When it comes to filling an open position, it’s important to ask around. Put out feelers in your professional network and take note of any leads. It’s also a good idea to ask the individuals on your team that have the same qualities or skills that you are looking for.

But regardless of whether or not you get any recommendations, much will come down to the interview. This is the time where you are able to really get a good read of a person—of who they truly are, versus what it says on a piece of paper or what you have heard from others. 

Take the time to ask thoughtful questions that can shed light on key qualities like skill, communication, flexibility and attention to detail. These questions should be tailored to the particular job that you have open, for example, if you are looking for a foreman or project coordinator, versus a general laborer or contract worker. 

Ask About Personal Experience

  • Tell me about the last project you were working on. What was your specific role?
  • Have you ever sustained an injury at work? What were the actions/circumstances that led to this injury? How did you handle it? 
  • What are the first things you do when you arrive at a job? What are the last things that you do before leaving? 

Ask About Interpersonal Skills 

  • What qualities do you think are most important to a successful team? 
  • How would you handle a conflict with another employee at work? What about if it were with a manager? 
  • Have you ever had a recommendation for doing something better? What would you suggest to ensure a project runs smoothly? 

Try a Role-Playing Exercise

The goal of these types of exercises is to put someone on the spot and get their immediate answer versus something that they have had a lot of time to think about. Describe a subjective situation that someone is likely to experience on the job, and ask them to respond as they would in real life. For example, you might ask someone applying for a foreman position what they would do if they witnessed a contractor being dishonest. 

Do Your Research, But Trust Your Instinct 

Someone may look great on paper and sound even better in person, but it’s always good to do your due diligence and conduct a background check before bringing them on. These can be done fairly quickly and inexpensively by a number of online parties. 

It’s also a good idea to take a look at someone’s social media accounts. How someone conducts themselves in their personal lives will tell you a lot about how they would conduct themselves in a professional situation. 

But at the end of the day it really comes down to how you feel about the candidate. Do you get the sense that they are reliable, honest and trustworthy? It’s important to keep in mind that personality can sometimes be more important than experience—the right employee might not have the exact set of professional skills you are looking for, but could be more than capable of learning on the job.


Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash