The demand for electricians is increasing, and many employers have found themselves in search of new hires. If you landed here, you’re probably in a similar situation. While growing your business is an exciting prospect, it can also be nerve wracking. That’s why we’ve put together this list of electrical interview questions that will ensure you hire the right person for the job!
It’s important that you feel confident in your employees. After all, they are the faces that will represent your company. Therefore, when going through the hiring process, it’s essential to take the time to learn about candidates and evaluate if they’re the right fit.
An interview is not something that should be rushed. So when asking these electrical interview questions, stay focused on having a real conversation with the applicant. The more you can discover about them, the easier it will be to hire the best person for the job.
1. Hard skill electrical interview questions
While some things can be taught, it is important that candidates have a certain amount of knowledge and ability. After all, you want to bring on members to your team that can contribute and take on work independently.
These types of electrical interview questions focus on specific skills that the candidate possesses. Typically, this knowledge comes from an earned degree, certification, or prior experience.
What are the different types of cables used in transmissions?
Why it matters: Does the applicant have the foundations down? If there is hesitation or long pauses in their answer, this may be cause for concern. An experienced electrician should be able to answer this question easily.
What do the different colors on wires indicate?
Why it matters: Again, this question will test the candidate’s knowledge. Electrical work can be dangerous, so you want to ensure they’re confident and clear on the basics. If they’re confused between a black wire and a white and gray wire, for example, you’ll want to find out now and not when they’re in the field.
What kind of personal protective equipment do you bring to every job?
Why it matters: The safety of your employees, customers, and those around them should always come first. Therefore, it’s important that the candidate demonstrates they take this seriously. If they say they don’t bother with protective gear for most jobs–that’s a red flag.
Can you talk me through how you approach a [role specific] job step by step?
Why it matters: This electrical interview question will not only give you insight into their qualifications, but also how they perform their work. This is important because if they rush through their explanation, that is most likely how they’ll approach work in the field. On the other hand, if they explain each step in detail, you can feel confident they’re thorough and precise on the job.
What do you believe are some essential technical skills and responsibilities of an electrician?
Why it matters: Asking a candidate this enables them to demonstrate their understanding of being an electrician as well as showcasing their own abilities. If they struggle to answer this question, it might mean they don’t have the skills for the role.
2. Soft skill electrical interview questions
Unlike hard skills which are role specific, these questions are much more universal. Asking them will allow you to understand how the applicant works in a team, problem solves, leads others, and even their work ethic.
At the end of the day, a tech might be experienced and accomplished, but if they don’t take things like punctuality or good manners seriously, they might not be worth the trouble.
How would you explain a complex problem that has happened on a job to a customer?
Why it matters: Communication is key, especially in a customer facing role. While the candidate most likely can explain the complex problem, can they explain it in a way that will make sense to (and satisfy) the customer? If the applicant can approach it calmly, explain it clearly, and show patience and understanding, they’ll be a major asset for your company.
Have you ever recognized that there was a better way to do something, and took the initiative to improve the process?
Why it matters: This electrical interview question is meant to gauge an applicant’s leadership skills. If it’s evident to them that something is not as it should be, will they step up and take the lead to fix it? How will they communicate their choice? After all, you want employees who are proactive and engineering, but who are responsible enough to check/inform their teammates and managers of their decisions.
Has there ever been a time you were asked to do a task you weren’t familiar with? How did it go?
Why it matters: It’s important that your electricians can problem solve and face a challenge without hesitation. Things aren’t always going to go as planned in the field, so they need to be adaptable. If they can’t tell you a time they took on a challenge like this, it may be a red flag.
When working on a project, how do you adapt to the changes that will inevitably occur? Like alterations to the timeframe or having to make last minute changes?
Why it matters: Flexibility and openness to change is an important trait for all employees to have. When working on large projects there are a myriad of variables–and it’s inevitable that some change will occur. You want to ensure you have a team that adapts with ease, not employees who are easily frustrated by the unpredictable.
What do you consider to be a job well done?
Why it matters: Everyone wants to do a good job, but that can mean a lot of different things to different people. This question gives insight into their work ethic, and ensures you and the applicant are on the same page about quality of work and what the expectations are for the position. This is where you should pay attention to their attitude towards customers and service, as well as technical details.
Speaking of customers, make sure you’re always putting your best foot forward with our Customer Communication Toolkit!
3. General electrical interview questions
You can learn a lot about a candidate by asking them about their skills, but there are other important things to take into consideration as well. For example, you’ll want to ensure they have a clean record and that their salary expectations match your budget.
A “no” to one of these can be a deal breaker. That’s why it’s best to ask these general electrical interview questions before sending an offer letter to a candidate who ultimately won’t be a match long term.
Do you have a valid driver’s license and clean driving record?
Why it matters: If the applicant can’t drive or has too many accidents on their record, things may not pan out in the long run. After all, you don’t want to risk your vehicles or drive up your insurance costs. It would be frustrating to learn this detail only after a job offer has been made, so be sure to ask this question early on in the process.
What are your wage expectations for this role?
Why it matters: Some hiring managers shy away from asking this because, frankly, they don’t want to hear the answer. However, there is no point in spending more time interviewing a candidate whose salary expectations don’t align with your budget for the role. We’d go as far as recommending including the salary bracket in the job listing to avoid wasting both your time and other people’s.
What kind of electrician software are you familiar with?
Why it matters: While this shouldn’t be a make-or-break question, it is an important one. If the candidate is familiar with the electrician software your team is already using, that’s amazing! It means they’ll require less training and be able to hit the ground running.
Tell me about yourself.
Why it matters: A resume isn’t always the most dynamic, so give candidates the opportunity to put it in their own words! They should walk you through their experience and why they’re interested in electrical work. However, this question also enables them to open up and share more about who they are as a person.
Do you have any questions I can answer?
Why it matters: An interview is a conversation. The applicant should be equally curious about you as you are about them–and if they’re not, it might not be the best fit. They should be genuinely inquisitive about the business, and hopefully come with questions prepared in advance.
4. Behavioral electrical interview questions
Behavioral questions are focused on asking an applicant about their past experiences. It’s a great way to learn about how they approach their work and the traits that make them successful in a role.
Describe a time you needed information from someone who wasn’t very responsive. How did you handle the situation?
Why it matters: This question will give you insight into their communication and problem solving skills. Not only is it important for an employee to be able to communicate and work well with others internally, but they also have to maintain good client relationships externally.
Have you ever made a mistake on the job? If yes, how did you handle it?
Why it matters: Everyone needs to be able to own up to their mistakes! It’s important for the candidate to take accountability, but to also show that they were able to learn and grow from the error. If they can’t do either of these, it should be a red flag in the interview.
What was your least favorite task to perform on a job?
Why it matters: This is a twist on the classic, “What’s your biggest weakness?” Most likely, if it’s their least favorite task, it means they dislike it because they’re not the best at it. Look for candidates who turn negatives into positives–it may be their least favorite task, but are they working towards getting better at it?
How would you handle a situation when you’re working in a team and your partner disagrees with your solution?
Why it matters: It’s important that your new employee is a team player, because more often than not, they’ll be working as part of a team. This question evaluates if they can take feedback from a teammate, or whether you’ll find yourself having to micromanage every small disagreement. If they become defensive and say they’re always right, it should be a red flag.
Was there ever a time you didn’t meet a customer’s expectations? What was your approach and what was the outcome?
Why it matters: Being an electrician means working with customers daily, and it’s inevitable one of their jobs didn’t meet expectations. It doesn’t have to be technical either; it could simply be they arrived late and kept the customer waiting. What matters is not their shortcomings, but how they communicate their failure–especially when it’s not necessarily their fault–and translate it to a success.
While you’re evaluating candidate’s communication skills, make sure yours are top notch too! Email like a pro with the 10 free templates above!
5. Company culture questions
You want to make sure your new employee will positively contribute to your team and work environment. Company culture questions are meant to help you identify candidates who align with your business’ values and beliefs.
What would be your ideal company culture?
Why it matters: Sometimes, being direct is best. So if you want to know what the candidate values most, ask them! Is it being a part of a tight knit team? Or maybe work/life balance is at the top of their list. Either way, be open and honest in your response to their answer. If you don’t check one of their boxes that’s okay, explain what you do offer and how it’s made an impact.
What are your interests and hobbies?
Why it matters: This is a great way to see if candidates share common interests with your team. For example, maybe they love cooking, and your company recently had a baking competition. And if their hobbies are completely different–that’s great too! It means they can bring something new and interesting to the table.
What type of work environment do you prefer?
Why it matters: This electrical interview question serves both a cultural and practical purpose. If the applicant says they prefer to work remotely five days a week–and you’re hiring for a technician role–this might be a deal breaker. Again, it is important to set and define expectations early on to ensure everyone is on the same page.
What made you interested in working for our company?
Why it matters: You want to ensure candidates are serious about the opportunity, and this is a great way to find out. You most likely have your company history and values on your website–did they do their research? If their answer seems completely off base, they most likely didn’t invest the time into learning about the business, which can be a red flag.
What are you looking for in your new job?
Why it matters: Maybe we sound like a broken record, but one of the best ways to hire the right employee is by ensuring you’re both aligned throughout the hiring process. Make sure you can actually provide what they’re looking for in their new role. Otherwise, you may run into problems and struggle to retain them down the line.
6. Signs of a top candidate
So, you’ve now asked all the right questions, but how do you know who the right person for the job is? It can be difficult to tell, especially when you’ve interviewed a high number of applicants. However, there are ways to identify a good candidate from a great one.
Top applicants will provide you with concrete, detailed examples when answering questions. Typically, they’ll use the STAR method (Situational, Task, Action, Result).
This means they’ll explain the situation they were in, what they were tasked to achieve, the actions they took, and finally the results of those actions. These answers should give you a comprehensive overview of their skill level, personality traits, and how they behave in certain situations.
Also look for applicants who demonstrate positivity and initiative throughout their interview. Even if they’re talking about a negative experience, were they able to turn it into a positive outcome? If they’re pessimistic from the start, and seem to shift blame to anyone or thing other than themselves, chances are that attitude won’t change once they join your team.
A top candidate will also be open about how they want to grow with your company–and this is very important. Having a high employee turnover rate is not only bad for team morale, but it’s also costly. Therefore, you want to ensure applicants are serious about the opportunity and see a future for themselves with your company long term.
And finally, as Dwayne Childer at Electrical Contractor Magazine put it, “Hire based on work ethic, rather than skill level. To someone who’s willing to learn, I can teach the skills needed to be an electrician. But, it’s almost impossible to teach a work ethic. They’ve either got it or they don’t.”
By asking a range of electrical interview questions–whether that be focused on their skills, behaviors, or cultural fit–you’re sure to improve the quality of your conversations with candidates. You’ll also gain deeper insights into their personalities, capabilities, and qualifications.
And by doing this, it will become easier to identify who will be the best fit for your company. Ultimately, it all comes down to great communication, which, coincidentally, is a topic the Commusoft team is passionate about!
That’s why we’ve put together The Customer Communication Toolkit for you. It has 10 free templates that will help you email like a pro, download your copy below!
Hi! I'm Ashley Tortorelli
When I'm not researching industry trends and writing about business strategies, I spend time with friends and family, travelling, and searching for the world's best chocolate chip cookie.