When it comes to interviewing references, one of the most important steps is cross-referencing the information provided by the contractor. As a professional, I find it’s best to ask project-specific questions in addition to general questions about the contractor.
People aren’t always comfortable speaking negatively about another person, and it’s easy for them to just brush off some of the problems (if there are any). You’ll need to listen carefully to their tone of voice and enthusiasm.
Sometimes you’ll have to dig a little deeper if you think there might be more to the answer they’re dancing around. If they’re very quiet and don’t say much, that’s not a good sign. I’ll be honest with you, when someone does an amazing job for me, I try to help them out as much as I can!
I like to begin with some fundamental relationship questions because it gives you an idea of their relationship with the contractor right from the get-go. I also like to make it personal because to them, you are probably a stranger. It’s different if they were having this conversation with a close friend or family member.
Questions To Ask
- How did you meet this service professional?
- Why did you decide to work with this person over your previous relationship?
- How long have you known and worked with him/her?
- Do you still currently use this service professional?
- Why or why not?
- Have you or would you recommend them to a good friend?
Next, ask about a specific project and their experience with those details. There are two sides to every story so pay attention to how they describe the project and cross reference their information with how the contractor described it).
- Which address did you work on with this contractor?
- What was the scope of work, and how was it determined?
- How long did the project take?
- Did it finish on time?
- Why or why not?
- How did the contractor communicate with you throughout the project?
- Did you feel like this person did a good job of managing and keeping you informed on status?
- Were there any change orders?
- How were they handled?
- Did the project finish on budget?Was the contractor respectful of the job site and keep it clean and tight throughout?
- Is the project still available for me to come see the contractors work by any chance?
Last but not least, I’ll leave you with just a few questions that tell you who the contractor is and what kind of person they are. This isn’t something everyone does, but it’s important because you’re looking for people you would enjoy working with, who you’d have a good working relationship with, and will be a great team player.
Additional Questions To Ask
- Does the contractor stay calm under pressure?
- Was he/she a team player and looking to add value above and beyond?
- Did you feel he/she was respectful working with you?
- Was the contractor organized and on top of things?
- Anything that rubbed you the wrong way or maybe was just less than ideal?
Not everyone is going to want to spend hours talking about a contractor with you, and you’ll want to respect their time. Sometimes you can ask one person to reference some of these questions, and others will take care of the rest. All you have to do is ask the right questions to get a complete picture of a contractor’s skills, work ethic, and how they do business as a service provider. In addition to all of this due diligence, you’ll also want to make sure that the contractor you’re working with agrees with how you do business to avoid any miscommunications once the project starts.