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7 Questions You Should Ask Before Hiring a Civil Engineer

The global civil engineering sector is valued at $7.84 trillion, expected to grow 5.6% from 2018 to 2025. 

As the urban population rises and city infrastructure needs increase, the demand for professionals who can conceive, design, build and oversee such projects as roadways, bridges, and airports is strong. 

This makes these professionals valuable resources in firms around the world, from construction companies to government office buildings. 

Are you planning to hire a civil engineer for your business? If so, it’s important to thoroughly vet all candidates to find the right fit.

Today, we’re sharing seven questions you should ask during the interview to assess each person’s experience, communication style, and work ethic.

Ready to learn more? Let’s go!

1. How Timely is Your Communication?

One of your first civil engineering interview questions should analyze how well the candidate is about returning emails and phone calls.

Establishing response times at the onset is critical, as it helps firms better plan projects and set end-user expectations.

The only catch? While timely follow-up is key, the right answer to this question isn’t always “immediately.” 

During the design phase of a project, for instance, a civil engineer might need a longer time to look at objectives from all angles and weigh alternatives. 

Yet, when construction picks up, the pace should, too. An engineer who allows days to pass before responding to a phone call is wasting both your time and your money. Setting expectations early on helps you avoid such delays. 

2. Price Aside, Why Should I Hire You?

During the hiring and planning phases of a construction project, you might be tempted to go with the lowest-priced teams, simply to allot more money to the building phase. 

Yet, choosing an inexperienced civil engineer can wind up costing you thousands of more dollars down the road. 

Look at qualifications first and let those be the leading factor in your decision. Then, once you’ve identified the person who fits the bill, you can negotiate the fee.

An engineer who can produce a quality set of plans and drawings in the beginning will drive down your construction costs. As such, don’t be put off by a price tag until you consider the expertise that goes along with it. 

Ask interviewees to provide you with an example of plans and drawings they’ve done in the past. Ask for a list of professional references. Then, inquire about their work history, design approach, education and more.

3. Do You Perform Quality Control?

The civil engineer you hire should have a set system in place for performing quality control or quality assurance checks throughout the project.

This helps identify potential problems in real time and ensures against costly and time-consuming change orders. 

Ask about his or her process for conducting tests, including a final deliverable review. You should be met with a detailed explanation of how the engineer plans to approach this process and the timeline for each checkpoint. 

4. What Can You Do to Drive Down Construction Costs?

Engineering is one of the first steps of your project. The construction phase is another one. To save money here, you’ll need top-notch plans and drawings that leave nothing up to chance or the imagination. 

When plans are vague, construction contractors will often submit higher-priced bids, as they have to protect themselves from unforeseen design issues.

Yet, when you’re as thorough and transparent with your drawings as possible, bids will be lower and more realistic in terms of quantities and costs, lowering the overall price of your project. 

This is where an excellent civil engineer is invaluable. When contractor quotes come back accurate, you can rest assured that you aren’t overspending. 

5. How Much Say Do I Have?

Your civil engineer should hold regular, face-to-face meetings with your team to keep you abreast on progress and answer any questions. 

If you feel that you’re unable to speak up, provide recommendations or request a change, it’s time to look elsewhere.

In reality, you know your systems through and through and are well-positioned to speak on them. Your eye is critical to the project and the engineer should treat it as such. 

This way, you can identify discrepancies and issues early on, helping to keep the project on track. 

6. Can You Discuss Your Proposal First?

Before signing on the dotted line, it’s important that the civil engineer you select meets with your team to provide a comprehensive proposal of the design.

Only when you’re comfortable with it should your move forward and enter into a contract. 

From the mayor to town council members, involve key stakeholders in this process and make it an in-person meeting, if possible. During the proposal review, you can determine which resources will be necessary for the project, which helps with budgeting and timeline planning.

7. What Sets You Apart from Your Peers?

There are likely many civil engineers who can provide the scope of services you need. In fact, this useful site features a host of industry professionals looking for their next project.

When you have multiple candidates, consider this: what sets each interviewee apart? 

Do they take a personalized approach to every project? Is their customer service above par? Can they advocate for your company if need be? Is their knowledge on the subject purely technical or do they have the hands-on experience to back it up?

Ask each candidate to describe why you should pick him and what traits and techniques they possess that make them different. If they balk at the question and aren’t comfortable answering, keep searching.

One of the top traits you should look for in an applicant is confidence. Look for someone who can speak authoritatively on why they’re the best in the business. 

Find a Civil Engineer Today

Are you looking to add a civil engineer to your team? If so, you’ll have plenty of candidates to choose from.

The key to finding the ideal fit is to conduct an in-depth interview beforehand, covering all the basics (and then some) to get a feel for how each person will approach the project. 

Need a template to help you structure the interview process?

That’s where we come in.

We offer standardized forms and guides that make every business aspect, from job applications to payroll, a breeze. 

Check out our sample interview questions to get started, and you’ll be one step closer to creating your dream team.