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How To Effectively Recruit Skilled Builders

Recruiting Skilled Builders

Because it’s tough finding tradespeople you may be tempted to take on new employees too quickly. You wouldn’t pour a foundation without first knowing what is below the ground! So you probably shouldn’t employ a new team member without first checking their suitability.

In this article I outline 4 key safeguards against hasty recruiting.

In Person

When interviewing builders, it’s always best to meet them in person. It helps you get a well rounded impression. Think of it like buying a used truck online… usually we want to view it first to ensure it’s all it’s cracked up to be.

Of course, if you’re hiring from abroad, then you may not have the option of meeting in person first. So the second best option is a video call, as we learn much more by seeing than simply by hearing.

When you see a person it allows you to assess not only what they might say, but all the things they don’t say. Psychology Today says that 55% of communication is via body language, 38% is by the tone of voice, and only 7% is though the actual words spoken. So if you can only hear your candidate you may only get half the story!

How does your candidate dress for the interview? Is there an effort to be presentable? How a person dresses can tell you a lot about their personal pride and respect for others.

Get Evidence – Test

You’re struggling to find staff, when suddenly you get a hit on your advert with a CV. It’s tidy and neat, they’re a qualified builder and they have some good experience. Great! But… don’t be blinded by the light. Get your own evidence by test their skills.

Some builders I know who have hired workers abroad, have actually visited the country in person and asked the candidates to complete a small building task/test. This way they have been able to  assess the quality of workmanship and select more carefully.

Behavioural Interview Questions

Asking the right questions is another important way to recruiting the right builder. Past behaviour is a good predictor of future performance. How many times have you heard of someone hiring a builder who looked good on paper, only to find they were a bad fit for the team and company.  They would turn up late to jobs, they wouldn’t pull their weight, or they just didn’t get on with the rest of the team.

Asking competency/behaviour based questions can help you to assess whether the candidate has the right skills and attitudes for the job.

Behavioural questions look at the actions taken in a past situation. They not only tell you about  experience but about skills and attitudes/values.

Here are some examples of some behavioural interview questions:

    • Tell me about a time when you displayed leadership?

    • Give an example of a time when you had to go beyond what was required of you to ensure the customer was satisfied?

    • Tell me about a situation when you had to show exceptional teamwork?

    • Give an example of a time when you had a run in with a teammate. How did you handle it?

    • Describe a time when you had to learn a new skill quickly.

    • Give an example of a time when you used your initiative to overcome an obstacle.

The best way to find behavioural questions is to look at your job description and identify the key competencies, skills and attitudes necessary for the role. From here, create 2-3 questions for each, like the ones above, that will ask the candidate to give examples of when they have displayed the skills.


The key part is to listen for the actions they took. Don’t get caught up in the details of the actual situation or the result.  It’s the behaviours they displayed – that led to the result – that is going to tell you the most. You may need to ask probing questions to your candidate to give the information you want.

A simple tool is the CAR technique: C – Context.  What was the situation you found yourself in? A – Action. What actions did you take? R – Result. What was the result/outcome.

You may even want to qualify some situations with an additional L – Learnings. What did you learn from this situation?


You wouldn’t buy a car without first looking under the hood and checking the service history.  Similarly, you wouldn’t hire a builder without first checking with their past employers. References are an integral part of the recruitment process. As a rule of thumb, two references are minimum. Ask for their current employer and most recent employers.

Then, when doing the reference check, listen to the tone of voice and to what is not said.

Here are some examples of reference questions:

    • How would you rate Bob’s attention to detail?

    • How likely would you be to hire Bob again?

    • As a team member, how did he relate to others?

    • How would you describe his trustworthiness?

    • Was he always punctual?

    • What would you say are his top 3 strengths?

    • What would you say are areas for improvement?

    • Is there anything else you think we should be aware of?

Finding the right builder for your team does take some effort. But the benefits of going through a structured interview process far outweighs the risk ( and cost) of hiring the wrong person.

P.S. Whenever you’re ready….here are 3 ways I can help you grow your building business:

  1. Grab a copy of my free book It’s a road map of a successful 15 minute sales call that’s guaranteed to increase your conversion rate.
  2. Join Trade Mates and connect with builders who are scaling too. It’s our new Facebook community where smart builders learn to get more income, time and freedom. View our free business resources for builders. Ask questions of like minded business owners and business coaches. Give your knowledge and expertise to help others. –
  3.  Join Loft Members If you’d like help to get off the tools, make more money and get your life back…just  message me at and put “LOFT MEMBERS” in the subject…tell me a little about your business and I’ll get you all the details.


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