You will likely have a complete list of skills on your resume but this is a good time to highlight your strongest, most notable skills. Beware to not go off on a long list of items and lose the interviewer's attention.
"I have a wide range of skills in yard care and landscaping, however; my strongest skills are sod laying, mowing, trimming, planting, watering and fertilizing. I can also perform sprinkler installation."
If you have experience as a landscaper and have pruned shrubs and trees before you can show the hiring manager that you have strong knowledge by also adding in a fact or two about pruning.
"I have some solid experience in pruning. My most recent job required me to plant new trees and shrubs so pruning was not a requirement since the crown of a young tree should not be cut back."
You may or may not bring supplier-direct experience depending on the time you have spent working for private property owners. If you do have experience with this type of work you can say, "When I worked in private landscaping I did spend some time negotiating contracts with suppliers for large amounts of fertilizer and brick. I am very comfortable in that type of situation and stay up to date on going and competitive rates for landscaping materials." If you have not spent time negotiating a deal with a supplier you can answer, "I have not had the opportunity to lead a supplier negotiation, however; it's a challenge that I would be happy to take on. I am a strong negotiator in my personal life and am confident in my abilities to work out a strong price or contract."
"When I worked in private landscaping I did spend some time negotiating contracts with suppliers for large amounts of fertilizer and brick. I am very comfortable in that type of situation and stay up to date on going and competitive rates for landscaping materials."
This is a "tell me about a time" type of question. Be sure to tell your story clearly and do not go on and on. If the interviewer would like more detail, they will ask.
"tell me about a time"
If you have been in charge of hiring and terminating staff your answer should include an approximate amount of people you have hired, let go, and led at a time.
"In my previous 2 positions I was tasked with our seasonal hires which included approximately 40 interviews 25 hires and 20 exit interviews when the season was complete. I did need to terminate 5 employees during that season. In my grounds maintenance career, I have led teams of up to 30 people."
Most landscaping jobs require you to use mechanical tools and to have an understanding of the skills and safety required to properly use these. Your answer should include examples of tools that you have used in the past and, perhaps, an example of a job where you had to draw upon your mechanical skills and knowledge.
"I have strong mechanical skills. I was required to work on a large private landscaping gig that including the install of a ponds, deck, drainage system and retaining wall. During this job I used a wide variety of mechanical equipment including ABC, and XYZ."
It's okay to be honest with the interviewer, as long as you don't plan on leaving within a year! Ideally, not within two years. Express your passion for the facility you are interviewing for, also the passion you have for working with your hands and outdoors. Tell the interviewer this is an ideal job for you, and you don't plan on leaving in the foreseeable future. Here is an answer example: "I am happy to grow with your organization in a natural way. I am really happy in my career and love working in the outdoors. It's all I really need and I am ready to offer longevity to your company."
"I am happy to grow with your organization in a natural way. I am really happy in my career and love working in the outdoors. It's all I really need and I am ready to offer longevity to your company."
"In 5 years I would like to have worked my way into a managerial or supervisory role. Attending classes in the evenings and weekends to obtain my Red Seal certification in landscaping would be on my radar as well, if the opportunity was presented to me."
This is a good time to talk about the formal education that you bring to the job as well as any additional courses you may be interested in taking.
"I do believe I am qualified for this role. I currently hold my Landscapers Qualifications Certificate and plan to gain my Red Seal Certification over evening an weekend courses. I am always willing to attend additional training outside of work hours."
Think of a recent example of a time when you made a mistake at work. Did you own up to it? How did you fix it? What was your overall behaviour around the error? IE: "Last summer I was working for a private client and they requested some new trees be planted. I added too much mulch around them and ended up suffocating a few of the new trees. My client called me with their dissatisfaction and I immediately apologized for the error. I was able to resuscitate all but two, which I replaced using my own funds. It's a mistake I will never make again."
"Last summer I was working for a private client and they requested some new trees be planted. I added too much mulch around them and ended up suffocating a few of the new trees. My client called me with their dissatisfaction and I immediately apologized for the error. I was able to resuscitate all but two, which I replaced using my own funds. It's a mistake I will never make again."
Answer this question with some good examples of how you have motivated your previous employees or co-workers to bring their "A-game" every day.
When you answer this question be sure to include detail on your time with a skid steer.
"I have used a variety of landscaping equipment, including a skid steer. I have also used hand tools and a zero turn mower."
You should take some time to expand on your resume a bit, when answering this question. Allow the hiring manager to visualize the type of work that you have done.
"I have worked as a private landscaper, as a landscaper for the city and also at a golf course doing green management. Of the three I would say the most challenging was the position as a city landscaper. The range in work was vast and every day brought a new challenge."
If you have experience using a zero turn mower you can answer briefly and use an example of a time when you did use it. Perhaps even discuss one of the challenges of using this type of equipment.
"I use a zero turn mower every day in my current position. I really enjoy using this piece of equipment because it doubles my cutting speed. It took some time for me to be able to turn it around comfortably but now I'm a whiz on it!"
This answer should include a statement about your work ethic and also why you love to do what you do.
"From a very young age I have always displayed a very strong work ethic. I do so because people rely on me to show up and do what is asked of me. Personally, I am continually motivated by affirmation that my work is of high quality."
This question helps the interviewer get to know you a bit better. You should try to say something that is not on your resume, and make it interesting and tie it in with the job you are looking for.
"In my spare time I really enjoy reading books about gardening. I also spend time in the mountains on the weekends, going camping and biking. I am new to the city and am looking for a grounds maintenance position because I love being outdoors."
This is where it will be important to have done some research on the company prior to your interview. What values do they have that attract you? Perhaps they have a variety of clients that you are interested in working for. Be specific when answering this question and draw on your previous research.
"When I first read your job posting it attracted me because of the upbeat and fun environment you seem to enjoy. After going onto your website I saw that you have a great range of interesting clients such as XYZ Golf Course and ABC Regional Park. All of this seems very attractive to me."
Most job descriptions will describe a very lengthy list of skills the hiring manager hopes to attract. It is okay to not be a match 100% as some of these are not always a "must have." Be honest when you are answering this question.
This is the time to take a humble approach. As much as you would like to take on the world, be realistic when answering this question.
"Within the first few days, I would see myself learning from my supervisor and taking in any new information given to me. I'd like to take the time to get to know the operation, tools, and the team."
Do you prefer to work outdoors, or indoors? Independently or as part of a crew? You can mention some of your work preferences while also keeping in mind the type of environment that this potential employer is offering. Why do you want to work for them? Be sure to include that in your answer.
"My preferred work environment is an outdoor environment with a smaller grounds crew. I enjoy learning new skills and feel that there is more opportunity for that in a smaller crew environment. From what I understand, you run crews of 4-6 people which is exactly what I would be looking for."
If grounds maintenance is a career you would like to pursue for a long time, you could reply with: "I see my career being in this field and plan to stay long term. As you can see in my resume, I am not a job-hopper and am a loyal employee." If this position is a stepping stone and you want more you could reply with, "I love grounds maintenance and would eventually like to lead a team and end up in a managerial role. If that type of growth is something that I could experience with your company, I would be thrilled to stay very long term."
"I see my career being in this field and plan to stay long term. As you can see in my resume, I am not a job-hopper and am a loyal employee."
Having read the job posting and/or job description, this can be a simple question to answer. The essential skills will be listed there.
"From my understanding, you are looking for someone with strong communication skills who also brings experience in labour, outdoor landscaping, and a knowledge of horticulture. I possess all of these essential skills."
What steps do you take in a day to ensure that you are being efficient? When you answer this question be sure to use examples. IE: "I am very time efficient. Part of my efficiency includes taking care of my tools, putting them away appropriately, and in the correct place. This saves me the time of searching for a tool later in the day. Also, if I have multiple sites to visit I will map it out in my mind to minimize travel time."
"I am very time efficient. Part of my efficiency includes taking care of my tools, putting them away appropriately, and in the correct place. This saves me the time of searching for a tool later in the day. Also, if I have multiple sites to visit I will map it out in my mind to minimize travel time."
When answering this question you can talk about your communication style and also the type of communication that you prefer when dealing with a supervisor.
"I have always been told that my communication skills are strong. I try to communicate in a way that is simple and sincere. I like people, so that is easy for me. Clear and simple communication is the best way for me to be spoken to as well. I like to know what my responsibilities are for the day and go from there. If I have questions, I will certainly ask for clarification."
This is a great time to give an example of a time when you worked unsupervised and were commended with positive feedback.
"I work very well unsupervised. In my previous position I spent a lot of time working on my own with consistently strong feedback from my supervisor. I find it easy to stay focused on the task at hand when I work on my own."
If you do not have formal botany training then you should reply with a focus on you personal interest and research.
"The botany training that I have comes from on-the-job learning, and a lot of reading and research. I spend much of my time online as well as watching YouTube videos from expert botanists."
This is a good time to talk about your accountability to your job and what former supervisors have said about your level of reliability.
"I am a very reliable employee. Rarely am I late and I have not missed a day of work in my last position, unexcused. My previous supervisor would be able to provide you with a great reference as well."
Prior to your interview you should have an idea of a few stories that you can tell of when you overcame a challenge. In this case, you can take the interviewer step by step through the dilemma and how you found a solution.
"Last year I had a client with a very difficult lawn. There were a lot of thin patches and dead spots on their lawn. I started with a soil kit, and tested the alkaline level of the soil. The soil was slightly acidic so I raised the pH level by using a drop spreader. I also added pulverized lime to the lawn. It grew back very well and my client was happy with the result."
This is where you should let your unique skills shine! If you were the hiring manager, what would make you choose yourself for this job? What makes you unique?
"I believe you should hire me for this job because I have a true interest in botany and horticulture. I spend my spare time researching new plant species and bring a lot of knowledge to the job simply because of my sincere interest. This is a career that I see as a long term fit."
If you are currently working with another company be sure to remain positive and refrain from speaking negatively about them.
"My current company has been great and I have learned a lot from them but there is little opportunity to grow into a team lead role. I am ready to take on more responsibility which is why I am seeking a new position."
Before you answer this question be sure that you understand the difference between being laid off and being terminated. If you were terminated (fired) you need to own up to that and explain the situation. If you were laid off (perhaps your last position was seasonal) than you can talk about that further.
"My last position was seasonal and I understood that I would not have a job come winter. I had just relocated to the city and needed a new position. I am now seeking a permanent opportunity with a company that can offer me year-round work."
Are you able to take a stressful situation and turn it around? The hiring manager would like an example of a time when you remained positive and were able to troubleshoot yourself out of the situation. Your answer should include a recent example but remain brief. If the interviewer wants you to expand on that, then do so when asked.
"One recent, and quite stressful time, was during a park maintenance job. It was a new location for us and my colleague ended up being exposed to poison ivy. We were already on a tight deadline. I was able to quickly administer an anti-itch ointment and take him back to his personal vehicle so that he could go to the doctor to be assessed. After that, I continued on the day by myself. I worked overtime that day to ensure my jobs were complete."
When asked this question, most everyone will say 'yes' so be sure to give an example to qualify your statement.
"Yes, I am a very detail oriented person. You really do need to pay attention to detail in this line of work. My previous co-workers and supervisors have often commented on my ability to recognize any missed detail."
This question will help the interviewer determine whether you are accustomed to making you own decisions in regards to prioritizing your day, or if you will need a supervisor to tell you what to do in a day. You should answer with an example of times that you have been given the ability to create your own schedule.
"In my current position, I work for a private estate. My employer allows me to create my own schedule of tasks every Friday for the upcoming week. I then submit the task list and schedule to him. He will make minor edits if necessary. It's really important in this position to prioritize as there are so many things to do."
Grounds maintenance workers are dedicated to cleaning and maintaining the grounds of homes, business complexes, and parks. They spend a major portion of their work day mowing, watering, and fertilizing lawns, trimming hedges and shrubs, weeding and mulching landscape beds, and removing damaged, unwanted or dead plants and trees. They generally work under the supervision of a professional grounds manager.
Smaller companies may not require applicants to have any formal education but more established landscaping organizations may require all candidates to have certification or formal education in horticulture, landscape design, arboriculture or a similar field. This is a physically demanding job as it involves hours of mowing, weeding, and other strenuous work outdoors. Grounds maintenance workers must have the stamina to be able to handle the job. In addition, they must also be familiar with using a variety of garden tools. Working as an apprentice will help you learn the responsibilities of a grounds maintenance worker and boost your employment opportunities.
At the interview, you must convince the interviewing panel that you are familiar with mowing, weeding, watering, and all other tasks that a grounds maintenance worker is expected to do. Be prepared to answer questions related to your career goals, as well as your skills and special interests this field. At mock questions, you will find several very useful questions that are usually asked at interviews for grounds maintenance workers.