To get started in any career, you will need to have a job interview. Candidates may find them nerve-wracking, but they are an essential part of the recruitment process for any employer. To be successful at an interview you should prepare well and know what kinds of questions you might be asked.  

Here are some job interview tips that are relevant to any industry, but certainly to construction.

Why job interviews are important

Job interviews are important because they are your best chance to impress an employer with your suitability for the position you have applied for. When you apply for a job, your first objective is to get an interview. 

An employer will usually base their decision on whether to employ a candidate on the strength of their interview. They will look at whether your skills, experience and personality meet the job requirements.  

Different types of interviews

There are several different types of interviews you may experience. Some positions may involve one or more interviews. 

One-to-one interview 

Face to face interviews can take a variety of forms. In a one-to-one interview, you are interviewed by one person from the company. You may be introduced to more people but the interview itself will only consist of one other person.     

Panel interview 

It is common these days to be interviewed by more than one person. This is called a panel interview. Often the employer will be represented by someone who you will be directly working for, usually your prospective line manager, a member of the company’s human resources department, and perhaps another person who you will be working with if your interview is successful.  

Phone & virtual interviews 

Increasingly employers are using phone and virtual means to conduct interviews. These may be used at an early stage of the recruitment process and may not last as long as a normal face-to-face interview. Video interviews are now quite common, using Zoom or Teams applications.  

You will need an internet connection and a suitable device to conduct an interview like this, so it is important to let the recruiter or employer know if this might be difficult for you. They should be flexible in these circumstances and offer a different way to do the interview.

Types of interview questions

It is a good idea to do some interview preparation beforehand. There are some common interview questions that are often asked, so if you have prepared some answers it will give you more confidence.  

Strengths and weaknesses questions 

An employer will probably ask you to talk about your strengths and weaknesses. This can be awkward for some people because they find it difficult to talk about themselves like this, but interviews are about selling your skills, attributes and personality.  

When thinking about your strengths, try to relate them to the job description, and give examples of how those strengths were demonstrated. Identifying your weaknesses can seem much harder to do, but employers ask this question because they want to know about your level of self-awareness, and the potential you have for personal growth in a job role. Try to focus on those areas of your personality that do not reflect badly on yourself and would put someone off employing you. It is better to say, for example, ‘I am too much of a perfectionist’, than ‘I lose concentration easily’.  

Personality questions 

Skills and experience are important factors in your suitability for a job, but an employer will also want to know about your personality. This is not something that you can list on a CV but will determine how well you might be able to work with other people or how you could deal with workplace situations.  

You might be asked things like:  

  • What makes you a unique candidate? 
  • How do you manage anger or stress? 
  • What are you passionate about? 
  • How would your friends describe you?  
  • How do you deal with criticism? 

Competency-based questions 

An employer may also ask a series of competency-based questions, which are designed to see what skills you have and how you have demonstrated them, either at work, in education or in other areas of your life.  

Competency-based interview questions could be: 

  • Tell me about a situation when you handled conflict at work  
  • Describe a time when you showed leadership 
  • How well do you cope in adversity?  
  • What has been your biggest achievement to date?  
  • When did you show good decision making?  

Motivational interview questions 

Towards the end of an interview, you may be asked questions like: ‘what is your greatest ambition?’, ‘what do you dream of doing?’ or ‘where do you see yourself in five years' time?’  

These are called motivational questions and give employers an idea of what drives or motivates a candidate. If someone sounds ambitious or has clearly defined goals, this will help an employer to make a judgement about the development potential of a candidate. Are they willing to develop their skills beyond their current job role, motivate their co-workers or show leadership capacity?

Preparing for your interview

When the interview is confirmed 

Once you know the date of the interview, start to do some initial planning. Researching the company is always a good idea. You can do this by looking at their website and noting down some facts to use during the interview. 

Make sure you know how to get to the place where the interview is taking place, and how long the journey will take. Get permission to attend if you need to from your school, college or current employer. 

A few days beforehand 

Plan some answers to the common interview questions you’ve read about above. Think about questions to ask the employer – two or three will be enough. This shows that you have researched the company and have an interest in the job.  

The day before 

The day before the interview, finish your planning. There will always be questions that you have not been able to anticipate, but you don’t want to sound too automatic in your answers. Speaking naturally and ‘off-the-cuff’ will reveal more of your personality to the interviewer.  

Try to reduce your research and planning to a series of bullet points that you can carry with you on small pieces of paper or cards, or even on your mobile phone. Like before an exam, if you have done enough revision these bullet points should be enough for you to remember what you have researched and prepared for the interview.  

Don’t go to bed late the night before the interview. You want to get a good night’s sleep and feel fresh and mentally alert in the morning.  

The day of the interview 

On the day of the interview itself, give yourself plenty of time to get ready and to travel to the interview. You will probably feel nervous, but that is natural. Dress smartly and appropriately – first impressions count.  

What’s it like to work in construction?

Job interviews in construction are the same as most other industries. It is important to prepare well, have confident body language and answer the question you are asked by the interviewer. Every interview is good experience. If you don’t get the job, it’s not the end of the world. You can ask for feedback from the interviewer – learn what you did well and what you can improve on for your next interview.  

If construction is an industry you think may suit your skills and interests, Go Construct can provide all the information and advice about a career in construction