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HVAC Supervisor Interview Questions: What to Ask to Make the Best Hire

User IconJoanne Bratton
Clock IconAugust 30th, 2021
Glasses Icon12 Min Read
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As the HVAC industry faces workforce shortages and increased demand for HVAC services, hiring the best top-level employees sets the stage for your company's success.

HVAC supervisors play a key role in project management, overseeing technicians to ensure projects are completed on time and on budget. To succeed in a competitive environment, service companies looking to fill HVAC supervisor jobs must focus on both promoting leaders and recruiting new candidates who excel in problem-solving, high performance, and customer satisfaction.

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While identifying the right supervisors may not be easy—more than 60% of HVAC companies report difficulty in finding qualified applicants—asking the right interview questions is an important first step. 

Follow this guide to ask the right HVAC supervisor interview questions to narrow your list of qualified job seekers. Common HVAC technician interview questions and answers typically fall into the following five categories:

  • General interview questions

  • Behavioral interview questions

  • Technical knowledge interview questions

  • Technology interview questions

  • Payroll interview questions

What is an HVAC supervisor job description?

The best HVAC supervisors display broad knowledge in the HVAC field, supervisory experience, problem-solving skills, attention to detail, and demonstrate how they provide a high level of customer service. 

An HVAC supervisor job can include titles of foreman, service manager, operations manager, or lead installer for companies that provide residential or commercial repair, maintenance, or installation of air conditioning, heating, or refrigeration. 

Technical skills vary depending on the position, but most online supervisor or technician job postings require previous work experience. Other requirements include degrees, specialty training, proper HVAC licenses, and EPA certification.

General interview questions

1. Why do you work in HVAC?

2. Why do you want to work for our HVAC company?

3. What are your career goals?

4. What is your supervisory experience?

5. How would your references describe you?

HVAC job interview questions allow employers to discover applicants' backgrounds, including their goals and how they approach challenges on the job. The right questions can reveal an interviewee's character and attitudes.

HVAC companies should formulate an interview process to find the best supervisor candidates. Managers at McWilliams & Son Heating and Air Conditioning in Texas follow a layered hiring process to ensure new hires are placed in the right role.

“Interviews are always going to be with two different teams,” says CFO Brad Pesek, who shared tips on a recent episode of ServiceTitan's “Toolbox for the Trades” podcast. “Four people will have had a ‘touch’ on them before we consider hiring them.”

1. Why do you work in HVAC?

Hiring managers who ask HVAC professionals why they work in HVAC hit on the classic "Tell me about yourself” question. This gives candidates an opportunity to share why they have a passion for HVAC work, their supervisory or training skills, and how they want to continue their knowledge in the field. 

This is the time to ask about a candidate's HVAC training, skill set, previous employers, licenses, and certifications. You may want to ask if their current employer knows they're applying for the job.

2. Why do you want to work for our company?

Discover if HVAC supervisor candidates have knowledge of your company and its core values. Candidates who perform research on your company website ahead of time show they know how to prepare and can express how their values align with your company’s mission.

Ask about their expectations for the supervisory job. What are their work schedule expectations? Are they willing to work long hours during peak season? How do they rate their sales skills? Communicating from the start sets the right expectations for future success.

3. What are your career goals?

Asking about an applicant’s goals gives you a better understanding of what drives them and what they aim to accomplish. Do they want to simply earn more money than their previous job, or are they interested in a long-term career path? Depending on what your company can offer, either one may be a great fit.

4. What is your supervisory experience?

An HVAC supervisor must excel in leadership skills as they delegate work and oversee employees. Good leaders clearly define expectations and give employees tools to succeed, but allow them space to perform. Ask about examples relating to their management style, how they drive teamwork, and how they resolve conflict. After all, it takes a team to complete a job safely, efficiently, and in a way that increases customer satisfaction.

5. How would your references describe you?

HVAC supervisor candidates should know their strengths and areas where they need to grow. Get a list of references so you can learn how applicants performed at previous jobs, including information about their personality, management style, interactions with co-workers, and how they addressed challenging HVAC projects. 

Behavioral interview questions

1. How does your oversight prevent mistakes on projects?

2. Have you ever mentored or provided on-the-job training?

3. How do you handle interactions with an unhappy customer?

4. Here's a specific HVAC service call scenario. How would you resolve this?

While HVAC supervisors need a certain skill set to perform their job well, it's also important they have an attitude that fits with your company's values.

Even answers to seemingly generic questions can indicate the attitudes of your applicants, giving insight into how they view their work, approach problems, and interact with others.

Angie Snow, Vice President of Western Heating & Air in Utah, always asks one question to ascertain attitudes of candidates: “How’s your day going so far?” 

She calls a simple question like that "experiential queries" to see how candidates answer questions. Their values shine through in their answers and the way they answer, says Snow, who also serves as Director of Customer & Product Training at ServiceTitan, and Success Coach at GoTime Success Group and Snow Business Coaching.

1. How does your oversight prevent mistakes on projects?

An HVAC supervisor candidate can show how they proactively minimize mistakes with oversight, communication, and a strong accountability process. Ask about what checks and balances they use to ensure technicians follow proper work processes and safety measures. Determine how they detect mistakes, and what steps they take when mistakes do occur.

2. Have you ever mentored or provided on-the-job training?

In many instances, training is key for employee and company success. Discover if the candidate's experience includes mentoring or technician training. While most technicians possess technical skills, training allows them to learn additional skills or get up to speed on company processes and regulations. Another good reason? Training on the job allows you to build your own team from the ground up.

3. How do you handle interactions with an unhappy customer?

Asking about a difficult customer service experience shows the candidate's overall attitude about customers, as well as what steps they take to provide a positive customer experience. Whether it's a miscommunication over pricing or compounding issues to an HVAC system problem, clear communication and the right attitude is of utmost importance.

4. Here's a specific HVAC scenario. How would you resolve this?

Asking a question about an unknown job scenario gives supervisor applicants the opportunity to demonstrate quick thinking and problem-solving skills. Their answers will indicate their critical thinking and breadth of knowledge.

Proper and efficient HVAC operations are essential to the safety and efficiency of buildings. Understanding building code requirements, solving complex problems, and  effectively managing a team requires knowledge, problem-solving skills, and excellent communication. 

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Technical knowledge interview questions

1. What was your most challenging project, and what did you learn from it?

2. What safety precautions do you take during HVAC projects?

3. What do the acronyms BTU and AHU mean?

4. How do you calculate heating and cooling loads?

5. What's your experience with sustainable HVAC solutions?

HVAC companies seek supervisor candidates with a high level of technical knowledge, whether it's installing heating and air conditioning systems, understanding components of air handling units, or installing refrigeration equipment and recovering refrigerants.

They need skills to solve issues, from minor to wide-scale, safely and efficiently. Asking questions with technical aptitude in mind narrows your list of eligible candidates. 

1. What was your most challenging project, and what did you learn from it?

Ask about an example of a time they faced a challenging project to determine their level of expertise and the processes used to uncover solutions.

Supervisors must possess a high level of knowledge and technical skill. If confronted with an exceptionally complicated HVAC problem, they need to know when to reach out to other HVAC professionals for a solution. The ability to understand complex processes and learn from challenges is vital and determines the success of a project.

2. What safety precautions do you take during HVAC projects?

HVAC companies should prioritize HVAC safety among employees, so asking about often-used procedures ensures safety for themselves and those around them. An HVAC supervisor should possess familiarity with personal protective equipment and make sure the HVAC team follows key protocols. Your company should demonstrate the importance of safety by offering training in key areas, even after hiring.

3. What do acronyms BTU and AHU mean?

HVAC supervisors should possess thorough understanding of acronyms like BTU and AHU, among many others used in the industry. Even more important, supervisors and technicians must grasp the science and math behind the terms.

4. How do you calculate heating and cooling loads?

Sizing HVAC units by heating and cooling loads involves complicated calculations, but it also requires following the proper methods. Asking whether the candidate understands the Manual J residential calculation shows what they know about the procedure, designed by the Air Conditioning Contractors of America. 

5. What's your experience with sustainable HVAC solutions?

Modern customers want sustainable solutions that deliver benefits to the environment and their wallet. If your company provides services such as geothermal, solar power, or hydronics, ask about the candidate's knowledge of those systems, so you can continue to provide eco-friendly solutions to your customers.

Technology interview questions

1. How do you view mobile software in the HVAC industry?

2. What is your experience with using mobile technology on the job?

3. What tools do you use to explain problems and solutions to a customer?

Ask technology-related questions to see how much the candidate knows about HVAC trends and cloud-based software, such as ServiceTitan HVAC Software—used to streamline operations, enhance communication, and expand ticket sizes. Even if they don't possess much past experience, a candidate's answer can help you determine if they see the value technology offers the HVAC industry, and their willingness to utilize it in day-to-day operations.

1. How do you view mobile software in the HVAC industry?

Field reporting software benefits the HVAC team by showing real-time updates of generated revenue and tech performance. Supervisors and project managers profit by using HVAC job costing software to accurately track project costs, integrating financial data from sold estimates, job invoices, purchase orders, payroll, and accounts receivable. These tools allow your HVAC employees to perform better as a team and complete projects more efficiently.

2. What is your experience with using mobile technology on the job?

Mobile technology allows an HVAC supervisor to easily view schedules, materials and labor costs, and other critical job information from anywhere. On the customer service side, mobile software allows techs access to customer information collected by the customer service representative, including past job history and invoices. A seamless customer experience results in more return customers, and increased word-of-mouth referrals.

3. What tools do you use to explain a problem and solutions to a customer?

An HVAC supervisor may be the one to explain problems and solutions to customers, especially when it comes to big-ticket proposals. When supervisors and techs confidently use HVAC software to present good-better-and-best proposals, it gives customers a clear picture of their options and benefits of each one. By giving customers options instead of awkward sales pitches, customers can choose the option that's best for them—and may decide the "best" proposal saves them more money in the long run. 

Payroll interview questions

1. What are your salary expectations?

2. Have you ever worked for a company that uses performance-based pay?

3. What do you expect in terms of bonuses or sales program incentive funds (SPIFs)?

Online job postings show a demand for HVAC supervisor jobs, from 3,900 jobs to 130,000 jobs, depending on the online job search website and specific job title. Nationally, heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanic and installer jobs are forecast to rise by 15,000, or 4%, by 2029, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). 

The HVAC industry remains competitive as the job-skills gap widens, due to more workers retiring than entering the field, according to an organization seeking to close the skills gap. Put your company at the top of a candidate's list by offering competitive wages and benefits, as well as a positive company culture.

1. What are your salary expectations?

An HVAC supervisor salary can range from $44,000 to $111,000 annually, with a national average of $70,255, according to Glassdoor.

Pay varies depending on a candidate's experience, duties, and geographic location. Find out the salary range for your state and offer appealing benefits to attract the best job candidates, and reduce turnover rates.

2. Have you ever worked for a company that uses performance-based pay?

If your HVAC company offers performance pay versus hourly rates, candidates need to understand your company's pay structure and how commission and bonuses affect the position. Using contractor timesheet software provides real-time timesheet tracking and customizable performance pay, so you can tailor your pay structures to obtain the best results.

3. What do you expect in terms of bonuses or sales program incentive funds (SPIFs)?

Ask about expectations for bonuses or other incentives. Communicate how your company values employee performance and demonstrate how top performance corresponds to increased pay.

Although it's not the only way to motivate, offering incentives makes the job more attractive to potential hires. Ask these and other questions so you can determine which candidates best fit with your company, maximizing overall growth and success.

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