50 Contractor Interview Questions
Contractor Interview Questions - If You're a Millionaire, STOP reading now
Contractor interview questions are extremely important. You must convince yourself that you're hiring a person that will:
- respect you and your property
- is honest
- is trustworthy
- finish the job for the agreed-upon price to your satisfaction
Do Professionals Refuse to Answer Questions?
No, a professional understands your anxiety. She/he understands that many other homeowners have been taken to the cleaners by dishonest and bottom-feeder contractors. Shifty contractors will get uncomfortable very fast when you start to ask too many questions.
What's at Stake If I Just Hope the Contractor is Great?
Your money and peace of mind. If either of those two doesn't matter to you, then just sign the contract and get on with your life. If you don't care about losing thousands of dollars by hiring a dishonest contractor, then you can just stop reading now.
It's important to realize that you should have complete confidence you have the right person for the job. Don't make a decision based on hope. You only hope for something when you can't control the outcome.
You can control what contractor works for you.
How Did You Come up with These Questions?
I was lucky enough to interview a seasoned police department detective for this column. His name was Donald Clark and he had interviewed hundreds of people over his career about countless topics. "Tim, people love to talk about themselves. When you ask questions in the right way and the right order you'd be surprised what the person will gush out," Don told me during the interview. Don suggested many of the following questions as they open a window into the average person's feelings about all sorts of things.
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's important to me/us that I/we get to know you. I need to trust that you are the right person to work in 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 downtime you experienced between jobs?
A contractor in demand has little or no downtime.
- 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 the 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 to 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 three material suppliers?
Contact the general manager or accounts receivable person 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!