Working on a construction site is no easy job. You may spend most of your time working outside, regardless of weather conditions. You will carry heavy loads, have to bear with your colleagues (some of them strange characters), and may even work in the heights.
Interviewers want to understand whether you are ready to deal with such conditions, and won’t quit in a day, or in a week. Because the last thing construction site managers want to deal with is looking for new laborers regularly. They have more important issues to address.
The good news is that they do not expect any qualification or experience from you. Certainly it helps if you worked with some tools and machinery, and have some experience from the construction site (not necessarily a professional one, building your own house is fine). But even if you do not have any experience, you can get the job, as long as you say the right things in the interview. Let’s have a look at the questions you may face.
Why did you decide to apply for a job of a construction laborer?
Let’s be honest. You didn’t dream of working on a construction site as a kid. And it makes no sense to try to convince the hiring manager of the opposite, to tell them some fables. They are looking for honest guys, and you should be genuine with your answers right from the start of the meeting.
Perhaps you are still young, and have no previous experience. You need a job though–to save money for college, or to basically earn a living. And since you are physically strong and generally in a good shape, and enjoy working outside, you decided to apply.
Or you’ve worked with your uncle on a construction site before, helping to build a house, a fence, or whatever. You’ve gained some experience in the field, so why would you not continue working in the same field, but this time, getting paid for doing the hard labor?
The key is to find at least something positive about the job, to give them some reason why you apply. They should not get an impression that you are simply desperate for money, and would not apply if you had a realistic chance of getting a better job.
Can you tell us more about your experience with construction work?
Try to talk in-detail about the work you did. That means mentioning tasks you responded for (either in a real job, or while helping your father, or uncle, with some construction), and tools you used before. Maybe you helped with putting on a roof, or did some carpentry work, or you laid bricks. Or you were simply helping with anything that was necessary on the building ground, carrying stuff, holding stuff, bringing beers.
You should also mention some tools you worked with, such as drillers, pneumatic drills, grinders, etc. Anything is better than nothing.
If this is your first-ever application for any sort of construction work, you should simply say that you are a quick learner and a hard worker. You do not have experience, but you will certainly get into the groove quickly and learn how to handle the tasks they entrust you with. Show confidence in your abilities, and they will also trust in them.
How long do you want this job? Are you in only for the summer? And what’s your availability?
When you are young and looking as if you have some other plans for the future (and you certainly have), you will certainly get this question. Again, it’s important to be honest, but you should never say that you want the job for less than six weeks. They won’t bother with providing you any training and giving you any responsibility for such a short period of time.
You can also say that you aren’t sure now. Having no other plans, you may stick with them for a long time, as long as they are happy with your work and you find the workload adequate for the wages. That’s fair enough for the construction manager.
We have deadlines here and work in any weather. How do you feel about the proposition of working when it rains all day, or in a scorching afternoon sun?
Ensure them that you’re no pansy. Sure, it’s easier working in favorable weather conditions. But as long as you protect yourself with the right clothes (waterproof jacket and good boots when it rains, hat when the sun is scorching), you don’t see a reason why you’d not handle the tricky weather conditions.
You can also add an experience from the past. Maybe you worked on a farm before or on some other project that took place outside and had a deadline. And since you could not afford losing time, you simply worked–rain, sun, snow, nothing bothered you much. You see no reason why it should be different in your new job on a construction site.
This is hard labor. You may carry materials up to one hundred pounds. How do you feel about the proposition?
Again, it’s about showing confidence in your abilities. Ensure them that you are in a great shape and exercise regularly. You carried heavy load before, and see no reason why you’d struggle with heavy stuff. Maybe you will find it difficult at the start, just because your body isn’t used to it. But you certainly won’t fade out or give up. After a few days of aching muscles and feeling of tiredness you will get used to the new routine, and you won’t find it hard anymore.
Imagine that your superior or supervisor tells you to do something, but you know they are wrong, that they do not suggest an effective way of handling the work. How will you react?
This one is a bit tricky. Before anything else, you should respect the line of hierarchy on the construction site. If they are responsible for making decisions, you should leave the decision making to them. On the other hand, keeping a higher goal on your mind, you should try to save money for your employer. And doing things ineffectively means losing money.
I suggest you to do the following. Say that you will stop the superior and quickly explain them why you consider their decision wrong–without emotions or conflicts. You will rely on facts, and perhaps on your experience. You will suggest an alternative way of completing the work, a more efficient one.
If they do not agree with you, however, and insist on the procedure they originally suggested, you will simply obey and do the job. That’s the attitude they seek in an excellent job candidate.
Imagine that people are working hard but you notice one of your colleagues just hanging around and smoking cigarettes. How will you react?
In reality you mat drop your tools and join them for the cigarette. And other colleagues may follow, especially if the supervisor isn’t around. As you can imagine though, this isn’t something you should say in an interview…Now it doesn’t mean that you should be a snitch, and report on their behavior immediately.
I suggest you to say the following: You will go and talk to the colleague. Explaining them that there’s time for work and time for breaks, and that it’s not good if others work and they just smoke cigarettes, you will ask them to return to work.
When they obey, and do not hang around anymore, it’s the end of the story. But if they continue wasting time while others work hard, you will report them to the supervisor or manager. That’s the attitude they seek in a good job candidate.
What are your salary expectations?
As you can surely imagine, you won’t earn a fortune as a construction laborer. In many places they will pay you a minimal wage, or slightly better, and that’s what you should expect when talking about money in the interviews. If you get a chance to talk to some of the laborers before the start of you interview, ask them how much they get for each hour, or each day at work. That can be a benchmark for your answer.
And if you aren’t sure, or hope for something better, simply say that you will accept the same salary they pay to other construction laborers. They would not pay you more anyway, but saying this you ensure you won’t end up underpaid either…
Ready to ace your interview? Not yet? Check the following articles to continue your preparation:
- What are your weaknesses? – Learn how to deal with the dreaded interview question.
- Salary negotiation tips – You may not get a chance to negotiate a better salary in your construction laborer interview. If you get that chance, however, you should try to make then most of it.
- How to deal with negative people at work – Do some of your colleagues bother you? Learn how you can deal with them, without getting involved in a fist fight.