Interview

17 Estimator Interview Questions and Answers

Learn what skills and qualities interviewers are looking for from an estimator, what questions you can expect, and how you should go about answering them.

As a construction estimator, you are responsible for figuring out how much a construction project will cost. This is a critical role on any construction project, as it helps to ensure that the project stays on budget.

In order to be successful in this role, you need to be able to answer common estimator interview questions. In this guide, we will provide you with some tips on how to answer these questions, as well as a list of questions that you may be asked during an interview.

Common Estimator Interview Questions

Are you comfortable working with numbers?

This question is a good way to assess your math skills. Employers ask this question because they want to know if you can perform the calculations necessary for estimating projects. In your answer, share that you have strong math skills and are willing to take on any challenges that come with working as an estimator.

Example: “I am very comfortable working with numbers. I took several advanced math classes in high school and college, so I’m confident in my ability to calculate estimates. If there’s ever a time when I need help calculating something, I would be more than happy to reach out to someone who has stronger math skills than me.”

What are some of your previous job experiences that qualify you for an estimator position?

Employers ask this question to learn more about your background and how it relates to the position you’re applying for. Use your answer to highlight some of your most relevant experiences, such as previous estimator positions or other jobs that involved estimating projects.

Example: “I’ve been an estimator for five years now, starting out in construction management before moving into my current role at ABC Construction where I’m responsible for overseeing all aspects of a project’s budgeting process. In both roles, I’ve gained valuable experience working with clients and contractors to ensure projects stay within their budgets while still meeting client expectations.”

How would you rate your communication skills? Can you provide an example from your previous job that demonstrates your communication skills?

The interviewer may ask this question to assess your ability to communicate with clients and other team members. Use examples from previous jobs that show you can clearly explain complex ideas, collaborate with others and solve problems through communication.

Example: “I have always been a strong communicator, which has helped me in my previous roles as an estimator. In my last position, I had to work with several different teams of construction workers who were all working on the same project. To ensure everyone was on the same page, I would hold weekly meetings where I explained the current status of the project and answered any questions they had. This helped keep the entire project moving forward.”

What is your process for determining the cost of a project? Can you provide an example from your previous job?

This question allows you to show your interviewer how you use your skills and experience to determine the cost of a project. You can describe your process for determining costs, including any tools or software you may use.

Example: “I start by researching the materials needed for the job. I then estimate the labor hours required to complete the project. After that, I calculate the equipment rental fees and transportation expenses. Finally, I add in my margin percentage to get the total estimated cost of the project.”

Provide an example of a time when you made a mistake in your cost estimates and what you did to fix the mistake.

Interviewers ask this question to see how you respond to mistakes and learn from them. They want to know that you are willing to admit your errors, take responsibility for them and work hard to fix them. In your answer, try to be honest about the mistake you made and explain what steps you took to correct it.

Example: “In my last position as an estimator, I was estimating a project for a client who wanted us to build a new warehouse facility. The client had already provided me with some of the information I needed to estimate the job, but they were still waiting on some additional details before we could complete the rest of the estimate. When I submitted the initial estimate, I didn’t realize that one of the items I hadn’t included in the price was a large parking lot.

When the client received the estimate, they called me immediately to let me know there was no mention of a parking lot. I apologized for the oversight and told them I would get back to them once I had all the necessary information. After speaking with the client again, I realized that I had forgotten to include the cost of paving the parking lot in the estimate. I updated the estimate to reflect the costs of building the parking lot and resubmitted it to the client.”

If you had to choose, which areas of construction do you have the most experience estimating costs for?

This question is a great way for the interviewer to learn more about your experience and expertise. It’s important to be honest in your answer, but you can also use this opportunity to highlight any areas where you’re willing to develop your skills.

Example: “I have the most experience estimating costs for residential construction projects. I’ve worked on several of these types of projects over my career, so I’m familiar with the materials and labor that go into them. However, I am always open to learning new things and developing my skills. If you hire me, I would love to take on commercial construction estimations as well.”

What would you do if you had to estimate the cost of a project, but you didn’t have access to all of the necessary information?

This question can help the interviewer assess your problem-solving skills and ability to work independently. Use examples from previous projects where you had to estimate costs without all of the information, but still managed to complete the project successfully.

Example: “I once worked on a construction project that required me to estimate the cost of materials before I could determine how much labor would be needed. However, I was able to use my experience as an estimator to predict what types of materials would be used for the job based on similar projects in the past. This helped me come up with a reasonable estimate for the project’s total cost.”

How well do you perform under pressure? Can you provide an example from your previous job where you had to meet a tight deadline?

Interviewers ask this question to see how you handle pressure and deadlines. They want to know that you can complete projects on time, even when the deadline is tight. Use your answer to show that you are a hard worker who will do whatever it takes to meet a deadline.

Example: “I am someone who thrives under pressure. I have always been able to get my work done quickly, which has helped me in previous jobs where I had to meet tight deadlines. For example, at my last job, we were working on a project for a client who wanted their product delivered within two weeks. We all worked together as a team to make sure we met our deadline.”

Do you have experience using cost estimation software?

This question can help the interviewer determine your comfort level with using software to complete projects. If you have experience using cost estimation software, share what type of software you used and how comfortable you were with it. If you don’t have experience using this type of software, explain that you are willing to learn new programs or applications if hired for the position.

Example: “I’ve worked in construction my entire career, so I’m very familiar with estimating costs on a variety of projects. In my last role, we used an online program called ProBuild Cost Estimator to estimate costs for our clients. The program was easy to use, and I found it helpful to be able to access estimates from anywhere as long as I had internet access.”

When estimating the cost of a project, what is the largest project you’ve worked on?

This question can help the interviewer understand your experience level and how you’ve grown as an estimator. When answering this question, it can be helpful to mention a specific project that was challenging or interesting.

Example: “The largest project I have worked on so far is a commercial construction project for a new shopping center. The budget for this project was $10 million, which was quite large compared to other projects I had done at the time. However, with my team, we were able to create a detailed plan of what needed to be done and estimate costs based on our research. In the end, we completed the project within the budget and even finished ahead of schedule.”

We want to become known for having the lowest costs in our industry. How would you help us achieve this goal?

This question is a great way to test your problem-solving skills and ability to work as part of a team. When answering this question, it can be helpful to explain how you would approach the situation and what steps you would take to help achieve the goal.

Example: “I think that one of the best ways to become known for having the lowest costs in our industry is by creating an environment where everyone feels comfortable sharing ideas and suggestions on how we can save money while still providing quality services. I would encourage my coworkers to share their thoughts with me so that I could compile them into a list of cost-saving strategies. Then, I would present these ideas to management so they could decide which ones are worth implementing.”

Describe your process for keeping track of your estimates and keeping them up-to-date.

This question is an opportunity to show your interviewer that you have a system in place for keeping track of estimates and how you stay organized. Your answer should include the steps you take to keep track of all your projects, including any software or apps you use to help you manage your time and tasks.

Example: “I use a project management app called Trello to organize my work. I create separate boards for each client and then create lists within those boards for different aspects of the job, such as materials, labor and equipment. Then, I add cards to each list with more information about the task at hand. For example, if I’m creating a card for the materials list, I’ll write down what materials are needed for the job and when they need to be delivered.”

What makes you the best candidate for this job?

Employers ask this question to learn more about your qualifications and how you can contribute to their company. Before your interview, make a list of all the skills you have that are relevant to this role. Think about what makes you unique compared to other candidates.

Example: “I am an expert at using construction software programs like Procore and PlanGrid. I also have five years of experience as an estimator for large-scale commercial projects. In my last position, I was responsible for estimating costs on $100 million worth of projects each year. My background in construction management and my expertise with these software programs make me the best candidate for this job.”

Which estimating methods do you prefer to use and why?

This question can help the interviewer understand your experience level and how you approach projects. Your answer should include a brief description of each method you use, along with an example of when it was helpful to use that method.

Example: “I prefer using bottom-up estimating because I find it’s the most accurate way to estimate costs for clients. In my last role, I used this method to determine the cost of materials needed for a project. I first determined the total square footage of the space I would be working on and then calculated the amount of material needed per square foot. This helped me accurately calculate the cost of the entire project.”

What do you think is the most important skill for an estimator to have?

This question is your opportunity to show the interviewer that you have the skills and abilities necessary for this role. You can answer by identifying a skill from the job description and explaining how you use it in your work.

Example: “I think one of the most important skills an estimator needs is communication. I’ve found that being able to clearly explain what I’m doing and why helps my clients understand the process and feel confident about the estimates I provide. It also allows me to gather more information when needed, which helps me create accurate estimates.”

How often do you make mistakes when estimating costs for projects?

This question can help the interviewer determine how often you make mistakes and how you handle them. It can also show them your self-awareness, which is an important skill for any employee to have. When answering this question, it can be helpful to mention a specific mistake you made in the past and what you learned from it.

Example: “I’ve never made a mistake that cost my company money, but I have made some mistakes when estimating costs for projects. For example, once I forgot to include shipping costs in my estimate for a project. This led to the client being unhappy with the final price because of the additional costs they had to pay. After that experience, I started making sure to include all possible expenses in my estimates.”

There is a disagreement in the team about the cost of a project. How would you handle this?

This question is a great way to test your problem-solving skills and ability to work in a team. Your answer should show that you can be diplomatic, but also make sure the project stays within budget.

Example: “I would first try to understand why there are disagreements about the cost of the project. I would then ask for more information from each person involved so we could all have the same facts. Once everyone has the same information, I would encourage them to discuss their concerns with one another until they find a solution. If this doesn’t solve the issue, I would take it upon myself to research the topic further and come up with an accurate estimate.”

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