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Your construction company’s reputation is made by your employees. To your customers and clients, your workers are a strong indicator of your company’s values and ethics. The quality of your construction project lies in the hands of those who build it. That’s why it’s so important to know that you’re bringing on a high-quality employee when you make a new hire.

Have you ever had a recent hire start out brilliantly, only to sink just after few months? If you’d known of these issues from the beginning, you would have been able to consider hiring someone else. Maybe the problem was more interpersonal than technical, like habitual procrastination, tardiness or difficulty in staying on task. However, sometimes in the shadows lurk far more serious issues, like previous criminal behavior, a suspended driver’s license, serious lags in safety, or worse.

That’s why checking references is essential in the hiring process, especially for construction workers. This is a field that often harnesses the power of temporary employees and contract tradesmen. Not only is it critical that you check references, but you must make sure to ask the right questions. Here are some common reference-checking mistakes you need to avoid.

Avoid vague questions

If you ask generic questions, you’re going to get superficial responses that don’t really reveal anything of substance. Think not just about the qualities necessary for the position, but also for a thriving and successful job site. Be sure to ask for specific examples, so you get more than just yes or no responses.

  • Can you give me an example of a time when the candidate had to step up to help in a challenging situation?
  • Was the candidate offered or eligible for any promotions? Why or why not?
  • Tell me about a time when the candidate helped improve or influence teamwork?
  • What are the candidate’s most helpful work habits?
  • Would you hire them again?

Ask for more references

If you don’t feel comfortable about a candidate, simply ask for more references. Don’t write the candidate off entirely because their references have been vague or prompted a few red flags. If the candidate’s qualifications are questionable, ask for additional references. There’s nothing unprofessional with requesting more information to help you get a better picture of this candidate’s future with your company.

Don’t do anything unethical to get details

When conducting your reference check, it’s important that you stay within your legal and ethical parameters. If you ignore regulations and dig too far into a candidate’s past, you could find yourself with a slew of violations on your hands. It’s always best to let the candidate know you’ll be contacting his or her references and asking detailed questions. That also gives the applicant an opportunity to be upfront and honest about anything in their past that might seem questionable during a reference check.

Get a balance between professional and personality

Yes, you need to understand if the candidate can lift certain amounts or operate specific tools, but you should also ask questions that reveal the candidate’s personality. Will he or she fit in with your team? Does this person have experience with and respect for working with diverse populations? Personality can mean as much as professionalism in many cases.

Do you need a candidate right away, but don’t have the time for a proper pre-screening? Let TKO Construction Services do the work for you. We can help you avoid taking on unnecessary risks by connecting you with our prescreened talent with strong references.

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