Here’s How to Ace that Next Job Interview


When seeking a new job, you want to streamline your strategy to be more efficient. 


Over the years, you’ve probably heard a good deal about how much employers value candidates that possess a way about them. While uniqueness is a great attribute, interviewing candidates often tend to get themselves in a bind trying to stand out. 


Since hiring managers usually have busy schedules, put more emphasis on the simple things – your education, background, and accomplishments.


The top of this list is nailing down basic interview etiquette. Ideally, you want to handle yourself like you’re having a conversation with your future employer, not an interrogation.


For this to happen, you need to develop a connection and lay the groundwork for a back-and-forth dialogue. 


Of course, this is easier said than done. Luckily, we’ve compiled a sort of comprehensive cheat sheet to help you create a favorable impression when your dream job comes knocking at the door. Read on!


General Heavy Civil and Commercial Construction Interview Guidelines


Practice Makes Perfect


With practice, you can rehearse responses to some of the common interview questions. 


This process is highly recommended since it helps enhance your confidence. It can help you check for any existing verbal tics, any enunciation problem, and your speech rate. 


For practice, you can call over a close associate or friend and record it so you can play it back to spot the things you want to improve on—work on your delivery, and keep answers short and fact-filled with examples of your past accomplishments.


Develop a checklist


Have a look at the job posting. Using it as a guide, formulate a list that details how your qualifications match the hiring criteria. Having this list for glancing purposes can help you frame your responses during the heavy civil or commercial construction interview.


Jot down your past experiences and accomplishments


Specificity is key here. You want your achievements to speak for themselves. This way, you can tightly tie together how past experiences have shaped you to fit like a glove in this potential new role. 


Companies care about leadership mentoring experience. If you worked in a leadership role as the project manager or estimator, sorted out scheduling conflicts, reported to specific C-Level officers, had a team dependent on you for direction, let this be clear in your conversation. They also want to hear about accomplishments that improved the bottom line on a project or won an estimate. We have included a Preparation Worksheet at the end of this post for you to follow while itemizing these accomplishments.


Have your resume at hand


You want to have your resume nearby during the interview. This way, you can swiftly respond to questions that arise about the responsibilities you have on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. We recommend that you also write down a list of questions for the prospective employer. Have these with you in a portfolio along with 4-5 copies of your resume.


Lead the conversation


You don’t have to let the employer initiate every conversation. You can take it upon yourself to ask questions you may have about their operations. You can make inquiries into:

  • Their volume of operations and company direction and vision.
  • The work backlog.
  • Their safety program.
  • The type of work they self-perform.
  • The mix of public vs. private work they build.
  • Their company culture.
  • Future growth.
  • Compensation package


When it comes to compensation, you shouldn’t rush to provide a figure. A better approach would be to indicate that it’s about chemistry, the opportunity for professional and personal growth, and readiness to engage within their organizational culture.


Honesty and Feedback


In some situations, you may find yourself giving responses to questions you’re not familiar with. This may not work in your favor if you’re looking to give the impression of an authority figure in your field. 


When asked questions during heavy civil or commercial construction interviews, the best approach is to time your responses. If you find yourself talking for more than a minute, withdraw and get back to the question at hand.


Don’t be in a rush to answer questions just for the sake of it. If it’s something you cannot give insights to after probing, or just don’t know, be sure to communicate that you’ll get back to them if they so wish. 


Telephone Interviews


Today, it takes more than a decent resume to get you in the door. More than ever, employers want to screen candidates by having them go through a telephone interview first. 


With the screening done, the pool of applicants gets narrowed down, and only a select few make it to the final in-person interview. 


As recruiters in the heavy civil and commercial construction industry, we know a great deal about these kinds of strategies. Most organizations prefer to kick things off to ensure that the interviewing expenditure is minimized, especially if some of the candidates come from out-of-town. 


To ace telephone interviews, preparation is critical. This way, you can keep your answers concise while ensuring that you reveal loads of relevant information about yourself. 


Without preparation, you may find yourself entangled in a confusing back and forth that may disqualify you from open positions.


Here’s how to get your mind in the right space:


Call Preparation


Phone interviews can be grouped into scheduled and unscheduled. 


For scheduled interviews, the first contact is typically established on platforms like LinkedIn or via email. You want to ensure that you’re able to answer the call yourself and have a professional-sounding voice. 


When anticipating phone calls, you want to be in a quiet, comfortable, and private space with minimal distractions so you can commit your energies to the interview.


For unscheduled interviews, preparation can be quite tricky. If you’re surprised by one, you should not shy away from rescheduling to a better time. 


Something along the lines of “glad to hear from you, I am not currently in office and am not in the best place to give this call the attention it deserves. Do you mind if I call you back? What time works for you?”


Telephone Interview Tips


  • Minimize disruptions – You want the interview to flow from one topic to the next without any interruptions. We advise that you turn off call-waiting so that you only have to focus on one thing at a go.
  • Create a safe space – Just like actors get immersed in their roles, you want to get your whole being in sync with the interview. This may mean clearing the room by switching off all other electronic devices, make sure your kids and pets aren’t around, and closing the door. Where possible, try to use a landline since you stand better odds of getting better reception this way and less chance of dropping calls midway.
  • Be honest – A straightforward and can-do attitude can help you develop a relationship with the hiring authority. Using honesty, you can give you enough wiggle room to don your sales hat and promote your accomplishments.
  • Sound off – If you like what you hear during the interview, be sure to let the potential employer know that you can do the job and lead the conversation by asking what the next step is. 


Online Interviews


During times of social distancing, online video interviews have been embraced as a means for companies to conduct preliminary interviews. 


While your resume may interest the hiring authority, there’s still a catch since you’re not going to be invited directly to the office. You may first have to attend it through a video conferencing platform. 

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To ensure that the heavy civil or commercial construction interview seamlessly flows, here are some quick pointers to guide you along:


General Rules are Still in Effect


There’s no room to slack off, especially appearance-wise. We recommend donning a button-down styled collared shirt or a fashionable blouse. Sold colors can work great for video aesthetics as compared to stripes and other intricate patterns. 


Minimize Disruptions


Your home electronics need to be off, windows shut, and doors closed. You can go ahead and banish pets and kids away from your work area since there’s a good chance they’ll make you lose your train of thought during the interview.


Find a Good Setting


You want to operate in a neutral background that doesn’t connote negative information to the interviewer. For a professional approach, look for a blank background that doesn’t clash with your shirt. 


For a polished look, find a quiet chair that enables you to sit up without a slouching back and doesn’t creak as you move about in your seat.


Lighting is another area you want to get right. Ideally, you want to have sufficient light to prevent cowering in the dark. At the same time, you don’t want an excess amount that causes screen glare. Where possible, seek natural lighting and do away with any direct backlighting. 


Maximize Space to your Advantage


Online interviews can work great in your favor since the interviewer isn’t able to see what’s not on camera. They can only see what your camera adjustment enables them to see. 


To make better use of your interview space, develop some notes detailing responses to probable questions. Occasionally, you can glance at them without the interviewer ever finding out what’s going on. 


Get in the Mood


While online interviews are flexible, they can also be a deterrent to your success. 


If you’ve been cooped up indoors for a while, your face is likely going to show the signs visibly. Since your face is going to be visible during the interview, this can create a negative perception of your persona. 


Before the interview, you can inject some fresh enthusiasm and energy into the process by taking a jog around the block or doing some jumping jacks. Not only will this give you more vim, but it will also help calm your nerves. 


In-person Interviews


Get rested


Nerves can get to you as you prepare for the interview. Since you want to be confident, it’s recommended that you get plenty of sleep the night before. 


When you’re well-rested, you’ll find it easy to gather your thoughts and respond to the questions asked. To minimize nervous habits, we recommend grounding yourself by firmly planting your feet to the floor. It’s also great to have your hands on your lap or the desk. 


If restlessness makes your legs shake up and down, we recommend crossing your legs. If you tend to fidget when under pressure, try to avoid twirling about and playing with pens. 


Importantly, identify your nervous habits and position yourself to reduce the occurrence of these behaviors.


The dress code


Typically, you don’t have to wear a suit and tie or a dress for heavy civil or commercial construction interviews. Unless you’re planning to meet with the board of directors, it’s wise to refrain from being too formal. 


That said, you should not be a slob. Strive to maintain personal hygiene, have your nails trimmed, press your clothes, comb your hair, and shower. 


Not sure what to wear? We recommend some slacks, a button-down shirt, great shoes, a matching belt, clean socks. Women should go business casual or the next step up—no plunging shirts or dresses. Keep jewelry to a minimum.


Wearing the right attire communicates how much you respect the interviewer, the company, and the position they’re looking to fill. 


Go with a Strong Can-do Attitude


Smile. Not only does this relax you and the interviewer, but it also helps you connect with them better. 


If you’re not always cheery, you can set a mental reminder to smile during the opening handshake, smile at the first question, and right at the very end. This way, you’ll have incorporated at least three smiles during the interview. 


While at it, ensure that you establish eye contact with your employer, whether you’re dealing with one person or facing a panel. Maintain good posture and always have a firm handshake. First impressions are vital to a good interview.


It also pays to have about four or five extra copies of your resume with you. This way, the interviewer(s) can familiarize themselves with your resume as the interview proceeds.


Importantly, try to avoid bringing up talk about your previous employer. If they do come up or are asked why you left certain positions, be respectful of the past firms and leadership you have worked for. 


Many firms require you to fill out an application, even for upper-level positions. Be honest here as you will be signing that application and attesting that the information you have provided is true and honest.


Cost of Living Differential


Do your homework on the cost of living differential between where you currently reside and where the new opportunity will be located. There are many websites devoted to the cost of living and comparisons. 


One, in particular, is Best Places. Metropolitan areas can be misleading.


For example, Denver’s cost of living is typically higher than their respective suburbs due to the higher cost of living within Denver’s downtown area, which is a desirable area to live in. Phoenix is the exact opposite as the downtown residential market is virtually non-existent, and there are many low-income neighborhoods within Phoenix’s city limits, thus lowering the cost of living index accordingly.


If you are moving into a higher cost of living area, be ready for the reality that you probably will not receive a starting offer that accommodates the full amount of the increase.




If you will need to relocate, make sure you bring this up in the interview. Firms, for the most part, are not reimbursing for buying or selling property. When discussing relocation costs, you need to be transparent about your thoughts and what you are looking for the new firm to cover.


Items to discuss are:

  • The actual moving of personal effects and furniture.
  • Additional items needing shipping such as pianos, gun safes, wood or metal shop equipment, RV’s, recreational “toys,” additional cars or motorcycles, china, expensive artwork requiring special crating.
  • A house-hunting trip with your spouse.
  • Temporary housing until you sell your current home and move your family.
  • The costs of breaking a lease.
  • The costs of the actual move, i.e., driving your family, or flying your family and shipping your car.
  • Hotels and meals while on the road.


Be prepared to sign an offer with a statement that if you leave your position or are let go for cause within the first year or two, you will owe these reimbursed relocation costs back to the employer.


The Compensation Package


Most firms will not be offering you a position in an interview. They will get together with the people involved and work through the recruiter, in-house, or 3rd party and offer you the position at a later date.


Should they do offer you a job, write down all of the details and do not try to negotiate anything at this time.


Thank them for the offer and tell them you will evaluate the terms and get back to them. You must receive a summary of their medical, dental, and vision benefits plan offered complete with the date of eligibility, plan details, and the costs per pay period for these benefits. The same goes with their 401k plan, PTO, or paid vacation, and when those benefits become eligible. 


Many positions will come with a company-provided vehicle, or a monthly vehicle allowance program. Make sure you receive the details of these plans and their tax ramifications.


Most firms will have bonus programs. These are typically on an annual basis and are not usually guaranteed. Get as much information on how these plans work and when they often payout. Find out if you will be part of the current plan year on a prorated basis. 


There are some elements to the compensation package that cannot be negotiated. These include:

  • 401k plans
  • Pension Plans
  • ESOP/Stock Plans
  • Benefit Plans and their costs associated


Get Ready to Land Your Next Job Interview in the Heavy Civil and Commercial Construction Industry


When the interview is done, you don’t want to rush out of the room, relieved that it’s finally over. 


Instead, you want to end strong. You can pull this off by thanking the interviewer for their time and reiterate your interest in the position. You can ask about the next steps so that you have a clear follow-up plan. 


Later in the day, you can send an email expressing gratitude for the opportunity and share information on what you’re going to bring to the table once onboard. 


Before we wrap things up, we need to emphasize that preparation is critical. You want to be proactive in your approach and anticipate things before they happen. This way, you’ll be able to focus on the content that matters. 


We can give you pointers on how to enhance your resume and share tips on how to land your dream job offer. Make sure you get in touch.

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Ready to start preparing for your Heavy Civil, Heavy Highway, or Commercial Construction Job Interview?

When it comes to job interviews in the construction industry, preparation is key. This worksheet will help you organize and present your achievements to make the best out of that job interview.

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