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If hiring electricians ranks as a top priority for 2021, join the club. Similar to other trades, electrician business owners and recruiters struggle to find skilled electrician job candidates in a highly competitive climate.
Working as a licensed electrician offers exciting job prospects for new techs, as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts more than 60,000 new electrician job openings by 2029—an 8-percent jump. Business owners need to fill jobs for electrical apprentices, journeyman electricians, master electricians, and other specialty electrician positions.
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Tommy Mello, host of the Home Service Expert podcast, says business owners in the trades need to make recruiting top talent a core business function from the get-go. “Some people say, ‘always be closing.’ I say, ‘always be recruiting,’” says Mello, who gives employees $1,500 for referring a new hire.
Recruiting plays a key role in filling the candidate pipeline, says ServiceTitan’s Vice President of Customer Experience Tom Howard, who believes contractors in the trades need to spend as much time recruiting and retaining employees as they do trying to sell services.
As the owner of multiple home services companies in Fresno, Calif., Howard says spreading the word about a company’s employee perks and culture is the single most important aspect for attracting new recruits. He regularly showcases happenings at his company on Facebook, and says his low-budget videos offer a huge return on investment.
“I had two top-level employees from another company say, ‘Look, I will take less money. I don’t care what it takes,’” Howard says.
Rather than spending tens of thousands of dollars on a college degree in a field with dwindling job prospects, consider that the average electrician makes more than $56,000 per year, or $27 per hour. Salaries can quickly grow into six figures with on-the-job experience.
At ServiceTitan, we want to help business owners hire the right electrician candidates to scale their organizations in 2021 and beyond. We compiled a list of 23 common interview questions for electricians, so you can hire the right employee for your team.
Use the following electrical technician interview questions and answers for experienced candidates to grow your business.
General Electrician Interview Questions
Why do you want to work in the electrical industry?
What do you know about our electrical company?
Why are you looking for a new job?
What previous experience and/or training makes you qualified for this particular electrician job?
Why did you leave your previous job, and why do you want to work with us?
Do you have a valid driver's license and clean driving record?
Can you email us a list of references?
Common electrician interview questions in the general category typically cover the soft skills needed for any trade, such as punctuality, communication, work ethic, and career goals.
It's also a good time to assess an applicant's attitude or personality to determine whether they're a good fit for your company. Remember, your new hire will represent your business in the field, so it’s important to ask the right questions and ensure the candidate fits your business and company culture.
Ask these basic electrician interview questions to assess a candidate's soft skills (and goal mindset):
1. Why do you want to work in the electrical industry?
Interviewers typically ask open-ended questions to gauge how a job candidate reacts and communicates when put on the spot. Look for a candidate who maintains good eye contact and displays confident body language. These skills offer a strong indication of their communication skills, and provide a glimpse of how the tech will engage with customers.
2. What do you know about our electrical company?
How did they hear about the position? Did they do their homework and research your company before applying? Hiring managers tend to consider applicants more seriously when they clearly demonstrate they've made an effort to learn more by scouring your company website, visiting social media sites, and talking to your current or past employees. It’s also a good indicator of the candidate’s interest in working for your business.
3. Why are you looking for a new job?
Make sure to ask about a new hire's motivations to determine whether their long-term career goals mesh with your company's core values. Why did they leave their last employer? Was it voluntary? Are they looking to make more money? Improve work-life-balance?
4. What previous experience and/or training makes you qualified for this particular electrician job?
This question often elicits a multi-layered answer with details about on-the-job experience, classroom training, electrician apprentice training, licensure, national certifications, etc. While applicants usually include this information on their resume and cover letter, you can uncover additional skill sets, such as specialty certifications or a knack for customer service.
5. Why did you leave your previous job, and why do you want to work with us?
Job applicants who were recently terminated or frequently hop from job to job should raise a red flag. Give the electrician job candidate the opportunity to articulate their reasons for leaving to determine whether the same issues could be problematic at your company.
Understand their motivations for wanting to work for your business, and then use their answers in the future to recruit top talent and build a strong pipeline of electrician candidates. You may even discover additional benefits or perks you can implement to retain existing employees and stand out from your competition.
6. Do you have a valid driver's license and clean driving record?
Your technicians who work on electrical equipment must drive to customers' homes in your company trucks, so a valid driver’s license is paramount. Most electrician apprentice programs and licensing agencies require electrician technicians to hold a valid driver's license and clean driving record.
7. Can you email us a list of references?
You can assess an applicant's written communication skills, as well as the ability to follow directions, by asking them to email a list of at least three references. You can also gauge their interest in the position by how quickly they email their references. Ask them to explain their relationship to the reference, how long they’ve known them, and provide current contact information for each.
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Behavioral/Situational Job Interview Questions
Describe a specific electrical job where you sacrificed safety for speed.
In previous electrical jobs, did you ever turn an unhappy customer into a satisfied customer?
A customer expresses anger or frustration over a bill. How do you respond?
What safety violations do you see most often, and how would you prevent them?
Here's a specific electrician job scenario. Explain your process for handling the call.
Behavioral or situational questions give applicants the opportunity for show-and-tell, with more emphasis placed on the "show" part of the equation. Interviewers need to assess an applicant's ability for problem-solving, following safety precautions, and their overall comfort with using technology on the job.
Today's electricians utilize technology on the job to streamline operational efficiency by deploying smartphones, mobile tablets, and electrician field service management software.
1. Describe a specific electrical job where you sacrificed safety for speed.
While posing this question might seem like a trick question—since electrical safety should never be compromised for speed—the types of responses you glean can be very telling. Not only can this question weed out electrician candidates who don’t hold safety in high regard, it provides a measure of their honesty and integrity.
2. Give an example where you turned an unhappy customer into a satisfied customer.
Electricians who emphasize customer service and support play an important role in creating customer satisfaction. Happy clients turn into repeat business, often via follow-up calls or word-of-mouth referrals. Techs who listen to customers and show empathy, clearly explain the process, and educate them on all available solutions provide better customer service.
3. A customer expresses anger or frustration over a bill. How do you respond?
How an applicant responds to this question reveals a lot about their personality, attitude, customer service style, and ability to work under pressure. The ideal candidate should take the time to clearly communicate all of the steps and associated costs involved with the service, but not throw your company under the bus. A negative customer experience will cost you money in lost business and unsatisfied customers.
4. What safety violations do you see most often, and how would you prevent them?
Safety plays a critical role in all electrical work, whether it means following proper safety protocols in a customer's home or business, or preventing injury while on the job. Assess an applicant's knowledge for electrical safety, then ask how the candidate would address common electrical safety violations on the job.
5. Here's a specific electrical job scenario. Explain your process for handling the call.
Electricians work with their hands and gain specialized training. Give them a specific electrical job task and ask them to explain their step-by-step process for diagnosing and fixing the problem. What questions do they ask the customer? What resources do they need? What safety measures do they take? Does the customer require a follow-up visit?
Remember, this is your opportunity to gauge how they would perform on the job—from start to finish—to get a clear understanding of their strengths, and potential flaws.
Technical Skills Questions to Ask Electricians
What are the differences between a fuse and circuit breaker?
Do you have any experience troubleshooting a PLC?
Do you have experience working with or servicing a transformer?
What’s your familiarity with PPE (personal protective equipment)?
How would you prevent over-lamping?
A hiring manager can assess an applicant's technical ability and know-how from educational degrees, certifications, past experience, and other electrician training listed on their resumes.
To get a good idea of an applicant's technical skill set, consider asking the following technical questions:
1. What are the differences between a fuse and circuit breaker?
An electrician candidate must understand the unique roles fuses and circuit breakers play in protecting electrical systems and preventing fires and shock. While both interrupt the flow of electricity, fuses melt when they detect too much heat, while circuit breakers trip when they detect unsafe surges of electricity.
2. Do you have any experience troubleshooting a PLC (programmable logic controller)?
PLCs translate user commands for electronically controlled machines. Common reasons why PLC control systems fail include module failure, loss of power, moisture, overheating, and bad network connections. A knowledge of PLCs is important for electricians working in commercial and industrial settings.
3. Do you have experience working with or servicing a transformer?
If your business serves factories or industrial settings, electrician candidates must have experience inspecting, troubleshooting, and repairing transformers. A transformer uses mutual induction to transfer electrical current from one circuit to another while maintaining a constant frequency.
4. What’s your familiarity with PPE (personal protective equipment)?
Electricians utilize a variety of PPE while working on electrical systems. From non-conductive protective helmets to flame-resistant clothing and insulating gloves, electrical contractors must ensure their technicians understand safety procedures and have convenient access to necessary PPE.
5. How would you prevent over-lamping?
Over-lamping occurs when you place a high-wattage light bulb in a lower-wattage fixture. It causes arcing and often starts fires. Electrician interview candidates must understand how to spot over-lamping while inspecting an electrical system or fixture, and offer solutions.
Technology and Tools Questions
How do you view mobile technology and its role in the future of the electrical industry?
What is your experience with using mobile technology on the job?
After diagnosing the problem, what tools have you used to explain options to a customer?
While interviewing electrician candidates, make sure to ask about previous, on-the-job experience with CRM technology and other tools. Today’s electricians utilize field service technology to increase efficiencies, enhance communication, and grow ticket sizes.
Use the opportunity to learn about the candidate’s experience, ask about specific tools and software, and understand their views on how technology enhances the workplace.
1. How do you view mobile technology and its role in the future of the electrical industry?
Electrical contractors increasingly rely on technology to streamline business operations and boost technician efficiency. How an applicant responds to this question tells you a lot about their knowledge of current technology and industry trends. If your business currently uses electrician software, asking about technological skills can help you determine whether the candidate is a good fit.
2. What is your experience with using mobile technology on the job?
This question helps you understand a candidate’s previous experience, as well as their level of comfort using technology on the job. It’s also a good indicator of the amount of training the candidate requires. Electrician technicians often provide estimates, communicate with dispatch, and collect payments from their mobile devices.
3. After diagnosing the problem, what tools have you used to explain options to a customer?
While in the field, electrician technicians need to clearly articulate the problem and all available solutions. Modern electrician software helps techs present varying levels of service, such as good-better-and-best, so customers can understand their options and make an informed decision. A lack of tangible experience shouldn’t automatically disqualify a candidate, it just means you’ll need to provide additional training.
You’ll likely realize new recruits not only have experience using technology, many want to work for a forward-thinking company. With ServiceTitan’s cloud-based CRM technology, electricians can present multiple service levels via a digital pricebook, quickly generate good-better-best invoices, accept payment from the field, and much more.
Payroll Questions to Ask in an Electrician Interview
What are your wage expectations?
Have you ever worked for a company that uses performance-based pay?
What are your expectations for bonuses or SPIFs?
Most applicants don't feel comfortable asking about pay upfront, but salary expectations matter a great deal when considering one job applicant over another. As a business owner, you need to be prepared to pay competitive salaries and offer enticing benefits to attract top job candidates and reduce costly turnover rates.
For example, if your company offers performance pay versus hourly rates, candidates need to understand how your commission and bonus structure impacts the position. If you expect electricians to sell more services on every call, be sure to make that clear.
Some simple payroll questions include:
What are your wage expectations?
Have you ever worked for a company that uses performance-based pay?
What are your expectations for bonuses or SPIFs?
In a highly competitive job market, it's important to separate the casual seekers from the serious electrician candidates. Asking the right questions from the get-go can help you identify new recruits worth investing your time and money in, who will stick around and grow, as you scale your electrical business. If you’re new to hiring electricians, consider hosting a mock interview with members of your team.
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