What Constitutes a GOOD Construction Job Interview?
I hear the following responses from candidates post construction job interview rather more often than I'd like: “Yeah, it was ok” or “It was just a general interview, nothing special”. And then other times they’ll react quite differently with “Yeah, it was great! Mr X and I got on very well…our sons go to the same school!” etc. This distinction will most likely dictate why a candidate would take an offer from Construction Company A and not Construction Company B. The reasons for the difference in the above responses are probably more obvious and straightforward than you might think. From countless conversations I have had with engineering and planning candidates, I can pin point some key tips and suggestions that will help you achieve a 'good interview.'
1) Be Prepared
It makes sense for you to research the engineering or contracting company you’re interviewing for and the position/project involved. You want to impress your potential employer, showcase your enthusiasm and understand their company structure. However, you do not have to go overboard. There is also an obligation from the interviewer to explain their side and of course, having questions to ask is always a good sign to further reinforce your interest. The worst thing either side can do is to assume. As a candidate, do not assume you don’t need to research the company just because you are highly qualified, extensively experienced and basically “tick all the boxes”. This sort of complacency can turn people off completely and create a bad reputation, especially in such a tight knit industry like construction!
Practical preparation should not be overlooked either! Find out exactly where you are going and at what time – it is best to arrive at the venue 10 – 15 minutes before the scheduled interview time in case there is pre-interview paperwork, registration etc. You should also know who you are interviewing with and who to contact on the day. This should be clarified well in advance giving you more time to research the person you will be speaking to!
2) Be Friendly
Does this go without saying?! Surprisingly, no! A fundamental key to successful interviews is for both sides to get along. This is difficult to accomplish when one person has a frown plastered on their face and answers in monosyllables. Some people are naturally introverted and take a backseat when it comes to speaking openly. This does not mean they wouldn’t be able to do the job. Relax and take it a step at a time, answering questions with succinct, thought out responses.
3) Be Open
An interviewer will definitely have a set list of criteria they are looking for from a candidate. It would be very easy to ask questions 1, 2 and 3 and gain adequate answers 1, 2 and 3. However, I think a natural discussion never really goes like this. It sidetracks. It digresses. And it is within this digression that the interviewee can get to KNOW the interviewer and vice versa. It becomes a conversation rather than a monologue from either party. That is why a good interview will never last only 15 minutes. You should not be afraid of an interview veering off topic – if something is mentioned that sparks interest, ask about it! Also, by creating a conversation out of these questions, the process will become more relaxing and you'll probably feel comfortable giving deeper, more meaningful answers. That said, there must be a certain balance to the dialogue. Give time for each side to speak and avoid taking over with long, drawn out answers.
4) Be There for a Reason
Within a busy construction market, taking time out to attend an interview is sometimes difficult. Because of this, make sure the interview has a solid purpose – whether that is a specific role within a specific project, or an opportunity for you to join the company at a later date. Bear in mind that you'll be creating a relationship that will hopefully serve you well in the future. Usually, a company advertises a certain position because they have that immediate requirement. However, if this is NOT the case, then make sure you as a candidate express your genuine desire and interest to work for the company.
5) Be Conclusive (to an Extent!)
At the end of an interview, a candidate needs to know the next steps – or if there will actually be any next steps! It is fine to ask how to proceed or who you will be hearing from next. Understand exactly what the time frame is in which you are to receive feedback. If they say you will hear within one week, accept this and wait one week. If you do not hear within the time period discussed, then you of course have the option to chase up feedback.
In the unfortunate instance where you receive a rejection, don’t simply accept this and move on – you need to know WHY you were rejected. Ask for the real reasons – was it your lack of specific experience? Were you asking for an unrealistic salary? All of this constructive feedback will allow you to excel at your next interview and hopefully improve on your skills and career development.
Maxim Recruitment Hong Kong