Interview

17 Quantity Surveyor Interview Questions and Answers

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

Quantity surveyors are responsible for the financial management of construction projects. They work with clients, architects, and engineers to establish budgets and then track the costs of materials, labor, and other expenses as the project progresses.

If you’re looking to enter this in-demand field, you’ll need to be able to answer questions about your experience, skills, and knowledge. In this guide, we’ll provide you with some common quantity surveyor interview questions and answers to help you prepare.

Are you familiar with the Construction Management Institute’s standards for quantity surveying?

The Construction Management Institute is an organization that sets standards for quantity surveying. The interviewer may ask this question to see if you are familiar with the institute’s standards and how they apply to your work. In your answer, explain what these standards are and why they are important.

Example: “I am very familiar with the Construction Management Institute’s standards for quantity surveying. These standards help ensure quality in construction projects by setting guidelines for things like estimating costs, managing budgets and reporting on project progress. I have been a member of the Construction Management Institute since I started my career as a quantity surveyor. Being a member has helped me learn more about best practices for my field and stay up-to-date on industry trends.”

What are the most important qualities for a successful quantity surveyor?

Employers ask this question to learn more about your work ethic and how you view the role of a quantity surveyor. They want someone who is dedicated, organized and detail-oriented. When answering this question, think about what qualities helped you succeed in previous roles. Consider mentioning some of these qualities along with any other skills that are important for a successful quantity surveyor.

Example: “I believe the most important quality for a successful quantity surveyor is attention to detail. This job requires me to examine every aspect of a construction project, so I need to be able to notice even the smallest details. Another important quality is communication. Quantity surveyors often have to communicate their findings to clients and other members of a team. I am an excellent communicator, which helps me explain complex concepts clearly.”

How do you determine the cost of a project?

This question can help the interviewer understand your process for determining costs and how you use data to make decisions. Use examples from past projects to explain how you used cost estimation software, reviewed budgets or calculated costs on a project.

Example: “I first determine what type of construction materials are needed for the project by using cost estimation software that I’ve become familiar with over my career. Then, I review the budget to see if there is enough money in the budget to cover the cost of the materials. If not, I work with the client to find ways to reduce the cost of the project while still maintaining quality.”

What is your experience with using computer programs as a quantity surveyor?

The interviewer may ask this question to learn about your computer skills and how you use them in the workplace. Use your answer to highlight any experience you have with using quantity surveyor software, such as AutoCAD or Microsoft Project. You can also share any other relevant computer programs that you are familiar with if they help you perform your job duties.

Example: “I’ve been working as a quantity surveyor for five years now, and I’m very comfortable using computer programs like AutoCAD and Microsoft Project to complete my work. In fact, I find these programs helpful because they allow me to create detailed plans of construction sites and keep track of important information. I am always looking for ways to improve my efficiency when it comes to using technology.”

Provide an example of a time you identified a cost-saving measure for a client.

Interviewers ask this question to learn more about your problem-solving skills and how you can help their company save money. In your answer, explain a specific example of when you helped a client reduce costs on a project.

Example: “In my last role as a quantity surveyor, I worked with a client who was building a new shopping center. The client wanted the best materials for the construction but also wanted to keep costs low. During our initial meeting, we discussed what they were looking for in terms of cost savings. We decided that using less expensive materials would be beneficial while still maintaining quality. After the shopping center opened, the client reported that it was one of their most profitable locations.”

If a client asked you to reduce the cost of a project by 20 percent, how would you approach this?

This question can help interviewers understand how you would react to a challenging situation. Use your answer to show that you are willing to take on difficult tasks and find solutions for them.

Example: “If a client asked me to reduce the cost of a project by 20 percent, I would first evaluate all aspects of the project to see if there were any areas where we could cut costs without affecting quality or safety. If I couldn’t find ways to save money in the current budget, I would work with my team to create new estimates based on the lower budget. This process may require us to change our timeline or scope of the project, but it’s important to do what is best for the client.”

What would you do if you were working on a project and one of your estimates was off?

Interviewers may ask this question to see how you respond to challenges. They want to know that you can take responsibility for your mistakes and learn from them. In your answer, try to explain what steps you would take to fix the mistake and ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Example: “If I made a mistake on an estimate, I would first apologize to my team members and client. Then, I would analyze why I was off in my calculations. If I could, I would adjust the project budget to reflect the new estimates. If not, I would work with the client to find ways to cut costs or add funds to make up for the difference.”

How well do you understand the concept of depreciation?

The interviewer may ask this question to assess your knowledge of accounting and financial concepts. This is because quantity surveyors often need to understand the financial aspects of their projects, including how to calculate depreciation. In your answer, try to show that you have a strong understanding of what depreciation is and how it works.

Example: “I find the concept of depreciation very interesting. It’s essentially when an asset loses value over time due to wear and tear or obsolescence. I’ve worked on several construction projects where we needed to account for depreciation in our calculations. For example, if a piece of equipment costs $100,000 but will only last five years before needing replacement, then we would depreciate its value by 20% each year. This means that after one year, the equipment would be worth $80,000.”

Do you have experience working with clients who aren’t familiar with the intricacies of construction projects?

Interviewers may ask this question to assess your ability to communicate with clients and other stakeholders. They want to know that you can explain complex construction processes in a way that is easy for others to understand. In your answer, try to describe how you would approach communicating with these types of clients or stakeholders.

Example: “I have worked on projects where the client was not an expert in construction. I find it helpful to use visuals when explaining complicated concepts. For example, if I am discussing the cost of labor, I will pull up a spreadsheet showing the total hours needed for each task. This helps them see exactly what goes into a project and gives them a better understanding of why certain costs are higher than expected.”

When is it appropriate to make changes to a project’s scope?

The interviewer may ask you this question to assess your decision-making skills and how they apply to the role. Use examples from past projects where you made changes to scope, including why you made those changes and what impact they had on the project’s timeline or budget.

Example: “I would recommend making changes to a project’s scope when it is necessary for the success of the project. For example, I worked with a client who wanted to build a new shopping center in an area that was not as populated as other areas in their city. We recommended adding more stores to the shopping center because we knew there were enough people living in the surrounding neighborhoods to support the additional stores. The client agreed, and we added two more stores to the shopping center.”

We want to ensure our clients are happy with our work. How would you rate your communication skills as a quantity surveyor?

Interviewers may ask this question to see how you interact with clients and other stakeholders. Quantity surveyors often work closely with construction managers, architects and engineers, so it’s important that you can communicate effectively with all of these individuals.

Example: “I have always been a strong communicator, which is why I chose the field of quantity surveying. I enjoy working with others to solve problems and find solutions. In my last role, I worked on a project where we had to coordinate with several different parties. I was able to clearly explain our progress to each party and answer any questions they had about our work. This helped us maintain open communication throughout the entire process.”

Describe your process for ensuring you have a representative sample of the area you’re measuring.

The interviewer may ask you this question to assess your ability to apply the scientific method in your work. Use examples from past projects where you applied sampling techniques and how they helped you achieve accurate results.

Example: “In my last project, I had to measure a large area of land that was divided into several different plots. To ensure I measured each plot accurately, I used stratified random sampling to select representative samples for each plot. This allowed me to calculate the total area of all the plots by adding up the individual areas of each sample.”

What makes you stand out from other quantity surveyors?

Employers ask this question to learn more about your skills and experience as a quantity surveyor. They want to know what makes you unique from other candidates applying for the same position. Use your answer to highlight any specialties or certifications you have that make you stand out from others. You can also share an example of how these skills helped you complete a project successfully.

Example: “I believe my biggest strength is my attention to detail. I am always sure to double-check all of my work before submitting it to clients. This has saved me from making costly mistakes in the past, which has allowed me to maintain a high level of accuracy in my estimates. Another skill I have is my ability to communicate effectively with clients. I enjoy meeting with them to discuss their projects and find ways to meet their needs while staying within budget.”

Which construction projects have you worked on in the past?

This question can help the interviewer get a better idea of your experience level. You can use this opportunity to highlight any projects you’ve worked on that were particularly challenging or interesting.

Example: “I recently completed a project where I had to estimate how much it would cost to build a new parking garage for an office building. The client wanted to know if they could save money by using different materials, so I had to research which ones would be most cost-effective and still meet safety standards. In the end, we found that using more durable materials actually saved the company money in the long run.”

What do you think is the most important thing for a quantity surveyor to remember on the job?

This question is a great way for the interviewer to assess your interpersonal skills and how you interact with others. Quantity surveyors often work in teams, so it’s important that they can communicate effectively and collaborate with their colleagues. In your answer, try to highlight your communication skills and emphasize how you enjoy working as part of a team.

Example: “I think the most important thing for a quantity surveyor to remember on the job is that we’re all here to help each other succeed. I’m always willing to lend a hand or offer advice when needed, and I expect my coworkers to do the same. It’s also important to me that everyone understands what their role is within the company and that we all respect one another.”

How often do you make mistakes when estimating a project’s costs?

This question can help the interviewer determine how often you make mistakes and how you handle them. It can also show whether you are willing to admit your errors and learn from them. When answering this question, it can be helpful to mention a specific mistake you made in the past and what steps you took to improve your estimating skills.

Example: “I have only made one major mistake when estimating costs for a project. The client wanted us to estimate the cost of their new construction project without including any labor costs. I was able to do so by using my previous experience with similar projects, but after completing the estimate, I realized that I had forgotten to include the cost of materials. I immediately contacted the client and explained my error. They were understanding and we worked together to create an accurate estimate.”

There is a disagreement between the construction team and the client about the direction of the project. How would you handle this?

The interviewer may ask you a question like this to assess your conflict resolution skills. This is an important skill for quantity surveyors because they often work with clients and construction teams who have different opinions about the project’s direction. In your answer, demonstrate that you can use your problem-solving and communication skills to resolve disagreements between parties.

Example: “I would first try to understand both sides of the disagreement. I would then explain my understanding of each party’s concerns and offer solutions to help them reach a compromise. If necessary, I would involve other members of the team or senior management to help resolve the disagreement.”

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