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.
Grounds Maintenance Worker Interview Questions
How do you get the best out of your employees or coworkers?
When have you negotiated a contract or a deal with a supplier?
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."
Why are you seeking new employment?
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."
Do you have any mechanical skills?
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."
What experience do you have pruning shrubs and trees?
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."
Why did you leave your former job?
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."
What do you see yourself doing within the first days of this job?
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."
How long do you see yourself working for us?
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."
Why do you want to work for us?
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."
On a fertilizer bag, what does the three numbers stand for? Example: 20-20-20.
Fertilizer knowledge is an important skill to have when it comes to being a grounds maintenance worker. If you do not understand the 3 numbers, do some research. Your answer should be brief and to the point.
"The 3 numbers on a fertilizer bag refer to the amount of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium present; always in that order. As a general rule, when the numbers are equal to each other, this means the fertilizer is good for general use."
What motivates you to work hard?
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."
You may be in charge of hiring and firing of staff, what type of leadership experience do you have with that?
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."
Tell me a little about yourself.
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."
Do you have any experience using a zero turn mower?
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!"
If you were hired for our beginning grounds crew position, where do you see yourself within our organization in five years?
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."
What various skills do you have in yard care, landscaping, etc?
Describe what interests you about yard care, and maintaining the property?
As you walked into our facility today, what did you notice about our property?
When is a proper time to apply fertilizer to the yard? What would you recommend for our grounds, without serious evaluation?
When have you ran into an issue with a supplier? What was the issue, and how did you resolve it?
When have you misunderstood instructions at your last job? What was the consequences and how did you overcome that?
Do you believe you are qualified for this role? Do you have proper licenses for this job? If not, are you willing to attend training courses after work hours?
Have you operated any landscaping equipment, such as a skid steer?
What landscaping experience do you have?
How are your communication skills?
What part of this job description do you see a potential problem with?
What type of work environment do you prefer?
What skills are essential for this job?
Are you efficient with your time?
Do you work well unsupervised?
Describe a time you were faced with stresses which tested your skills.
Why should we hire you?
Are you a detail oriented person?
How often did you miss work at your last job?
When have you had difficulties creating a full lawn? How did you solve the problem?
What type of botany training do you have?
When was the ability to prioritize tasks, important in your last position? Give me an example.