Q&A / 

50 Contractor Interview Questions

50 Contractor Interview Questions

You may want to modify the order of the questions. A question I propose may stimulate a question you feel is important. Remember, YOU control the interview. The contractor is on the hot seat, not you. If at all possible, try to have a spouse present with you. Have the spouse ask some of the questions. Don't be shy. Remember, the contractor has sat through many a presentation, while this may be your first attempt. Open up the discussion by telling the contractor, "It is important to me that I get to know you. I need to trust that you are the right person to work on my home." Words similar to that set the stage quite well!

  • How many people - direct employees - work for your company?
    This answer will give you an indication of company depth.

  • What are their job descriptions?
    This answer tells you if the contractor has adequate support staff.
  • What do they do each day?
    You should get a feel if the people are full or part time.
  • How many jobs does your company have in progress right now?
    Will your job be lost among these?
  • What is the average number of jobs you do at the same time?
    Does this number seem in line with the amount of support staff

  • Do you have any other outstanding bids right now?
    If these turn into jobs, will your job drop to the bottom of the list?
  • Do you work from your home?
    This can be a sign of under-capitalization. I never had an office of my own, so ask more if this is important to you. 
  • How do you manage your jobs on a day-to day basis?
    All jobs require management. Ask for details! Who checks for quality, mistakes and progress?

  • Who will be on-site and in charge of my job each day?
    Get a name and cell phone/pager number!
  • Have you or your company ever been sued before?
    The truth is available in the courthouse records!
  • Have you or your company ever sued anyone or filed mechanics liens before?
    What happened? Why the disagreement?
  • What is the worst building experience that happened to you?
    Listen! What is the story behind the tale?
  • What has been your best building experience?
    Listen! What is it he/she likes to do? Ask why.
  • What are your business ambitions?
    Are the words quality, customer satisfaction in the answer? If you hear, "...make a lot of money..." WATCH OUT!
  • Have you ever been on unemployment before?
    Many people have. Ask why, how long.
  • What is the longest amount of down-time you experienced between jobs?
    A contractor in demand has little or no down time.
  • Who were your two best customers? Why?
    Listen! Do you sound similar or opposite?
  • Who were your two worst customers? Why?
    Listen very closely..... do you sense a conflict on the horizon?
  • Who do you most admire? Why?
    It better be the person's spouse or a close family member.
  • Do you volunteer to work at your church? Describe.
    Need I say more?
  • Do you have children? Ages?
    If so, does the contractor seem interested in them? Sense any negativity?
  • Do you do volunteer work at your child's school? Describe.
    Coaching, PTO, committees, etc?
  • Have you/your company ever caused/been involved in an accident that caused someone to receive hospital treatment or be hospitalized?
    This is ANY accident. Automobile, construction incident, etc.
  • What is the dumbest thing you ever did?
    Was this recent activity or a childhood mistake?
  • What is the smartest thing you have done?
    Look for wisdom here. Do you sense intelligence or luck?
  • May I please inspect the inside of your truck or car?
    This tells / shows organizational skills.
  • Do you use sub-contractors?
    Most contractors do.
  • What is average length of time they have worked for you?
    You are looking for 5 or more years here!
  • Do these individuals have Workman's Comp & General Liability coverage?
    Better be a "Yes!
  • Can you supply me with the individual certificates from each company to prove this? When will I have them?
    Stop the conversation and write down the day he says they will be delivered.
  • May I please see your driver's license?
    He/she may not have one! DUI, suspension, etc. Stranger things have happened!
  • What are your two favorite hobbies?
    Everyone needs to unwind. Listen for things that you like.
  • What is the title of the last book you read?
    Listen! This answer tells you much about personal interests
  • What trade magazines do you subscribe to?
    Ask to borrow some back issues for design ideas.
  • Do you have Internet access?
    In today's world, it should be a "Yes!"
  • What are your 2 favorite building & remodeling websites?
    Go visit them. See what you can learn.
  • When was your last vacation?
    It better be within the past 18 months.
  • Where did you go?
    Modest or extravagant
  • Do you plan to vacation during my job?
    If "Yes", who will manage in his/her absence?
  • What do you want to accomplish in life?
    Listen again. Is it a selfish answer or one that has a sharing theme?
  • Do you belong to any professional associations?
    A "Yes" would be preferable, but not necessary.
  • If "Yes", do you attend regular meetings or hold an office within the association?
    Active membership tells you a Pro is answering the question!
  • Do you attend national trade conventions?
    Ask where and when. Where is the next one? Go to www.nahb.com to find out!
  • Have you taken any continuing education classes?
    In what areas?
  • Where do you bank?
    Is it local?
  • Do you have a separate company bank account?
    Mixing funds in one account is a recipe for disaster.
  • Do you supply notarized affidavits or release of liens BEFORE I give you payments of any kind?
    This must be a "YES!" It is unconditional.
  • Do you invest in the stock market?
    Doesn't have to be a "Yes", but is this person a forward thinker - a planner?
  • Who are your top 3 material suppliers?
    Contact the GM at each place. Is the contractor in good standing?
  • Have you ever declared bankruptcy or operated a company under a different name?
    Listen to this answer!

SPONSORS / 

2 Responses to 50 Contractor Interview Questions

  1. "May I please inspect the inside of your truck or car? "

    Have you seen "clients from hell"? I'd be ending the meeting right there and then if anyone ever asked me a question that presumptuous and ridiculous. It would indicate only that you have micro-managerial tendencies that would be intolerable in any reasonable client. You should only ask such a truly stupid question if you really want to damage your reputation when prospective contractors describe their experience of meeting you to their peers. A meeting isn't an interrogation or an opportunity for you to get away with acting like an ass. Remember that if you ever want anyone reasonable to work for you.

    • Rachel, I have to disagree. It's not about micro-managing. It's about doing your due diligence. That question is very simple. If the inside of a contractor's truck looks like a LANDFILL, how do you think he'll treat the inside of your home? If the inside of his truck is pretty clean - and I know MANY CONTRACTORS who have very clean truck interiors - how do you think he'll care for your most expensive possession?

      I worked for micro managers. In fact, it's the reason I started AsktheBuilder.com. But my twenty years of doing AsktheBuilder.com and my syndicated newspaper column has proven that TENS OFTHOUSANDS of homeowners should have asked that question of their contractors. Why? I get to do autopsies each day when homeowners come to me telling me how SLOPPY, DISGUSTING, FILTHY their houses are because they made the MISTAKE of choosing contractors that have very bad habits about cleanliness and respect of property.

      You go ahead and end that meeting in the future. But ask yourself the question Clint Eastwood poses to the bank robber at the beginning of Dirty Harry. "Do you feel lucky? Well do ya punk?" That customer you walk away from could be your ten-million-dollar customer - the one that CONNECTS you to many other of his/her friends who's collective contracts on all the work adds up to MORE THAN ANY OTHER REFERRAL.

      I was LUCKY enough in my career to have one of these Golden Customers. I'm glad I didn't walk out of the meeting because HE DID ASK ME A SERIES OF TOUGH QUESTIONS that fortunately I had all the right answers for. I wish you the best in your future gambling encounters.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>