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20 interview questions to expect in the construction and property sector

Allan Ruddy

Get ready to knock it out of the park with top interview questions and insider tips from successful graduates in the construction and property sector.

The construction and property services sector hires graduates in a range of roles, from mechanical engineers and site inspectors to estimators and contract lawyers. To ensure that this diverse collection of professionals can work together to achieve overall business goals, and deliver on the core promises of their employers, organisations in construction and property services require all graduate applicants to pass through a stringent recruitment process.

This may involve multiple interviews, psychometric tests, group exercises, and written submissions. Little wonder—after all, those who succeed in the construction and property services sector may ultimately find themselves running large, complex teams, managing million-dollar budgets, and overseeing projects with great social or commercial significance. It takes a lot of on-the-job training to prepare workers for that degree of responsibility, and construction organisations want to be confident they’re investing that training in the right person.

So what can you do to prove that you’re the right person? Well, as they say, first impressions are lasting, so you could do worse than to prepare very carefully for your initial interviews, which are designed to help recruiters identify candidates with unusual promise and ambition. To help you get ready, we’ve asked our industry insiders—all of whom have made successful graduate applications in the past—to assist us in creating a list of 20 practice questions. After reviewing the list, you’ll also find seven insider tips that will give you an advantage when the day of the big interview rolls around. Good luck!

20 questions

Open questions

  1. If you were in our position, what sort of person would you look for to fill the role we’ve advertised?
  2. What are your pet peeves? Do you expect to encounter them while working for a construction company?
  3. Tell me about something that’s not on your resume, but which is relevant to the day-to-day life of a property accounts manager.
  4. How do you evaluate success? What would it look like if we hired you to work as a building site foreman?
  5. What challenges are you looking for in a new role? Why do you think you’ll find those challenges in the construction industry?

Organisational knowledge questions

  1. What do AECOM’s core values mean to you? Do you relate particularly strongly to any of them?
  2. How do you think Honeywell could improve its sustainability practices? Do you think we’re doing enough?  
  3. How do think Downer Group will be able to support you in achieving your career goals?
  4. What do you think Kane Construction’s strengths are as an organisation? Do you think there is anything it could do better?
  5. Which aspect of work at LendLease are you most passionate about?

Behavioral questions

  1. Tell me about a situation in which you have had to adjust to changes over which you had no control. How did you handle it?
  2. Give me an example of a time you discovered an error that been overlooked by a colleague. What did you do? What was the outcome?
  3. How have you handled a situation in the past where your client has changed the brief or shifted the goalposts?
  4. Tell me about a problem that you’ve solved in a unique or unusual way. What was the outcome? Were you happy or satisfied with it?
  5. When have you chosen to communicate a particular message in person as opposed to via email even though the email channel would have been a lot faster?

Technical questions  

  1. What characteristics do you think an estimator must possess in order to do their job effectively?
  2. Are you able to identify a possible structural issue on this architectural drawing?
  3. Describe the different methods of curing concrete. How would you decide between them?
  4. Which is stronger: a solid steel rod or a hollow steel pipe?
  5. When would you use king closers?

Seven tips from our insiders

Take a long-term view—and share it!

“Appreciate the big picture, and how your skill set fits into that. As a grad, they are interested in both what value you can bring on day one, but more importantly what your aspirations are for the longer future and whether that meshes with their own.”
Graduate, Sydney, AECOM

Show off your emotional intelligence

“Be yourself—emotional intelligence is highly rated. The graduate program is looking for its future leaders.”
Graduate, Sydney, Downer Group

Think before you answer

“Being the loud confident person in the group interview is not the best way to get through. Measured and accurate comments that make sense are a lot more worthwhile. Don't try to steer the ship without information to back you up.”
Graduate, Melbourne, Lendlease

Take advantage of any relevant work experience you might have

“Try as hard as you can to get experience prior to applying. This makes an enormous impact on your ability to be able to respond to the work you may do, as you actually have an idea of what it entails. This is of course not to say you cannot get in without experience. You just realise the value of the experience once you have it and you also gain confidence from your experience if you are good at what you do.”
Graduate, Melbourne, AECOM

Know what the construction company is in the process of constructing

“For any company, it is important to have some background knowledge on them. What projects they have completed or are working on, any events they participate in. It shows the company you have a genuine interest in working for them specifically and also you should know exactly why you want to be apart of that team.”
Graduate, Melbourne, Kane Construction

Be authentic

“Go in there and be yourself. I recall telling my interviewers about some of the things I would get up to when in a band. Just say what is on your mind, interviewers will see you as being confident and comfortable and they in turn will be also.”
Graduate, Sydney, Lendlease

Know where the organisations fits into the broader construction and property services sector

“The best preparation would be to research the company well, understand the industry you are applying for and show how passionate you are to complete the program and develop yourself.”
Graduate, Perth, Probuild