Want to know more about what it takes to become a construction manager? Secured an interview for the role but didn’t know what to expect once you walk in? Looking for some way to prepare well for the upcoming interview? We’ve got it all covered. Here in this article, we check out some common and some not-so-common questions that are asked during an interview for the position of a construction manager and discuss ideal ways to answer them so that you have all the preparation you want for that interview. We hope this shall provide you with all the help you need.
A Construction Manager is basically a civil engineer or an architect, so a technical degree in that field is necessary to become one. Most construction managers have a Bachelor’s degree in engineering or architecture, but a Master’s degree doesn’t hurt either, and in some cases, will be seen as a bonus too. Profound knowledge of the construction industry and wide functional experience related to different projects, from the phase of their conception to the finish, is valued highly in a construction manager. In addition, a competent construction manager is expected to be familiar with the primary components and the people who are to be hired in key positions, along with the materials needed.
Construction Manager Interview Questions
Apart from these main duties, a construction manager also has to fulfill certain other responsibilities such as overseeing some interdependent or interrelated tasks, which would require additional skills such as time management, budgeting, planning, communication skills, leadership skills, and people skills. In addition, a decent construction manager should negotiate well and lead and guide a team towards solving problems daily. So, an interview for this role will be made up of questions designed to assess whether the candidate possesses these skills. Let’s take a look at some of these questions now:
- Tell us about your views on leadership.
Since the job of a construction manager involves being a leader before anything else, the interviewer needs to understand how the candidate would approach the job and their team as a leader to understand whether their approach would be in line with the needs of the company and if they would be productive with regards to the project as well. A good answer to this question should include all the important points about being a leader. The candidate should talk about how they like to sit down with the team before every move to ensure that everyone has a clear understanding of their job and that they prefer giving their subordinates sufficient creative freedom to come up with their own ideas and contribute to the job. A leader who can win the confidence of their team and guide them into making the right decisions without too much micromanagement is good.
- How do you handle conflict within your team?
An important part of being a leader in any scenario is to handle internal team conflict. Unnecessary friction between team members, often resulting from miscommunication or a lack of proper understanding of each other’s positions, can adversely affect productivity and lead to undesirable outcomes. It is the leader’s job to ensure that such situations are avoided to save precious time and energy. A good leader must detect interpersonal conflict between their team members and resolve it before it gets too big. The candidate should say that they like to conduct one-on-one sessions regularly with their team members to ensure that everyone is on the same page. If there is a cause for discontent, sitting down all the concerned parties to arrive at a compromise is the way to go.
- Why do you want to work for our company?
This is quite a common interview question and is asked to judge how much a candidate already knows about the company and the position they have applied to. The interviewer would like to see if the candidate is motivated enough to have the job and if their reasons for their wanting to work for the company show that they are enthusiastic about the job. Simply saying that the pay is good or the office looks comfortable is a bad idea. The candidate would do well to look up the company’s mission and vision statement to understand their broad goals and methods and then construct an answer that highlights how their personal values fit in with the company’s values. This will show the interviewer that the candidate will fit right in with the company and will dedicate themselves to the projects entrusted to them.
- Tell us about a time when you encountered a significant obstacle while working on a project.
A good manager is a good problem solver, and someone who is already experienced in dealing with obstacles will know this better than anyone else and shall be able to come up with their own solutions. The interviewer is essentially testing the candidate’s experience. Now would be a good time to talk about any past instances at work where the candidate encountered a major problem and the solution they devised to pull themselves and their project out of trouble. A candidate who displays the ability to think out of the box will definitely impress the interviewer. Even if the candidate does not have any such spectacular stories about their problem-solving abilities, it is fine to mention a few instances where they steered a project through a hard road. This will tell the interviewer that the candidate in front of them knows how to manage the generic problems that people in their industry usually face.
- What project management tools do you prefer and why?
Almost all major construction companies have some software tools in place which they use for managing their projects. The interviewer would like to see if the candidate is already familiar with the programs they use, and if that is the case, then this candidate becomes an easy hire. A candidate who has wide experience using different project management tools and is willing to learn how to operate newer tools to oversee the planning, designing, and construction of a project can be a potential asset to the company. The candidate should ideally do some research before coming for the interview to know what tools the company already uses. If the candidate finds that they are comfortable with these tools, then they should answer while referring to them. If not, they should make it a point to indicate that they are willing to learn how to operate new software.
- How would you go about negotiating a project contract?
A good construction manager should be able to negotiate with clients. The interviewer would like to see what factors the candidate considers as most important during the course of contract negotiation. Things like worker rates, safety measures, time period, etc., are essential, and the candidate should answer the question while referring to these points. The interviewer might even give the candidate a hypothetical contract and ask them to negotiate it to understand their style and priorities. A candidate who displays shrewd negotiating skills coupled with concern for the company’s interests will be looked upon favorably. We recommend going through the company website to understand their perspective to better answer this question.
- How would you go about hiring your construction team?
This is a test for the candidate’s knowledge and experience. A good candidate should know all the different important positions in a decent construction team and the qualifications needed to fulfill a particular position. The interviewer would also like to see the different criteria that the candidate considers before hiring someone for a particular position and whether those criteria are in line with the general hiring standards of the company. The interviewer would also check the salary that the candidate would offer each candidate based on their qualifications and experience and the duties they would assign to each one of them. Finally, the candidate would need adequate knowledge about managing a construction team and its various components and responsibilities to properly answer this question, which is crucial for a good construction manager.
- How would you deal with a difficult member of your team?
Managing people and their demands is a daily part of the job of a construction manager or any manager for that matter. A good leader should be able to calmly handle difficult employees without compromising on the company’s interests. An employee may create problems on various fronts, from disregarding the opinions and instructions of the manager to demanding a sudden renegotiation of their employment contract for a pay increase. A good manager should be able to deal with them so that it doesn’t lead to further escalation of an unpleasant situation. A candidate should say that they would generally take time out of their schedule to sit down with the employee in question and understand their problems and offer possible solutions. While a reasonable employee would usually accept a compromise and agree to work under the renegotiated terms, an obstinate employee may refuse to budge from an unreasonable position and threaten to create further problems. In that case, the only option would be to let them go, and in a way that does not make things uncomfortable for other employees.
- What would you like to change about our company?
A candidate with good knowledge and experience will also have ideas about their profession. This is a chance for the candidate to demonstrate what makes them unique and different from other candidates and show what they can bring to the table. To know what they would like to change about the company, a candidate needs first to know some basic things about the company, such as the management tools they use, the safety standards they adhere to, the way they negotiate contracts, etc. a candidate who can show that they have done their homework about the company they have applied to will give the impression of being diligent and willing to go that extra mile for their job. After that, the candidate should mention a few areas where they would like to see things done differently. It doesn’t matter if the interviewer likes these suggestions or not. They just want to see if the candidate can think creatively.
- Where do you see yourself in five years?
This is a common question in interviews and is asked to judge a candidate’s sense of motivation and intentions on the job. Companies like to hear that a candidate plans to stay with them for a long time. However, simply saying that the candidate has no plans other than working in the company for the future might lead the interviewer into thinking that the candidate lacks the ambition needed in a successful manager. The ideal way to take this question is to say that the candidate plans to stay in the company shortly and work their way up the corporate ladder while taking additional responsibilities. This will tell the interviewer that the candidate will be a good hire and human investment company.
Being a construction manager means wearing many hats simultaneously, which is why the job can be quite tiring. Also, construction managers are often required to visit construction sites and supervise projects on the ground, so this job requires a lot of energy and grit. However, anyone who enjoys designing, developing, and implementing their ideas to take shape and transform into real projects in the form of physical infrastructure would be a perfect fit for this role. We believe this article shall help you ace that interview and bag that dream job. Best of luck!
Frequently Asked Questions
- Do I have to dress professionally for the interview? Absolutely. Professional dressing shows that you take the job seriously, something the interviewer would want to see.
- Will have a Master’s degree in Business Administration helps in becoming a construction manager? Usually, people with a background in civil engineering or architecture are preferred for the job. But since this job does involve a lot of management responsibilities, and additional MBA degree will definitely be a plus.