Applicants for construction project manager positions often have a university or college degree in a relevant field, significant experience in the industry, and references who can vouch for the skills and capabilities demonstrated on past projects. As many of the applicants will possess each of these attributes, being prepared for the interview can be a way to differentiate yourself and ensure you get the job.
After much research and discussion around key interview questions, we’ve narrowed it down to the 10 most important questions to prepare for your construction project management interview. These questions will push you to really understand your skills, the contribution you can make on the team, and help you showcase what makes you an excellent candidate for a project manager role.
Best questions to prepare for a construction management interview
1. What are the first steps you would take in planning a construction project?
It will be important for you to approach this question in a methodical and comprehensive manner. Use this question as an opportunity to show the interviewer(s) that you have a strong understanding of the planning process for a project, you are structured in your thinking, and you’re detail-oriented. Be mindful that not all companies are the same, and the planning process you used on past projects may not be directly applicable to the company you are interviewing for, but you can still get the point across that you would be a good project manager due to your understanding of the role.
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2. How would you keep staff motivated on a job-site with constantly changing schedules, budgets, and requests?
When interviewers ask this question, they are trying to find out about your people skills. As a construction project manager, being an effective communicator and having strong people skills will be two of the most important attributes you can possess, as, afterall, the job does largely revolve around managing project team members.
A strong answer will demonstrate an understanding and appreciation for the importance of keeping team members motivated. You should spend time thinking about different ideas you have to keep people motivated, but some popular and useful ones include goal-setting as a team, keeping team members engaged on different aspects of the job, providing recognition or incentives for success. Incorporating these examples in your response will show that you have put thought towards this important issue, and add depth to your answer.
3. What would you do during heavy rainfall or extreme weather conditions?
This question could be framed in a variety of ways, but what interviewers are trying to discover is how well you’ll respond when faced with adversity. You should have some idea of the logistical necessities during a time like this, such as making sure wood and equipment are covered or stored properly. However, most important is that you show them that you would remain calm, collected, and be able to manage the situation largely independently. You should make clear that you would also respond immediately to address the obstacles in your way, and that you’d emphasize maintaining a safe construction site.
4. How would you ensure a project is moving forward according to schedule and on budget? What would you do if they were not?
This question will again serve as a judgement of your people skills. Ensuring a project is moving forward according to schedule and the budget will depend on your effective communication with members of your team. Through debriefs with your team, you can uncover challenges that may be impeding the project’s progression, and this allows you to work on addressing the specific issues. Make sure to stress the importance of communication during this process, as that is a fundamental aspect of the job description, but feel free to add additional measures you would take in the moment.
5. What factors would you consider when hiring members of a project team?
Here, the interviewer is trying to gain insight into what you value in a team. You want to demonstrate that you value more than just the team’s past experience, but also the aspects which influence how they fit as a team. Some factors you could name that would show a deeper understanding of teams would include communication skills, team diversity, relationships between team members/team climate, and anything else you think may be important or specific to the company you are interviewing for.
6. How would you handle an employee disregarding your instructions or refusing to follow safety regulations?
This answer will depend on your leadership style, but it is crucial you spend some time preparing for this question, as it can truly make or break your interview. Seeing how you would deal with subordinates on your team is important for your potential employer, as managing the team is one of the most fundamental responsibilities of a construction project manager.
Your answer needs to show them that you are an effective leader who is confident enough to deal with issues on your team without disrupting the entire job-site. This is a serious issue for construction project managers, so putting some thought towards how you would handle this situation will also help prepare you for the role itself.
7. What are the biggest obstacles you have faced on past projects and how did you handle them?
This will be an opportunity for you to discuss some of your past experiences in the construction industry, demonstrating you have relevant experience that will apply to this job. More importantly though, this answer should illustrate how you were able to remain calm, logical, and communicative when presented with obstacles. You want to show the interviewer(s) that you can handle issues when confronted with them without being overwhelmed, and that you have successfully done this in the past.
8. What licenses are needed to begin a construction project and how would you obtain them?
Depending on your location and the specifics of any given project, there will be necessary documents and licenses you will always need to acquire before beginning a project. Being aware of the different licenses required and the regulatory requirements will demonstrate to your potential employer that you have in-depth knowledge of the industry and are a well-rounded manager, as you consider all aspects of the job and industry, including regulations.
9. What would you do if a subcontractor tries to alter or renegotiate the terms of their contract?
Interviewers will want to see how you handle conflict in important relationships. Make sure you emphasize the importance of communication throughout your answer, as maintaining communication during this process will strengthen the relationship and hopefully lead to the issue being solved. You also want to present yourself as reasonable, and able to work in shifting environments.
This answer may depend on the company you are interviewing for, so try and find out how these situations have been handled in the past. Remember to demonstrate you’d be able to remain calm and focused on your work regardless of the distractions, and that you’d work diligently to find a solution acceptable to both sides.
10. What would you do if a client refuses to accept a completed project and argues it is not the quality expected?
While this scenario is rare, interviewers want to see if you would be able to manage the situation in an effective and respectful manner. It is important to remember you are not the most senior representative of your company, so if a customer is persistent in refusing to accept the project, know that you should then escalate the issue to your superiors.
However, you still want to portray yourself as independent and a leader, so explain how you would work with the client to try and get them to understand how the project is completed to the agreed upon quality. Having an understanding of the entire construction project management process includes the post-completion phase, so be prepared for a question that touches on dealing with clients while prepping for upcoming interviews.