The Contractor Interview

A reader commented that the recently-posted reference screening questions were helpful to her. So I thought I’d follow up with a recommended list of questions for the actual contractor interview! As mentioned in earlier postings, you should treat the contractor hiring process as seriously as you would if you were recruiting to fill a position at work.


Once you have your list of contractor candidates, conduct a one-on-one interview at the job site. Use this session to show candidates the project area, thoroughly describing your expectations. It is extremely helpful to share photos, whether it’s the before photo of a home or room that needs to be restored to its original state, or magazine images that demonstrate your vision for a new and improved look. A good contractor will ask you specific questions to clarify the scope of work, take photos, notes and measurements on the spot and follow up with a bid. If he does not do all of these things, he is not the contractor for you. You will want to ask him questions about his experience, schedule and best estimate for a time line. A suggested interview guide follows.


Interview Guide:


·         How long have you been in business?

·         What percentage of your work is repeat business?

·         What separates you from other contractors?

·         Where are you located?

·         Where are your subcontractors located?

·         Have you performed other work in my area?

·         Have you been involved in other projects of this type?

·         Have you completed projects of this scope?

·         How many other projects are you working on at this time?

·         How long will it take for me to receive a bid?

·         When is the earliest you would be able to start?

·         What is your best estimate of the time required to complete my project?

·         Are you familiar with the building codes in my city?

·         How large is your in-house crew?

·         How large of a crew will you assign to my job?

·         How many carpenters will you assign to my job?

·         How many painters will you assign to my job?

·         Do you build cabinetry in-house or subcontract it out to another vendor?

·         Do you have in-house electricians, plumbers and heating specialists?

·         Do you handle glass in-house or subcontract with a vendor?

·         Do you handle flooring in-house or subcontract with a vendor?

·         Are you licensed to perform abatement of hazardous materials?

·         Do you handle commercial construction as well as residential?

·         Do you have Worker’s Compensation insurance?

·         Do you have Public Liability insurance?

·         Do you have a valid State Contractor’s license?

·         Do you have a current City Business license?

·         Do you offer a warranty?

·         Have you had any complaints, judgments or lawsuits filed against you?

·         Have you ever faced potential bankruptcy?

·         May I have your business card?

·         What is your cell phone number (if not on business card)?

·         What is your email address (if not on business card)?


A candidate may tell you he doesn’t take on your type of project. If that is the case, thank him for his honesty and ask him if he knows someone else who does.



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