Previously Published in THE PROFESSIONAL CONTRACTOR
Employees are the most valuable asset to any construction company that wants to grow and prosper. Good ones can mean the difference between a successful job, and one that is mired in problems, damaging the company’s reputation. Finding the right people is so critically important that companies spend significant time and money on their screening and recruitment process. Still, however, owners often complain that they can’t find good talent – when in fact, good talent is in ample supply.
In our view, there are three reasons for trouble finding talent. One, firms haven’t clearly defined why a high-growth person would want to work for them, and they struggle with how to articulate this to candidates. Here are some questions you want to think about before the interview:
• What is your company known for? What are your core values?
• What do you look for in your employees?
• How do you contribute to your employees’ professional growth?
• What can an employee achieve by working for your company?
Successful construction companies are employee-centric and help their employees develop as professionals. Tell potential candidates what you will do for them, from their perspective, not yours – and stick to it.
Two, many construction organizations are using the resume as a selection tool, instead of a rejection tool. The resume should be used only to filter out the unqualified candidates (i.e., as a rejection tool), and identify who is qualified to be interviewed. Then, current employees should be selected to conduct the interviews, without seeing the candidate’s resume, or knowing their qualifications. Why? This eliminates the bias the interviewer may have towards the potential candidate, and encourages probing questions that can reveal who the person really is – which may differ from what the resume suggests.
Then, the interviewing process should replicate the actual work environment as much as possible. Potential candidates must be put under the same type of pressure they would experience in the position. The interviewers should not try to “sell” the job. They should simply
ask questions to gain insight on how the candidate might react in stressful situations, and
whether the person is a good fit for your company’s values and culture.
Three, the questions posed during the interviews do not get to the root of the candidate’s belief system and values, and how (s)he might respond in certain situations. All companies have problems – wouldn’t it be helpful to know if the person will take responsibility when things go wrong? It is critically important to get clarity on how trustworthy, honest and competent they are, and whether or not they will contribute to the success of your organization.
Some of the questions/statements that can help with the interview process are:
• What interests you about this position?
• What are the characteristics that you look for in an employer?
• How do you believe you could strengthen our organization?
• What are your expectations of us?
• When relationships with your colleagues aren’t working, what is usually the cause?
• What is a typical complaint that your colleagues had about you?
• What involved most of your time in your current position?
• What worked well in the position? What didn’t?
• If you aren’t offered this position, what is your next step?
• Describe a time when you took responsibility for something that didn’t go well. What was the outcome?
• How would you handle problems that typically come up in this position? (For instance, the project is behind schedule and the client is upset. What would you do?)
In summary, the best way to find top talent for your company doesn’t require a major overhaul of your recruiting process. By clearly defining the value your company brings to an employee, using the resume as a rejection tool, and slightly changing your interviewing process, your company can enjoy a low turnover rate, fewer problems on the job site and increased satisfaction with clients.