believe we know everything there is to know about interviewing since we have been doing it for so many years that it has become routine. A minor effort directed at analyzing the interviewing methods would provide substantial rewards.


Goals of the interview

There is no doubt that the main purpose of the interview is to obtain verifiable information about a candidate’s qualifications, experiences, and other job-related characteristics. The interview is also a way for employers to assess a candidate’s communication, interpersonal, and problem-solving skills. Furthermore, the interview allows employers to determine whether they are a good fit for the construction company organization’s culture. 

However, the primary intention of an initial interview is to determine whether to invest additional time and proceed to the next round of the process. The interviewer will assess the construction candidate’s value to the organization based on their work history, educational background, strengths, and achievements.

Different factors are appreciated for different positions, but in short, we can formulate the goals of the interview as detailed answers to the following four questions.

  1. Is the prospect a person of high moral character who will demonstrate the required degree of professionalism we look for in a construction industry candidate?
  2. Does the individual possess the necessary knowledge and abilities, or can he or she be trained in a fair length of time?
  3. Is the applicant likely to be a valuable, long-term member of the firm or organization?
  4. Is the candidate a good fit for the position so that he or she and the rest of the team will be productive and happy?

To answer those, executives should build a well-thought-out scenario for the development of dialogue with an applicant.


Planning and preparations

A job interview is not the place for a spontaneous dialogue, regardless of how brilliant you are at speaking on the spot. Recruiting teams or managers that wing it during an interview may appear unprepared or uninterested in the position. Keep in mind that the job seeker examines the interviewer and the organization just as they evaluate them.

Before starting the process of interviewing candidates for a certain role, the recruiter who is responsible for the overall search should find out which aspects of the position are crucial to its success. What characteristics do you look for in a potential employee? What are some of the hard and soft skills that other high performers in your organization have? Considering the requirements, the interviewer should prioritize the various skills, experiences, and education levels that the qualified applicant would possess. 

The next step is to create a list of attributes, talents, and types of experience that the interviewer may use to screen applicants’ resumes and determine the applicants to invite. Before you interview any of the candidates, make sure you have read both the job description and their resume. 

It is the responsibility of the HR manager to set the format of the interview process. To get a vision of how to conduct an interview properly, you need to have a solid understanding of the interview type which is the most suitable.

There are two main types of interviewing styles:

  • Behavioral interviews: In this type of interview, the interviewer asks the candidates to describe specific situations that they have been in. The argument is founded on the idea that previous performance predicts future behavior. The applicant’s actions in the past show how he or she will act in the future. For instance, “Describe a time when you were dealing with a stressful situation and your coping skills were put to the test”. 
  • Situational interviews: The situational approach is an interview technique that provides the candidate with a hypothetical scenario or event and focuses on the candidate’s past experiences, behavior patterns, knowledge, skills, and competencies by asking the candidate to provide specific examples of how he or she would respond in the described situation. 

Determining the mode of the questions that will be utilized during the interview is an important topic that is discussed in more detail below.

Set a day and time for a planning meeting, inviting people who should be there such as coworkers, indirect but interested management, or internal customers of the role. Free up 10-15 minutes before and after each interview. It is preferable not to keep candidates waiting as you finish a meeting, or to rush them out if you have a meeting immediately following the interview.

Find a place that is peaceful and private where you can speak without losing your train of thought. You may feel at ease with your colleagues in the room, but if your candidate believes that others are listening in, the pressure will increase. If a reservation is required, the interviewer must book a place in advance. Fumbling around in an attempt to find an empty room or a missing coworker while the applicant is loitering in reception will not reflect well on your organization.

76% of job seekers want to know how long it’s going to take to fill out an application before they start, according to Careerbuilder. Time frames are important for both applications and interviewers, and therefore, preparing an interview schedule is significant. Interviews that are completely unstructured and in which the interviewer improvises are ineffective. By creating an agenda, you’ll be able to direct the debate more effectively and ensure that you don’t overlook any relevant concepts.


Questions are essential

Interviewers need to be aware of how to get the information they need out of the candidates they interview. It doesn’t require a complicated method, but you need to do more than just question potential applicants if they have the necessary abilities and qualities. In the most recent school of thought regarding how to conduct job interviews, it is recommended that employers ask applicants about particular instances that occurred in the workplace.

In general, there are three types of questions that can be asked in an interview:

Open-ended questions: 

These are questions that cannot be answered with a yes or no answer. They require the interviewee to elaborate on their response. Open-ended questions are used to obtain information about the interviewee’s qualifications, experiences, and other job-related characteristics.

Some examples of open-ended questions include:

  • Tell me about your qualifications for this job.
  • What experiences do you have that make you a good fit for this role?
  • What do you know about our organization?
  • Why are you interested in this job?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Closed-ended questions

These are questions that can be answered with a yes or no answer. They are used to clarify or follow up on information provided by the interviewee. Closed-ended questions might aid the interviewer in directing the conversation.

However, such questions can have disadvantages. They do not encourage candidates to elaborate on their thoughts and preferences regarding specific themes. They restrict the capacity of applicants to discuss their competencies and can leave issues unresolved or ambiguous. Furthermore, the candidates who wish to explain or express key information may be frustrated by those.

Listed below are examples of closed-ended questions:

  • How many years of team management experience do you have?
  • When did you leave your last job?
  • Did you and your prior manager have a productive relationship?
  • Have you worked remotely before? 
  • What was your most challenging case?

Probing questions:

These are questions that are used to gather more information about a particular topic. They usually follow up on an answer that the candidate has given (so there are often called follow-ups). Probes cannot be planned for qualitative interviewing. It is impossible to predict what relevant problem the person will bring up and how you will need to delve further to understand more. However, familiarity with probing and basic probing techniques is advantageous. Classic examples include:

  • Could you provide me with more information?
  • I’m not completely sure I comprehended …
  • Could you give me some examples?
  • You referred to… Could you provide additional details? 
  • What makes you feel that way?

While conducting the interview, you should remember any relevant legal issues. Questions pertaining directly or indirectly to age, sex, ethnicity, national origin, color, religion, genetics, or disability must be completely avoided. If requested information about a candidate falls into any of these categories, the interviewer must ensure that the question relates to a genuine occupational qualification or is required by federal or state legislation. Read Federal Discrimination Laws for more detail.


Guiding and listening

Both the interviewer and the applicant may experience anxiety during the interviewing process. It is typical for a candidate to feel nervous, thus interviewers should attempt to put the applicant at ease as soon as he or she enters the room. By making the candidate feel at ease, the interviewer has a greater opportunity of gaining a good understanding of the applicant’s skills and character.

Greet warmly, shake hands, make eye contact, and smile. Introduce yourself and the organization and explain the purpose, format, and time frames of the interview. Ask if there is anything that the interviewee would like to know before starting.

To begin the question section, start with general questions that allow candidates to introduce themselves and explore how they would add value to the position. While you want the candidate to be able to respond freely and spontaneously, you may need to pace the interview so you can ask all of your questions. If a candidate is lingering too long on a particular subject, you can offer to move on gently.

Even if you want the conversation to flow organically, an interview is not a normal back-and-forth. Your primary duty during an interview is to listen. By speaking excessively, you run the risk of encouraging them to provide the responses you desire. You should avoid delivering explicitly positive or negative answers to whatever the candidate says for the same reason. The 80/20 ratio is a useful baseline for the interviewer: 80% listening and 20% talking.

It is important to take notes during the interview but don’t forget to allow the candidate to speak freely. This means that you should not interrupt or talk over the candidate. If you have a question, make sure to wait until they are finished speaking before asking it. 

The interview is a standard component of the hiring process, but most construction companies lack a standardized method for managing the process. How you do an interview, however, impacts both you and your organization. A disorganized procedure will convince top candidates to seek employment elsewhere, whereas a well-planned, efficient experience will help convince them to work with you.

If you would like to discuss additional best practices around interviewing candidates for your construction company, book a call with the Raymond Search Group team HERE we would be happy to share with you how some of the most successful construction leaders are doing it.