How to win at interviewing tradespeople.

tradie business advice Hiring interviewing

It’s funny how interviewing people can almost be as nerve wracking as being interviewed yourself - especially if it’s your first time. That’s no big deal, because we sat down and had a yarn with over 20 trade business owners to see how they hire and keep world-class tradespeople. The result (after a bit of writing) was a comprehensive guide for hiring in the trades.

So how do other trade businesses hold interviews and hire the right employees for the job? Let’s find out.

Keep it informal and ensure they’re relaxed.

Interviews can seem like a necessary evil. So why not choose an informal setting? Help them relax by breaking into the questions softly like making small talk about some their hobbies or interests they mentioned on their CV.  

Have a ‘no dickhead’ policy.

Running a trade business is much like managing a sports team - everyone needs to be focused and committed to the game plan. Having someone on your team who is deeply arrogant and keeps putting themselves first is a recipe for disaster. They can have a really negative impact on the morale of your team. Even if they’re really talented, sometimes it's better to avoid them.

Be a great listener.

You’re going to be asking a number of questions here, probing your potential employees to see if they’re going to be a good fit for your business. So ask, listen, ask something else, and listen some more. Keep an ear out for what is both said and unsaid. If they're trying to skirt around a question, follow it up with a direct question to get the answer you're looking for.

Ensure their knowledge and experience match up.

People have a tendency to oversell themselves in the interview process. Address this by asking work-specific questions according to their experience. Take special note when applicants are honest and say they don’t know (rather than winging it and talking themselves up). Some questions include:

  • If I was to ask your boss how well you worked as part of a team, what would they say?
  • Tell me about a time you picked up on a small issue or problem on a job that saved your company and/or your client a lot of time and money?
  • Have you ever gone over and above for one of your customers or for someone outside of work?
See how they respond in certain situations.

For apprentices and people with limited experience, use behavioural questions to see how they approach various situations. This is a really good way to see if they show intuition, one of the standout characteristics you should look for in any hire you make.

A good fit in your company.

If you’re serious about hiring them, invite them back for a culture interview, and be sure to bring along someone else for a second opinion. The purpose of this interview is to see if they'll get along with all the other people in your business. There’s no real structure to this. It’s more just a case of having a yarn, and responding to any questions they may ask.

Interviews at different times of the day.

People tend to be either morning or afternoon people. So holding your main and culture interviews at different times of the day can be a good way to see how people operate throughout the day. You might find someone is much stronger in one part of the day than the other. If that’s the case, you could adjust their working hours to suit (if that’s at all possible for your business).

Closing the interview.

Before the interview ends, there’s one more way to test them for intuition, and that’s ask them to follow up on something after the interview. It could be as simple as emailing you a couple of photos from their current job.

So how will you put these tips to good use? Will you give yourself a better chance at landing an awesome tradesperson?

Check out our comprehensive hiring guide here.

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