At Nuss Construction Co., in Marlton, N.J., carpenter and lead carpenter candidates take this test because, as president Tammy Herbert points out, “Anyone can interview ... and say they can do this, but how do you know their skill level?”
Former production manager David Taylor, who is now a salesperson for the company, put together the test about five years ago, when Nuss Construction wasn’t busy enough to subcontract a lot of specialty trades. The company needed in-house carpenters possessing a wide range of skills.
Today Nuss carpenters and lead carpenters complete the work from demolition to paint on about 60% of projects, most of which are bathrooms and smaller jobs.
In addition to the carpenter test, candidates are asked to rate their expertise on a scale of 1 to 5 on a list of skills including drywall, tile, roofing, and painting.
A: Application Process
Nuss Construction asks job applicants to set aside two hours — that includes the test, which takes candidates about an hour, and the interview.
B: Results Review
The production manager doesn’t actually score the test but reviews it to indicate the candidate’s knowledge level. “It’s not always a black-and-white answer,” company president Tammy Herbert points out.
If the candidate answers “yes” to this question, Nuss Construction’s production manager takes some recent project plans and asks candidates to prepare an estimate based on those floor plans.
D: Common Knowledge
This set of questions helps Nuss Construction figure out if the candidate knows local codes and industry standards. These questions should be easy for someone who has experience working in the remodeling industry, but they can weed out someone who has been working in one specific trade for the last few years and doesn’t have the “all-encompassing” skills that Nuss requires.
E: Material Take-Off
The last question asks candidates to do a material take-off for a more involved project. “It helps you weed out people who have never worked with a set of architectural blueprints,” Herbert says. A carpenter may be skilled, but if he can’t plan ahead, he will end up making multiple time-wasting trips to the store.
See the answer key for this test.
—Nina Patel is a senior editor at REMODELING. Find her on Twitter at @SilverNina or @RemodelingMag.
More REMODELING articles about hiring field staff:
Test for Success — Developing your own pre-employment evaluation system
Hire Calling — Crowd-sourcing hiring tips from social media
Bill by Skill — Paying field crews a higher rate for the hours when they use specialty skills