Perspectives

Interviewing for a job in construction: Mace’s top tips

Looking for a new role in construction? Here are five tips from Mace’s talent and development expert Gill Jordison on perfecting your interview technique and getting the job you want. 

You have got as far as the interview room door, and believe us, in this competitive market, just doing that is challenge enough. You really want this job and getting it all rests on what you do in the next 30 to 60 minutes, so no pressure! What you need to ask yourself is just how much have you prepared and do you really know what to say to knock that interviewer’s proverbial socks off? 

We asked Head of Talent and Development at Mace, Gill Jordison, to walk us through her top five tips for a successful job interview in the construction sector.  

“Having worked in the area of talent and development for over a decade, I have lots of experience in interviewing, and being interviewed, for new roles or places on talent development programmes. 

"When the stakes are high and you really want a job or opportunity, it can feel like a nerve wracking experience. So, here’s my top five tips to help you show off the best version of you…”

Top Tip No. 1: Prepare 

Preparation is key. And the key to preparation is research. Try to be clear on exactly who the company is that you are wanting to work for, their strategy, what makes them tick, and how you think you could add value.

Read the company’s web site, know their values, look at their annual report and accounts – did they do well last year or have a hard time? Ask yourself if they feel like a good fit with what you are looking for in your next employer or role. 

Researching the company, the role and the interviewers actually shows that you are keen, both on the company and the job. Don’t let the fact the interviewers are strangers put you off, find out anything and everything you can about them, you never know when you may unearth some common ground!

The questions you will be asked in an interview will usually be around testing your competence to do the job. Look closely through the job specification which gives you all the clues you will need about what they want from the successful candidate. Prepare some examples of when you have done those things in the past, and what you have learned from that experience. 

Lastly prepare some questions in advance that link to your career aspirations or that may come up through your research. This can help you find out additional information that can help you work out what you can give, and indeed get, from the role and its future opportunities. It also makes you look engaged and interested, never a bad thing! 

Top Tip No. 2: First impressions do count 

From the moment you enter the room you will be on show and others will be forming opinions of you.  It’s second nature after all. It is a fact that your body language can influence your energy, tone and impact. You need to be aware of this and one of the best ways to do this is to practice. 

It may make you feel a little silly but take time to stand in front of a mirror and visualise yourself in the interview room. It’s never easy to talk about yourself, much less to blow your own trumpet, so practice articulating the skills, qualities and experience that you will bring to the role. 
  
Looking people in the eye, smiling and having a good firm handshake all denote confidence and create a great first impression. Smiling also tells your body that you are happy so your body language starts to look and feel more at ease, this is something that interviewers will first notice, and then appreciate. 

Top Tip No.3: Always try to be yourself  

Don’t forget, the interviewer wants to see the real you, to understand if you are a good fit for the company. Take time for a few pleasantries and a quick exchange before the interview starts, this helps you break the ice and make a connection. 

Above all, be yourself but be appropriate – you need to dress appropriately and use appropriate language, but in a way that is authentic to you. Trying to be something you’re not can make you appear untrustworthy and phoney – never characteristics looked for in a good hire! 

Top Tip No. 4: Answer the question

Pleasantries and first impressions aside, it’s time to get to the nitty gritty and that is the questions the interviewer is likely to pose. You’ve already done your prep on demonstrating your competence, so make sure you have also thought about your motivations for wanting this job and other likely questions we all know come up in these situations. 

Listen carefully to the question and make sure your answer is relevant – sounds simple but it is easy to forget the question once you start to talk. Try to weave in information about your previous experience and competence and don’t forget to mention your achievements. Above all don’t simply recap your CV; an interview is a chance for you to shine and demonstrate all the qualities your CV cannot. 

If a question isn’t clear, ask for clarification so that you can make sure you give the interviewers the information they need. If the worst happens and you simply don’t have an answer, admit it, as long as you regain your composure you will still come across as confident. 

Everything you say at an interview doesn’t necessarily have to be positive, think about your weaknesses or challenges with the role and be honest about them, but don’t forget to say how you plan to get over them. This will be probably come as a refreshing change to your interviewers and will show that you have really thought about how you will tackle this opportunity if you are chosen for the job! 

Top Tip No.5: Always follow up 

Whatever the outcome of the interview, at the very least it is a networking opportunity that will ensure that your time was not wasted, even if you don’t end up getting the job. 

Our tip here is to always follow up, whether that be an email thanking the interviewer for their time, or subtly putting your name on their radar following the interview by liking a post on their social media account. However you do it, keeping yourself in their mind can never be a bad thing. If you weren’t right for that particular job then who is to say a job you are perfect for won’t come up in a month’s time, and if it does you want them to think of you. 

This is also a good time to consider your own social media accounts, if you do put yourself on their radar and they look you up, are your most recent posts something positive and professional? 

Always remember that you are entitled to feedback on your interview so don’t shy away from contacting the interviewer afterwards to ask for it, and for any advice they may have so that you know where to improve. Who knows when you may see them across another interview desk in the future?