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3 Types of Interview Questions to Ask to Hire the Best Construction Job Candidate

Combined, these questions help determine a candidate’s experience and gauge their ability to do the work.

Rikka Brandon

August 17, 2023

4 Min Read
Two construction professionals shake hands over a blueprint for a project
EyeEm/Alamy Stock Photo

One of the easiest and most effective approaches to interviewing job candidates is asking a mix of three types of questions—functional, behavioral and situational—at the right points in the interview process. Combined, these questions help determine a candidate’s experience and gauge their ability to do the job, helping you make the best hire. 

Here’s a breakdown of the three types of questions and how they work. 

1. Functional  

Functional interview questions can help determine if an applicant can do the job you need them to do. They focus on what the individual has done. 

At their base level, functional questions require only a yes or no answer. However, savvy interviewers know valuable information can be gained by asking a functional interview question to lead to follow-up questions. Taking the initial question a step further allows for a clearer understanding of the candidate’s knowledge and experience. 

Here are a few examples of functional interview questions: 

  • General questions: 

    • Have you ever done [the key responsibility of the role]? 

    • Have you used [software pertinent to the role]? 

  • Management questions: 

    • Have you ever managed a team of people? 

    • Have you ever had to provide corrective or disciplinary action to an employee? 

    • Have you ever had to fire someone? 

    • Have you ever had profit and loss responsibility for a [insert amount] budget? 

  • Sales and marketing questions: 

    • Have you ever developed a marketing plan? 

    • Have you ever sold [this product]? 

    • Have you ever sold to [this type of customer]? 

2. Behavioral  

Behavioral interview questions provide a glimpse into how a candidate has approached problems, handled different situations and dealt with complex challenges in the past.  

This type of question shouldn’t stand alone and require the hiring manager to actively listen and request clarification or qualification until you understand. Often, the greatest value comes outside the scope of an initial answer. 

Asking about a specific example or situation can help determine if the candidate’s style or approach will work in this role and your organization. 

Here are a few examples of behavioral interview questions: 

  • Tell me about a time that you went above and beyond for a customer. 

  • Give me an example of a time that a coworker frustrated you and how you handled it. 

  • Describe a situation when you had to resolve conflict in the workplace. 

  • Tell me about a time you set a goal and achieved it. 

  • Tell me about a time you set a goal and didn’t achieve it. 

  • Tell me about a time you had to make a difficult decision. 

These questions set the stage for job applicants to highlight their skills, experience and approach in the workplace.  

However, the true value of behavioral questions is that they can help determine if the candidate can listen and follow instructions. Take the following example: 

Interviewer: “Tell me about a time that you went above and beyond for a customer.” 

Candidate: “Well, at ABC Company, we prided ourselves on the customer always being right. It allowed me to really go above and beyond in many ways.” 

This is an articulate response—but it doesn’t answer the question. Most people will provide a specific answer once you ask the question a second time, but some will believe they already answered the question and may become annoyed because you are asking them the same thing repeatedly. Meanwhile, you’re learning they may struggle to follow spoken instructions. 

3. Situational  

A situational interview question requires job seekers to respond to a specific hypothetical situation they may face on the job. These will help determine how the candidate will likely behave, how they solve problems and handle stressful situations and how they will get along with the team. 

Similar to behavioral questions, situational interview questions are designed to “short circuit” memorized answers and force the applicant to think on their feet. The main difference between the two is that behavioral questions focus on the past and situational questions focus on the future.

To get the most value from situational interview questions, think deeply about the open position and develop specific and relevant questions. 

Here are a few examples of situational questions:  

  • Multitasking 

    • “A customer is walking in, the phone is ringing and a coworker needs help making a copy. Walk me through how you’d handle these competing needs for your attention.” 

  • Sales client relationships 

    • “How would you build a relationship with a potential customer who just came through the door? Walk me through how you’d approach them and understand their needs.” 

  • Customer relationships and retention 

    • “How would you handle a client who was angry with you over something that wasn’t your fault?” 

Rikka Brandon is a nationally recognized building industry recruiting and hiring expert and best-selling author. She helps building industry business owners and leaders solve their recruiting and retention challenges with strategy, best practices and access to experts. Whether or not you're looking for in-house training and coaching for your team or an expert to provide consulting, you can learn more at www.BuildingGurus.com/Informa.   

About the Author(s)

Rikka Brandon

Founder & CEO, Building Gurus

Rikka Brandon is a nationally recognized building industry recruiting and hiring expert and best-selling author. She helps building industry business owners and leaders solve their recruiting and retention challenges with strategy, best practices and access to experts. Whether or not you're looking for in-house training and coaching for your team or an expert to provide consulting, you can learn more at www.BuildingGurus.com/Informa.  

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