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Building Inspector Interview
Questions

27 Questions and Answers by Rachelle Enns
Updated September 9th, 2020 | Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.
Job Interviews     Careers     Construction    

Question 1 of 27

When have you taken an existing inspection process and used your own creativity to make it better?

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1.

When have you taken an existing inspection process and used your own creativity to make it better?

Are you given the creative freedom to improve existing processes? Talk to the interviewer about your ability to take an existing process and improve it in a creative way.

Rachelle's Answer #1

"Last month my supervisor asked me to take our existing inspections training package and improve it. My goal was to make the system more engaging for new recruits. Once we implemented my ideas, we increased our new trainee retention rate by 16%. I was quite proud of what my creativity could do!"

Rachelle's Answer #2

"As I am newer to my career as a building inspector I have not had the opportunity to make changes in the process. I do have some great ideas; however, and I look forward to presenting them as my experience grows."

Anonymous Answer

"In my current position, I have to inspect my plant every day. I run a very large plant, and it is difficult sometimes to remember the 100's of things I need to look at every day. I made my self a daily spreadsheet of all the things that I need to inspect for that day. I have broken it down to sections and times, so that throughout the day, I get all of my inspections done and I can check them off as I go so that I know they have been done."

Rachelle's Answer

You sound highly organized and aware of the depth of responsibility in your role. Well done!

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2.

What makes you passionate about inspecting buildings?

The interviewer wants to understand what factors drive you to take pride in your work. Building inspectors are incredibly essential professionals because their work keeps us safe and keeps residential and commercial builders accountable for their quality of work. Give the interviewer a genuine reason as to why you are in this line of work.

Rachelle's Answer #1

"I am passionate about being a building inspector because our work is incredibly important for the physical safety and the financial well-being of a potential home or commercial building buyer. I am proud that my work keeps others safe, and ensures structural integrity."

Rachelle's Answer #2

"After graduating high school, I took a year to travel to a variety of undeveloped countries. It shocked me to see what passed as safe living and work conditions. This experience is what sparked an interest in building safety. When I returned, I enrolled in engineering and architecture related coursework."

Anonymous Answer

"I am passionate about inspecting buildings to prevent people from being taken advantage of. I've always loved watching home improvement shows and became amazed at how some contractors cut corners and take advantage of people who have put their trust in them to do a professional and safe job. Families are living in these structures, and people work in the commercial buildings, worrying about whether or not their home or workplace is safe shouldn't be a concern."

Rachelle's Answer

You have an incredibly clear passion, and your reasons seem very genuine. This is a wonderful answer.

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3.

As a building inspector, clear communication is incredibly important. Would you say you are a better verbal or written communicator?

In which manner do you prefer to communicate - written or verbal? Discuss your preference with the interviewer and support your answer.

Rachelle's Answer #1

"I prefer verbal communication because I feel that with written communication, a lot can be misread due to lack of tone, fluctuation, expression and body language. I will always choose a face to face conversation whenever possible."

Rachelle's Answer #2

"I like to leverage both methods of communications when dealing with inspections. Sometimes, situations call for verbal communications and other times, written. As a rule of thumb, I tend to practice verbal communications, with written follow up or vice versa."

Anonymous Answer

"I am very strong in both. I like to email so that I can always look back to see what I have asked before, what the answer was, and if I need more clarification at this moment. As a verbal communicator, I am a good listener, and I try to see both sides of an issue."

Rachelle's Answer

You present strong pros for both types of communication. Nice, well-rounded answer.

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4.

Are you comfortable crawling into tight spaces?

Being in tight spaces is a standard requirement for building inspectors. Assure the interviewer that you are capable of performing tasks in small areas. Talk about your experience with this by expressing how many times you have been in small crawl spaces, or by highlighting your years of experience.

Rachelle's Answer #1

"I have been performing building inspections for three years now and can confidently say that I have been in small crawl spaces, hundreds of times. I am fine with situations like this."

Rachelle's Answer #2

"Although I am new to my career as a building inspector, I am confident that I can successfully work in small spaces. I have never experienced any claustrophobia."

Anonymous Answer

"Yes, I am very agile, and semi-regularly find myself in tight spaces for my line of work or my home improvements. As a city building inspector, most inspections are done in the order of construction that gives you visibility of the building components you inspect during that phase. I understand instances where the inspections are for the previous nonpermitted buildings to obtain an occupancy certificate."

Rachelle's Answer

Great! You sound confident in your abilities while bringing a solid amount of industry knowledge and understanding to your response.

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Anonymous Answer

"Part of my current job is going into confined spaces to inspect aggregate scales. Once I find the issue, I might even have to repair the problem myself in the same confined area. I have no issues with confined spaces."

Rachelle's Answer

You already have the experience, which is fantastic!

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5.

What are your weaknesses?

Pick weaknesses that are not a core skill for this position. You can be candid in your answer; recognizing that you aren't great at something and acknowledging your need to improve. Be sure to have an action plan in place for improving on this weakness.

Perhaps you are watching TED talks to gain skills in a particular area, reading the latest-and-greatest book on the subject, or maybe you are taking a seminar at a nearby community center. We are all human with our weaknesses, so don't be afraid to share yours!

Rachelle's Answer #1

"I believe I could improve on some technical skills including Excel and PowerPoint. Currently I am at a beginner to intermediate level; however, I would be more comfortable at an advanced level. I have enrolled myself in an evening/weekend workshop for the next six weeks. We will see how stellar my skills are of that course!"

Rachelle's Answer #2

"I tend to work too hard. I am always striving to be and do better that I forget sometimes it is best to embrace the chaos! Despite that, I make a point to have fun with it."

Anonymous Answer

"I tend to overwork some, and that might put off some people. I like to learn all I can about what I am doing so that I can do my best for you and me. I hyper-focus on new subjects and really get into the education, culture, and execution of said subject, and I can come off as a little intense, not rude, just serious."

Rachelle's Answer

It's okay to be focused and serious at times! Try to balance your answer by also mentioning what you do to lighten the mood when needed.

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6.

As a building inspector your will need to review and interpret plans, blueprints and site layouts. How strong are your skills in these areas?

The interviewer would like to understand better how you would rate your skill level. It's always a great idea to use words like beginner, intermediate, or advanced as these will give the interviewer a clear view of where your skill level is. You could also opt to rate your skill level from 1- 10.

Rachelle's Answer #1

"I have approximately eight years' experience interpreting plans, blueprints, and site layouts. I would consider myself advanced in these skills."

Rachelle's Answer #2

"Although I am newer to my career as a building inspector, I have had some exposure to blueprint reading and site layouts. I would say my skill level is a 6/10."

Anonymous Answer

"My skills are very strong in this area. I have been designing and developing construction documents for new homes and additions for 17 years. The skillset to develop a completed detailed set of construction documents (blueprints) directly relates to interpreting them."

Rachelle's Answer

Perfectly said! All of these skills are intertwined, and you have what it takes to meet these needs.

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Anonymous Answer

"I am new to this side of construction, and I have not had a lot of interaction with blueprints or site plans. One of the courses I will be taking is interpreting plans, and I intend to make it one of my strengths."

Rachelle's Answer

It sounds like this would be a helpful course, indeed! The interviewer should appreciate your eagerness to learn new skills and take on new challenges.

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7.

When have you been asked to perform an inspection related task in which you had little or no experience in doing?

Have you ever had to take on a task or a role that you felt was over your experience level? Talk to the interviewer about a time when you have dealt with this type of situation. What was the outcome, and what did you learn?

Rachelle's Answer #1

"When my manager went on unexpected medical leave for 3 months last year I was asked to step into her position in the interim. I knew the basics but was certainly not trained on the specifics of the role. I was able to take her tasks on successfully by leaning on my team, reading a lot of policy related manuals, and asking many questions. Once my manager returned she was very pleased with the progress that I made and I was awarded a promotion."

Rachelle's Answer #2

"Honestly, I have not had much experience with this. However, I am adaptable. I will use all available resources and research possibilities to find out what I need to do and how to do it."

Anonymous Answer

"As a residential designer, there are times that a faulty or failed existing condition will need remediation before a renovation can begin. Before the design goes to an outside source to be structurally engineered, I have had contractors inspect and analyze the defective condition. This is out of my scope of practice, so I explain that a structural engineer needs to make those determinations."

Rachelle's Answer

Referring to the appropriate party is a wise choice, and the interviewer should be happy to hear that you have no hesitation in doing so.

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Anonymous Answer

"Yes. Electrical installation/inspection is still a learning process for me. The electricians are spread thin at my current company, so any inspections fall upon the plant manager, me. When I come across something that I am unfamiliar with, I have made sure that I have the phone numbers of 2 of our electricians and my supervisor, who is very familiar with electrical and have them answer my questions and/or walk me through the process."

Rachelle's Answer

You sound very willing to jump in and learn new processes and skills.

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8.

Are you able to quickly calculate and convert mathematical problems and measurements?

As a building inspector, you will be required to make accurate calculations, and often on the spot. Talk to the interviewer about your mathematical skills. If you have taken any related education or training, this is a great time to discuss those. You can rate your abilities from 1-10 or tell the interviewer if you land in the beginner, intermediate, or advanced category.

Rachelle's Answer #1

"I have always been great with math and calculations. I have also taken a course in Real Estate Math for New Agents because I felt that training in real estate math would help me to advance my skills as a building inspector. At this point, I would place my math skills in the intermediate to advanced category."

Rachelle's Answer #2

"I am strong in most areas of math. This was a must-have skill while obtaining my Degree in Architecture. My greatest areas of specialty are Algebra, Geometry, and Trigonometry."

Anonymous Answer

"Yes, I can make acceptably accurate estimated calculations or rule of thumb calculations. If a spot-on calculation is required, I really on calculators, and a construction calculator is typically the best tool."

Rachelle's Answer

Very full answer with a lot of detail regarding the types of calculations you can confidently provide. Good work!

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Anonymous Answer

"Math is also one of my strengths. Geometry, Algebra, reading graphs and tables, and converting fractions all come relatively easy to me. Math is where a lot of people might have anxiety, but finding the answer to a problem, and getting the situation solved correctly is very satisfying."

Rachelle's Answer

Another very confident answer! You sound highly capable.

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9.

Why do you want to work for us as a building inspector?

Recruiters and hiring managers often receive hundreds of applications per job. If you are lucky enough to land an interview, make some effort and research the opportunity. Think about how this position will help you in your career. It's essential for you to know not only what you have to offer them, but what they can do for you.

While your passion and excitement for the job are essential, it's always good to have some hard facts to back it up. For instance, saying 'I have heard great things about your company, and I know I would be a great fit for this job,' is not very specific.

Rachelle's Answer #1

"I am excited about this opportunity because your values are very much in line with mine. I deeply care about giving back to the community. I also feel like this job will help me reach my goal of working in a management position, because of the leadership opportunities within this role."

Rachelle's Answer #2

"I recently completed my Diploma in Building Inspection Technology and am eager to gain a successful start in this career path. I like the technical aspect associated with this career path as well as the fact that I can utilize my skills in detail management and accurate documentation."

Anonymous Answer

"I have been in the construction industry now for 16+ years. I want to explore other aspects of the building industry, and I like to help people. I've read up on Orange Counties goals within the building inspection department, and they align with mine, and I would like to be apart of it. I have recently passed my ICC tests for Residential Structural, Mechanical, and Plumbing. I will be taking my Electrical test within the next two weeks, and I have already signed up for the Commercial (B2) test. This job will start me on a successful path to where I want to be in my career, and it will take advantage of my specific management skills and accurate record keeping."

Rachelle's Answer

You do a fantastic job qualifying yourself and showcasing your interest in the industry. Well done!

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10.

How do you go above and beyond a normal inspection?

The interviewer would like to know that you are the type to go above the call of duty, without being prompted by your manager or supervisor.

Rachelle's Answer #1

"I try to go above and beyond a normal inspection by double checking all of my work. Also, the better knowledge I have on building codes, the better I can explain them to the necessary parties. I will work overtime as well to ensure that an inspection is not rushed."

Rachelle's Answer #2

"Some ways that you can go above and beyond:

- Be extra thorough in your inspections and double check your work
- Have a full understanding of codes
- Study codes in your spare time"

Anonymous Answer

"By gaining trust and rapport with builders through constancy and fairness. Also, by presenting myself in a positive manner where the builder feels I want them to succeed while not compromising the integrity of the inspection."

Rachelle's Answer

Very well said! You mention some important factors regarding fairness and collaboration.

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Anonymous Answer

"I go into every situation prepared. Once I get my assignment, I research every aspect of that specific topic. I don't want to be surprised or seem like I don't know the subject. I want to make sure that the client has trust in me to do my job professionally and correctly. I double-check my work, ask questions where needed, and take any/all offered advice from co-workers with more experience."

Rachelle's Answer

You seem very well rounded and eager when it comes to delivering a job well done. This is a great response!

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11.

Tell me a few foundation problems you have witnessed.

The interviewer would like to know the extent to your experience by testing your knowledge on foundation problems. Briefly discuss your exposure to foundation related problems.

Rachelle's Answer #1

"The primary foundation problems that I have witness in my 5 year career as a building inspector would be improperly fitting doors and windows, warped ceilings, and buckling walls. I am confident in my ability to notice even the smallest indicators of foundation related issues."

Rachelle's Answer #2

"I have learned a bit about foundation problems in my architecture related coursework. I am familiar with some of the more obvious signs of foundation issues such as warping and ill-fitting windows. I do look forward to gaining more hands-on exposure in this area."

Anonymous Answer

"I am familiar with some of the basic foundation issues: warping walls, windows, or doors that are out of square or don't fit correctly: sloping floors and bad drainage. I've seen windows that have been cracked due to inadequate compaction and settling. Patios that are sloped toward the home and cause water to leak into the house. I know there are a lot more possible issues, and I look forward to learning them."

Rachelle's Answer

The detail you provide will be beneficial to the interviewer when they are determining if your experience will be a fit for the issues they manage regularly. Good work!

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12.

Inspectors must have an overall knowledge of construction. How would you rate your construction knowledge?

The interviewer would like to know that you have a sound knowledge base when it comes to construction. Highlight any construction related education, or on the job training that you may have.

Rachelle's Answer #1

"Although I do not have a formal degree in engineering or construction, I have taken many related courses on building codes and ordinances, electrical inspection, materials of construction and concrete principles of inspection. I am confident in my ability to understand advanced construction-related topics."

Rachelle's Answer #2

"My knowledge in construction is strong. I recently graduated with my Bachelor's Degree in Architecture where I learned a great deal about construction best practiced, building codes, and ordinances."

Anonymous Answer

"I have built two major home additions and several home renovations. This experience was essential for me to be successful in my residential design company. In my experience designing homes, I have become very knowledgeable about building codes and navigation through the codebooks for research. With my construction experience and my 15 years of design experience, I feel confident I possess the necessary skills to be a building inspector."

Rachelle's Answer

Your experience is vast, and you support your stance very well by providing confident statements, referring to your knowledge of building codes, and offering up examples of past projects. Nicely done.

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Anonymous Answer

"Between my 16 years in the industry and my recent ICC testing, I feel my construction knowledge is well rounded. There is always more to learn, and I am eagerly looking forward to my continuing education."

Rachelle's Answer

Leading with your years of experience, and your recent ICC testing is the perfect way to respond. This is very good!

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13.

Our inspectors often present their findings to realtors and home owners. Are you comfortable with that?

The interviewer would like to know that you can present your findings to the stakeholders involved in your projects and inspections. Talk about your previous experience in public speaking, and any training you have received in presenting to groups, large or small. You can even highlight your strengths when it comes to creating presentations in PowerPoint or any other program. Sound technical abilities are always a desired skill!

Rachelle's Answer #1

"I am very comfortable presenting to clients of all types. I have performed about 25 presentations this year, so far. Also, I am an advanced user in PowerPoint which means that I can create engaging visuals to compliment my presentations."

Rachelle's Answer #2

"I have presented a couple of times to my class during University. I am proficient in both Keynote and PowerPoint and look forward to expanding my presentation skills in this role."

Anonymous Answer

"I conduct quarterly meetings with 50+ people and also do one on one evaluations, so I'm very comfortable presenting to other people."

Rachelle's Answer

Awesome! You sound confident, and you support your response very nicely.

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14.

Have you performed both residential and commercial building inspections? Of the two, which do you prefer?

Make sure that you understand the requirements of this role when you answer this question! The last thing you want to do is pigeonhole yourself into one type of building inspection when the company primarily performs the other. Show the interviewer that you have an interest in both residential and commercial work unless otherwise stated in the job posting.

Rachelle's Answer #1

"I have performed work in both residential and commercial building inspections. I believe both options have their pro's and their con's. Commercial work can have more red tape and be more complicated, so I do enjoy that challenge; while residential work tends to have more unique challenges that test my knowledge."

Rachelle's Answer #2

"I have been trained in both residential and commercial building inspections. My internship was a commercial developer, so this is the area I am best versed in. With that said, I am eager to learn more about the residential side of inspection with your company."

Anonymous Answer

"I have inspected both commercial and residential buildings in my career other than a city building inspector that have overlapping skill sets. My experience at the moment leans heavier on residential, which I enjoy, and I am comfortable doing. My commitment will be to meet the city's expectation to reach the level of building inspector II where I would perform more complex inspections such as a commercial building."

Rachelle's Answer

Excellent response! You are confident in your experience while also showing a desire to grow, learn, and continually offer more to your employer.

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Anonymous Answer

"I will have passed all of my residential ICC tests by the first of the year. In the 16 years that I have been in the construction industry, I have watched many homes and commercial buildings being built. I am most familiar with the placement of concrete, but I am extremely eager to learn this new side of construction. I don't have a preference at this time. I'm just eager to learn more."

Rachelle's Answer

It's great that you are so eager to learn and open to new experiences. Your interviewer should appreciate this answer.

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15.

What type of survey instruments and test equipment have you used?

The interviewer would like to better understand the tools of the trade that you are comfortable using. This will help them to know the extent of training you will require, should they choose to hire you. Briefly list the tools and instruments that you are accustomed to using. You can also include the amount of years' experience you have with these particular tools.

Rachelle's Answer #1

"The tools that I have the most experience using would be a GFCI Tester to test ground-fault circuit interrupter outlet. Also, a Voltage Indicator to confirm if there’s any electrical current flowing through wires or devices. I also have exposure to the use of Infrared Thermometers, Moisture Meters, Combustible Gas Detectors, and Carbon Monoxide Analyzers."

Rachelle's Answer #2

"While completing my technical diploma in building inspection, I started building my toolkit in preparation for my first work experience. I have used, and can bring with me, a GFCI tester, a voltage indicator, and an infrared thermometer."

Anonymous Answer

"My survey tools are; tape measure, laser measuring device, angle finder, pitch finder, compass, bubble level, electronic level. Test equipment I have used; blower door tester, duct blast tester, refrigerant charge gauges, flow hood, volt/ohms/amp meter."

Rachelle's Answer

This is a robust list, indeed. Be sure to put a spotlight on any tools, equipment, or instruments that you know will be most present in each particular role you are discussing.

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Anonymous Answer

"I am proficient with a "wiggy" Volt/Amp/Current tester. I have seen a moisture probe used. Also, I can use a GFCI tester. I know there is a lot more to learn, and I am excited to use them."

Rachelle's Answer

You sound very willing to learn, while also inspiring confidence in the tools and experience that you do have.

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27 Building Inspector Interview Questions
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Interview Questions

  1. When have you taken an existing inspection process and used your own creativity to make it better?
  2. What makes you passionate about inspecting buildings?
  3. As a building inspector, clear communication is incredibly important. Would you say you are a better verbal or written communicator?
  4. Are you comfortable crawling into tight spaces?
  5. What are your weaknesses?
  6. As a building inspector your will need to review and interpret plans, blueprints and site layouts. How strong are your skills in these areas?
  7. When have you been asked to perform an inspection related task in which you had little or no experience in doing?
  8. Are you able to quickly calculate and convert mathematical problems and measurements?
  9. Why do you want to work for us as a building inspector?
  10. How do you go above and beyond a normal inspection?
  11. Tell me a few foundation problems you have witnessed.
  12. Inspectors must have an overall knowledge of construction. How would you rate your construction knowledge?
  13. Our inspectors often present their findings to realtors and home owners. Are you comfortable with that?
  14. Have you performed both residential and commercial building inspections? Of the two, which do you prefer?
  15. What type of survey instruments and test equipment have you used?
  16. What are your salary expectations?
  17. How can we motivate you on the job?
  18. How do you determine priorities when you have multiple projects due?
  19. Tell me about your relationship with your previous boss.
  20. What are your strengths?
  21. What are your career aspirations, in the inspection industry, beyond this job?
  22. With the ongoing changes in the construction industry, how do you keep your knowledge current?
  23. Tell me about an organization or group outside of work that you have contributed to.
  24. Have you ever been offered a bribe in order to pass a project?
  25. What is your educational background and how does it assist you in your career as a building inspector?
  26. Have you ever issued a violation notice or stop-work order?
  27. Some inspections require you to maintain daily logs. Are you a strong and dedicated documenter?
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