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PublishedDecember 8, 2023

Best Landscaping Interview Questions

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Landscaping businesses provide services from lawn mowing and mulching to lawn treatment and landscape design to maintain residential and commercial properties.

Landscapers need employees who can provide quality work and deliver top-notch customer service. However, vetting and hiring potential candidates can be challenging.

This article describes the best questions to ask during a job interview, with specific examples and sample answers to help you hire the right team members and grow your landscaping business.

Technical skills questions

When asking technical skill questions, you must evaluate job candidates’ existing training and knowledge to ensure they can perform the job effectively. The technical skill level varies based on the services you provide. 

Depending on your business, technical skills may include understanding how to weatherize a sprinkler system or safely apply lawn fertilizer.

1. Share a project where you had to balance aesthetics and functionality in hardscaping design. How did you achieve this balance?

Why you should ask this question: The question is important if your company performs hardscaping services. Adding hardscaping, such as a paver patio or flagstone walkway, is an expensive job that can’t be easily corrected if techs make mistakes during the installation. 

This question ensures the job candidate understands more than the physical labor but also the importance of incorporating design and aesthetics into outdoor spaces. 

Example of a good answer: “I was once hired to install a paver patio with a built-in fireplace. The homeowner asked me for advice on where to place the fire pit in the patio design. After considering several factors like the placement of patio furniture and grills, not to mention ensuring the homeowners could utilize the remaining space effectively, I settled on a location that the homeowner was pleased with.”

2. Have you ever had to troubleshoot and repair irrigation systems on the job? Describe your process in such situations.

Why you should ask this question: To troubleshoot a malfunctioning irrigation system, technicians need to assess the situation and identify the specific problem areas, such as: 

  • Clogged nozzles

  • Broken pipes

  • Malfunctioning valves

  • Issues with the controller

The initial assessment lays the groundwork for repairing the irrigation system. More importantly, it shows the job candidate understands how to approach a problem and use logic to identify a solution.

**Example of a good answer: “**To begin, I would ensure the irrigation system is connected to the water supply. Then, I would walk through the steps I learned in my training, such as conducting pressure tests, checking for leaks, and inspecting the system’s components.”

3. Share your experience selecting and planting native or drought-resistant plants to create sustainable landscapes.

Why you should ask this question: Successful landscaping requires planting the right plant in the right spot. Landscapers are frequently asked to pick the ideal plants for a customer’s property, so landscaping employees need to be able to choose plants based on climate and location, as well as species native to the area.

Example of a good answer: “When I’m asked to choose the right plants for a property, I typically consult the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map and also check with the local university extension to ensure plants are native to the area.”

4. Explain your approach to managing soil erosion and runoff issues on landscaping projects.

Why you should ask this question: Protecting waterways and preventing erosion are critical components of landscaping. Landscaping companies often apply fertilizers and pesticides that can harm the environment if they flow into rivers, lakes, and streams.

Example of a good answer: “I would first assess the property to identify areas prone to erosion and runoff. This includes analyzing the slope, soil type, vegetation cover, and existing drainage patterns. If necessary, I would suggest planting vegetation such as grass, shrubs, and trees to reduce soil erosion. I would only apply a chemical treatment if absolutely necessary, opting for natural remedies if possible.”

Experience and qualifications questions

The necessary amount of experience varies depending on the type of work your landscape business performs.

→ Landscape architects should have a bachelor’s degree versus,

→ Lawn care technicians may only need previous on-the-job experience

The following questions and answers will help you evaluate a job candidate’s experience.

5. In your landscaping career, what have you found to be the most significant challenges in project management, and how did you address them?

Why you should ask this question: Hiring managers often ask questions about solving problems to assess the candidate’s ability to use critical thinking skills to overcome obstacles. It also shows how candidates approach problem-solving and their ability to manage projects effectively.

Example of a good answer: “As a lawn crew manager, I’ve found it challenging to get all of my techs to accurately track their hours as they work on several properties on a given day. I implemented a process in our field management software that requires each tech to record their hours before moving on to the next job site.”

6. What certifications or training have you pursued to enhance your landscaping skills and knowledge?

Why you should ask this question: Depending on the type of work, new hires may need special certifications, especially if applying chemicals or driving heavy machinery like tractors. 

For training, pay attention to how they answer the questions, making sure to look for specific examples. 

Example of a good answer: “I received my Certified Fertilizer Applicator license in 2019, which allows me to transport and apply commercial-grade fertilizers. It also permits me to supervise lawn technicians who apply fertilizers.”

7. Have you ever had to coordinate subcontractors or collaborate with other trades on a project? How did you ensure seamless teamwork?

Why you should ask this question: This is an important question to ask if you’re hiring a project manager or other type of leadership position. Landscapers frequently hire and work with other trades for complicated and involved jobs. Qualified candidates should be able to explain their process clearly.

Example of a good answer: “I frequently coordinated subcontractors in my previous role. I found it most beneficial to hold a daily meeting each morning before anybody began work, where I’d talk about the work for the day and ask each subcontractor to provide an update and mention if they had any setbacks or blockers.

8. Can you share any experiences where you've managed budgets and resources effectively on landscaping projects?

Why you should ask this question: To turn a profit in the landscape industry, businesses need to ensure employees effectively manage resources and keep track of purchases so actual job costs don’t surpass estimates. 

Candidates should be able to clearly explain to potential employers how they successfully managed project budgets.

Example of a good answer: “Whenever I manage a project, I start by developing a detailed budget plan that outlines the estimated costs for materials, labor, equipment, and any additional expenses. I consider factors such as market prices, seasonal fluctuations, and any potential unforeseen costs to ensure a realistic and accurate budget allocation.”

Problem-solving and creativity questions

Employers ask these questions in job interviews to assess a candidate's ability to think critically, handle complex situations, and apply innovative solutions to landscaping challenges.

9. How do you integrate sustainable and environmentally friendly practices into your landscaping work?

Why you should ask this question: Homeowners increasingly prefer eco-friendly lawn care and landscaping services. Asking this question allows the candidate to demonstrate they understand the importance of providing environmentally friendly services and how to apply them in their daily work. 

Example of a good answer: “I always speak to the customer upfront to fully understand their preferences for eco-friendly services. Then, I explain the options, specifically mentioning how they address sustainability. After we agree on the approach, I’ll integrate these practices into the job.”

10. Describe a situation where you had to troubleshoot unexpected challenges during a landscaping project, such as a sudden equipment breakdown or weather-related issues.

Why you should ask this question: Successful landscapers must make snap decisions at a moment’s notice, often due to severe weather, broken mowers, and other unexpected problems. The wrong decision can lead to lost revenue and unhappy customers.

Example of a good answer: “I fully understand how faulty equipment can cause a project to come to a halt. In my previous job, there were instances where we had to stop for the day simply because our mowers would stop working. Over time, I learned how to troubleshoot common problems, such as a clogged carburetor or faulty spark plug. Now, when a mower fails, I perform a set of diagnostic tests and also carry spare parts in my van to ensure a speedy repair.”

11. Share a project where you introduced new, creative elements to the landscaping design to enhance its overall appeal.

Why you should ask this question: Customers frequently ask landscapers for suggestions to enhance the look and feel of their outdoor spaces. A technician or horticulturist with a creative vision and knack for unique ideas can help your company stand out from the competition. It also previews the candidate’s work ethic and ability to go above and beyond. 

Example of a good answer: “One of my regular customers came to me and said his yard looked drab and needed a makeover. He likes to cook, so I suggested we build a chef’s garden in this perfect spot right next to his front porch. I planted common kitchen staples like lettuce, beans, herb, and peppers. He later told me he loves how the garden refreshes the look of his yard, and he now picks fresh vegetables when he cooks.”

Client interaction and communication questions

To scale a landscaping business, you need happy, repeat customers. Asking candidates about experiences with customers helps to assess their interpersonal skills and their ability to convey information and resolve issues effectively. It can also help you weed out crew members with a bad attitude.

12. How do you gather feedback from clients, and how have you used this feedback to improve future projects?

Why you should ask this question: Feedback helps businesses understand if customers are happy with their services, identify areas for improvement, and decide which services to provide. Collecting regular feedback also helps companies to grow their reputations and acquire even more customers. 

Example of a good answer: “My previous employer used landscape business management software that automated review collection, which made it easy for the customer to leave a review. As the reviews climbed in Google, we started getting more business.”

13. Share a memorable experience of effectively managing a client's expectations during a landscaping project.

Why you should ask this question: Overpromising or embellishing what you can accomplish in a landscaping project will lead to unhappy customers and lost revenue. Setting clear expectations and providing regular communication helps the customer understand what to expect and minimizes surprises.

Example of a good answer: “No matter the job, I always speak to the customer before leaving for the day. I explain if the project is on schedule, mention any hiccups, and talk about what comes next. I’ve found this clears up any misunderstandings, and customers appreciate the updates.”

14. Can you share a specific example where you had to deliver difficult or disappointing news to a client regarding a landscaping project?

Why you should ask this question: Every landscaping business, at some point, ends up in a situation where they have to deliver bad news to the customer. It may be due to bad weather or a technician's mistake. The way you handle the problem and how you communicate the solution can make or break the experience.

Example of a good answer: “After we developed a design, selected materials, and discussed timelines for a patio installation job, the local utility regulatory commission assessed the area. Water lines went through the spot, and there was no way to install the patio safely. The customer was unhappy. After I explained the reasoning and how he could face a penalty, he understood and hired me for a different landscaping project.”

Interviewing landscaping job candidates: Best practices

Landscaping businesses need reliable, high-quality crew members. Asking the right questions and listening intently will help you hire candidates who fit your company’s culture and values.

Practice active listening

Active listening involves fully concentrating on, understanding, responding to, and remembering what a job candidate says. It promotes a comprehensive understanding of the candidate, promotes effective evaluation, and leads to a positive candidate experience.

Prepare thoroughly

Nothing sours an interview like an unprepared hiring manager. Even the most experienced candidate may choose a different employer if they feel like you seemed disengaged during the interview. 

Spend time learning about the candidate before the interview. Read their resume and take note of special skills or certifications. Greet them by name when they arrive, and maintain eye contact while you engage the job candidate.

​​Maintain assessment consistency

It’s important to evaluate job candidates consistently and fairly. Otherwise, it may appear as though you show favoritism to a candidate. Even worse, you may hire an inexperienced employee. 

Maintain objectivity by establishing guidelines on how to score candidate responses, standardize interview questions, and use a structured evaluation rubric.

Grow your landscaping business

A successful hiring process requires understanding the specific skills, experiences, and qualities that make an exceptional landscaping candidate. Targeted questions help hiring managers assess technical expertise, problem-solving abilities, creativity, and effective communication. This will help identify candidates who possess not only the necessary technical skills but also the right attitude.

Beyond hiring the right employees, business owners who use Aspire’s landscaping business management software to streamline their operations can supercharge marketing efforts, enhance communication, elevate the customer experience, and grow their businesses.

To see how Aspire can simplify business management and increase revenue, schedule a free demo today.

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