The Construction Recruitment Checklist
By: Jean-Paul Diaz-Caneja
Reading time: 7 min

When your business is construction, you’ll know that it’s vital you recruit the right people – your reputation and other people’s safety depends on it. Construction is a competitive business and to stay competitive you’ll need dependable workers with the right mix of skills and a sound work ethic.

Whether you’re recruiting one person for a small job or a whole team for a large- scale project, it’s good practice to have a sound construction recruitment policy. A recruitment checklist is just part of this.

You have a checklist for all your projects, right? And recruitment is just another project that you need to succeed.

So, what’s on the recruitment checklist?

1. Your reputation

To get the best, you have to be the best. If you’re an employer of choice, you’ll be able to take your pick of the top workers. If you’re good to work for, don’t be shy about it. Make sure that your online presence (website, social media etc) tells a prospective jobholder the story of why they should apply. Employers of choice focus on:

  • Great benefits and work environment.
  • A safety culture and an attitude of continual improvement.
  • Wellness and injury prevention initiatives, such as “quit smoking” support.
  • Mentoring, blended crews and intergenerational training (you don’t want to lose that knowledge when your most experienced crew retire!)
  • Skills and career development initiatives.
  • Iconic projects (building something famous?)
  • Workplace respect initiatives.

Tell your story. Attract the best candidates. If you have awards, show them off. Build your employer brand and be as magnetic as possible.

2. The role profile

You know who you want to recruit, yes? We’re not just talking about skills and experience. Who is the ideal fit for the role, and for your business? Maybe you just need a temporary worker but if you’re looking longer term, you might want to look for talent that can go further, whom you can develop into fantastic project managers and team leaders. Personal characteristics are as important as skills and experience.

3. A great shortlisting technique

Before you even advertise for the role, make sure that you create a best-practice shortlisting process. It’ll save you time and will help choose the most suitable candidates from a big pool of applicants. It’ll also help you be consistent and fair, which means you’ll demonstrate an unprejudiced attitude to recruitment. A good short listing policy includes:

  • Essentials and desirables. The essentials are the skills and qualifications that your recruit must have for the role. Desirables are “nice to haves” – not necessary, but would make a candidate more valuable. Draw up a list of skills, qualifications and attitudes that you’d want a top-performer in the role to have (take this from your profile). Now divide those into what’s “essential” and what’s “desirable”. When you’re fighting through a whole bunch of applications, it’ll be easy to screen out the applications that don’t have all the “essentials”.
  • A scorecard to help you choose who to interview from your shortlist. A scorecard helps you rank applicants in order of suitability, and is good for fairness and consistency. You might decide to invite to interview candidates who score over a certain amount. A scorecard might look like this:

 

If you’ve decided that you’d like to interview candidates scoring over 6, then, using this scorecard, you’d invite candidates D and E.

4. Your opening hours – 24/7

Often the best workers already have a job, so if you want to poach them (naughty!) you have to be open 24/7 for them to contact you. Be easy to find. Use digital resources to create a 24-hour hotline. Use technology. Digital methodologies like our Job Today app (oops, quick plug) have revolutionised how your competitors recruit and how people look for a job. It’ll also open up a new pool of talent for you – qualified, experienced workers in the localities you need. The right tech will help you find each other.

5. Diversity

The construction industry has serious skills shortages in specialist areas. Looking in the same old talent pool just won’t cut it anymore. To be truly competitive, make sure you welcome diversity. It’s not just good for skills gaps, it’s good for business (and, hey, it’s good for society, too). The benefits of a diverse workforce have been proven. If you’re diversity-positive, you’ll:

  • Attract great workers from a wider talent pool. Construction is especially notorious for ignoring the potential talent and contribution of women to the sector.
  • Become more innovative and successful in problem solving. A team of diverse workers have more and better ideas due to their different experiences and perspectives.
  • Improve performance: a work culture that’s truly inclusive will make your workers feel valued and lead to higher engagement levels – and this means workers go beyond their job description.
  • A diverse workforce helps you expand your market: you’ll have in-house cultural know-how that you can use to appeal to a more global market.

6. A well-written job post

A well-written job post will attract the right people. Clarity is key. Know what you’re recruiting for. If you’re recruiting for a specialist role, be specific because you want to attract the real specialists, not the generalists who are taking a chance.

Don’t forget to make the post easy to read. Short sentences, bullet points and active tenses make it scanable, and use keywords that’ll attract the eye of the right candidates. A logical structure might look like:

  • The job name and location
  • The job role and the duties required
  • The skills and qualifications needed for it
  • The experience required
  • The attitudes you need (you’ll know this from the role profile, remember?)
  • About you/about the project
  • And to make it less “meh” and more “wow”, don’t be afraid to add a little personality.

7. The right interview questions

You’ve advertised, you’ve applied your shortlisting process and now you’re at the interview stage. What kind of questions should you ask? Use behavioural or situational questions that relate to the job profile. Behavioural and situational questions tell you how the candidate works, how they might fit in your culture, how they might cope with challenges or what are their attitudes to important issues like safety and quality.

Some examples for a general labourer:

  • What kind of safety hazards have you experienced, and how did you avoid them?
  • What’s the best project you’ve worked on, and why?
  • What would you do if you saw something unsafe on the site next to yours?
  • What makes a good team leader?

 8. Reference investigation

Now you’ve decide who’s right for the job, it’s important that you follow up their references. Here’s how:

  • Approach them with the view to finding more about whether your candidate is best fit for your business, rather than whether they are “good” or “bad”.
  • Send the referee a simple online form with some clear questions about the candidate’s competencies, experience and fit. If you’re asking the questions, you’ll get much more relevant answers.
  • Think about using scale points in your questions e.g. asking the referee to rank from 1 to 10 when judging aspects of the required competence e.g. teamwork, quality of work etc.

If you’ve put the work in to create a holistic recruitment checklist, you’ve just increased your chance of recruiting top quality staff. Congratulations!