39 Common Quantity Surveyor Interview Questions With Answers

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 30 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Working as a quantity surveyor may interest you if you're interested in the construction industry and have knowledge of construction costs and contracts. If you've applied for jobs in this field, it's important that you know how to present yourself and make a good impression on the hiring manager. One of the best ways to prepare for a job interview is to review common questions that interviewers ask and prepare your answers. In this article, we share 39 quantity surveyor interview questions, explain how to formulate effective answers and provide sample answers that you can use to prepare.

General quantity surveyor interview questions

At the beginning of your job interview, a hiring manager may decide to ask you a few general quantity surveyor interview questions. They typically do this to help you feel relaxed and adjust to the interview setting. These questions also help them get to know you better and understand why you're interested in working for their company and why it would benefit them to hire you. Here are some general questions that you may expect to hear:

  1. How did you learn about this job opening?

  2. Why would you like to work for this company?

  3. Why have you decided to work in quantity surveying?

  4. How did you get into this field?

  5. Where do you see yourself in five years?

  6. Why are you leaving your current employer?

  7. What's your biggest weakness as a quantity surveyor?

  8. What part of working as a quantity surveyor do you consider the most challenging?

  9. How would your former colleagues describe you?

  10. What's your salary expectation?

  11. What's your ideal work environment?

  12. What would you like to achieve in the first three months at this company?

Related: How To Become a Quantity Surveyor

Questions about background and experience

Preparing your answers to these questions may help you discuss your background and experience in an interview:

  1. What's your educational background?

  2. What's your experience working in the construction industry?

  3. How broad is your experience working with different types of contracts?

  4. Describe a time when you failed to successfully estimate project costs.

  5. Describe a time when your leadership skills helped you succeed.

  6. Tell me about a time when you used logic to solve a complex issue.

  7. Can you describe a time when you went over budget?

  8. Have you ever worked on any landmark projects?

  9. Describe a time when a supplier was promising something that you knew was unachievable.

  10. Tell me about a time when you failed to meet a project deadline.

  11. Describe a time when you had to deal with a difficult supplier and how you handled it.

Related: Interview Question: 'Tell Me About Your Educational Background'

In-depth questions

Here are some common in-depth questions that interviewers may ask to test your expertise and role-specific knowledge:

  1. How do you determine the initial timescale for a construction project?

  2. How do you keep your knowledge of construction regulations and guidelines up to date?

  3. What's the most common software that most quantity surveyors use?

  4. How do you use statistics in quantity surveying?

  5. How would you negotiate a better price for flooring with a new supplier?

  6. How do you measure a gross internal area of a building?

  7. What are some procurement routes you're aware of?

  8. What methods do you use to prepare time, cost, materials and labour estimates?

  9. What process do you follow for dilapidations negotiations?

  10. What typical defects would you expect to find in a Victorian building?

  11. Describe a time when consulting with appropriate parties helped you formulate an effective budget estimate.

Related: 11 Common Construction Job Titles (and What They Mean)

Common quantity surveyor interview questions with sample answers

Drafting answers to common interview questions and rehearsing them with someone is one of the best ways to prepare for a job interview. This technique may help you boost your confidence and make a lasting impression on the hiring manager. Here are some common quantity surveyor questions with sample answers that you can use as inspiration when preparing:

1. What's the role of quantity surveyors in the construction industry?

This question tests your general knowledge of the role and the industry. Asking this question also allows the interviewer to see if you carefully read the job description and researched the company you're interviewing with. Consider formulating an answer to show that your experience and knowledge of the role aligns with the organisation's goals. This way you can position yourself as a valuable applicant who prioritises their employer's growth and success.

Example: 'I can easily say that quantity surveyors play an important and integral role in the industry. As a quantity surveyor, I'm typically involved in almost all stages of a construction project, including feasibility, design, construction, extension, refurbishment, maintenance and even demolition. Through my work, I can help clients minimise project costs without compromising on materials, standards or quality. At the same time, I ensure that we complete projects on time and can advise clients on a range of contractual issues.'

Related: 10 High Paid Construction Jobs and Their Responsibilities

2. What's your strategy for working with suppliers and contractors during a project?

Interviewers may ask this question to see if you understand the specifics of the field. It's important that you know how to demonstrate your previous experience working with suppliers and contractors. In your answer, you may list key skills that you use to communicate with them and how your approach helps you meet deadlines within a project.

Example: 'I think that the most important thing about working with suppliers and contractors is communication. I make sure that everything I share with them is clear and that both sides understand each other's expectations. This allows me to protect the company and my clients when someone fails to deliver their promises or causes delays in the project. If a situation like that occurs, I make sure to remain assertive and keep contractors, suppliers and myself accountable so we can come up with a backup plan that the client can accept.'

3. Give me an example of when the materials weren't up to the standard.

This is a common question that interviewers ask to see if you can take responsibility for your mistakes and learn from them. If you hear this question in an interview, you may consider using the STAR response technique to formulate your answer. Using this technique allows you to clearly describe the situation, your role in it, what actions you took to solve the problem and what was the outcome of those actions.

Example: 'One time during a complex project for one of our long-term clients, I identified that materials from one of our main suppliers weren't up to our standards. Upon making this discovery, I quickly reached out to my team and organised an urgent meeting to see if we can find a solution before the deadline. Luckily, we were able to reach out to a few of our smaller suppliers who agreed to help us at a standard price even though we asked for express delivery.

At the same time, I've decided to hold the previous supplier accountable. I analysed our contracts and reached out to them the next day. I demanded that they return the full amount that we paid for the materials, including what we paid for delivery. Although they hesitated at first, I was able to convince them that paying the full amount back to us is the best option in a situation like that.'

Related: How To Use the STAR Interview Technique in Competency-Based Interviews

4. How do you maintain a good network of subcontractors?

This question tests your networking and relationship building abilities. Maintaining a strong network of contractors is essential to meeting project deadlines and minimising costs in construction. In your answer, consider sharing your strategy for building and maintaining healthy professional relationships and explain how it helps your projects succeed.

Example: 'I believe that building relationships with subcontractors is one of the most important things in this profession because they play an important role in the day-to-day progress of a project. I always make sure to reward my subcontractors and show appreciation for their work. It's my priority to ensure the company pays them on time and recognises their efforts. It's also important for me to maintain an open line of communication, as this allows me to alleviate any tensions and quickly resolve any conflicts that arise.'

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