What Are The Most Common Field Technician Interview Questions?

February 28, 2023 | Read: 19 minutes

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You can’t grow a company without the right team members. But where do you start hiring in an industry that’s famous for high turnovers and an aging work force?

The best solution is to develop a great hiring process.

That starts with the right field technician interview questions.

But what are the best questions to ask during this interview process? Let’s find out…

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Why are interviews important?

The first step towards improving your interviewing process is to acknowledge that a good technician is more than just their work experience or accreditation level.

When asked, most people will say that they think of themselves as being pretty objective, especially when it comes to a formal setting like an interview.

But the truth is we’re not very good at assessing ourselves objectively. We’re usually worse at assessing others, too. Internal or unconscious biases go much deeper than simply making a decision to be objective.

What’s more, you’re probably aware of concepts like gender or racial bias and are actively trying to combat them. But Indeed—the hiring platform—lists nine types of biases.

Notable amongst these nine, are:

  • first impression bias (the tendency to judge a candidate in the first 30 seconds)
  • variable questioning bias (changing your questions from interview to interview depending on the candidate)
  • nonverbal bias (prioritizing non-verbal cues such as a strong hand-shake or eye-contact)
  • recency bias (the most recent interviews tend to leave a more positive impression)
  • similarity bias (the tendency to hire people that have similar hobbies or interests as you)
  • stereotyping bias (judging an individual based on perceived or imagined group characteristics)

Any of these biases will lead not only to an unfair advantage for some candidates, but might also sabotage your hiring process, preventing you from finding the best person for the job.

A lack of good fit between employer and employee means a higher turnover in the long term and you spending more on hiring again, only to risk the same outcome.

This is why effective interview questions for field service technicians are so important.

Where can you find good technicians?

Many trades business owners have been asking themselves this. The truth is that across industries, from plumbing to HVAC to facilities management, experienced technicians aren’t easy to find.

An aging workforce combined with a many young people being discouraged from choosing trade schools over colleges have led to a real technician shortage in some areas of the US.

However, there are still a few ways to find good technicians:

Hire young and train them well

If you need to hire technicians but your competitors are snapping up all the good ones – try getting first dibs on talented prospects while they’re still in school by connecting with local vocational schools.

If you have the resources to groom techs at vocational and technical schools through internships or mentorships, this can be a great way to build a pipeline of talent as your field service business grows.

young male solving field technician interview questions and choosing a drill

There are other benefits that outweigh cash and attract young talent. For example, an article on LogicBay says that “offering benefits such as tool allowances, tuition reimbursement, and discount programs can tip the scales in your favor”. Additionally, training, courses, and other educational opportunities have also been shown to improve your employer profile and lower turnover rates. An engaged employee is not an employee looking for another job.

Treating employees fairly and helping them with their career growth may seem like a no-brainer to many field service business owners, but you’d be shocked at how many employers don’t take the time to make that happen. 

Advertise the job in the right place

Most service and maintenance companies will post their jobs to the same boards over and over again, even if they’re not getting the best candidates this way. Depending on where you’re operating, you need to advertise your job where your audience is most likely to be found.

Start with online platforms (Indeed is one of the largest ones), of course, but don’t overlook local job boards, newspapers, and popular spots like coffee shops or restaurants. If you’re looking to target those young apprentices or future technicians, make sure to visit local high schools, vocational schools and other learning centers.

What’s more, women technicians that bring a wealth of benefits to companies are an often overlooked resource. Owners and hiring managers claim that they don’t apply to these jobs, but haven’t really tried developing a strategy to appeal to them. Look up women’s trade associations and groups in your local area or on social media and reach out to them.

Build a reputation as a great place to work

Ever thought of letting them come to you? Make sure you have an open submission page on your website to catch anyone who might be interested in working for you, but isn’t finding your jobs ads. That’s the easy part. The hard part is actually becoming the kind of work place where people apply without being asked.

maintenance people answering field technician interview questions on site

Right now you’re probably huffing and saying: “Yeah, making the ‘Top 100 Companies to Work For’ list sounds very easy”. But according to this TechTarget article, it mostly comes down to simply being nice. 

Being known as the best place to work will attract talent. Make sure you create a profile on Glassdoor and ask employees (both current and former) to leave a honest reviews so that prospects can check out how great it is to work for you. 

Managing to build a reputation as a fair employer who wants hard work, but is ready to give back in terms of compassionate management and opportunities to grow, will help you attract the kind of talent you actually need for a successful business. 

Offer the right perks

Then there are the little extras that simply make a company a fun place to work like:

  • contests (keep these fun and relevant to your employees’ interests)
  • mentorship or buddy programs (helps pass on knowledge and makes new employees more comfortable)
  • thank-you notes for a job well done (many people cite “not being acknowledged” as a big reason for leaving a job)

A friendly office manager, skilled co-workers, top-of-the-line devices, and holiday parties are all great—but these perks won’t help you attract the best technicians if potential hires don’t know about you. That’s where the job ad comes in.

How do you write a job ad for a field service technician?

First, let’s get the basics down: an ad that’s missing key elements will scare away job-seeking technicians. The consultancy firm Morgan McKinley suggests creating an ad template to make sure you have all the info you need, starting with key questions like these:

  • What’s the exact job title?
  • Where is the company located?
  • Is the job full-time or part-time?
  • Who is your ideal candidate?
  • What does your company value?
  • Who will the technician be working with?
  • What will the technician’s responsibilities be?
  • What skills, experience, or abilities, does a potential hire absolutely have to have?
  • What are some “nice-to-have” abilities that will make someone stand out?

Once you have the facts down, infuse your ad with personality. Big companies tend to write bone-dry ads that sound like 1950s business memos; you can compete for skilled technicians by creating job ads that showcase your business’s values and character.

Don’t be afraid to use humor, be extra-transparent about what it’s like to work for your company (“Things can get chaotic at times”), and brag about the work environment (two words: Pizza Fridays).

One issue that is sure to come up is the salary. Some employers will write down a range and add “dependent on experience” while others would rather keep it private as a negotiation advantage.

However, experts at Forbes and The Balance Careers agree that transparency is key, especially if you’ve already bragged about how open your company is. List your salary range to ensure that you’re not wasting your own time on candidates who look and sound fantastic, but end up refusing the position because the pay is not what they expected.

How to spot red flags on a resume

Now that you have your resumes coming in, how do you go about sorting them and spotting any previous role red flags?

  • Skills – do they match this role 100%? Are they 80%? 50%? Are they a ‘firm no’?
  • Experience level if you need a technician with five years of experience, how close do they come to that?
  • Budget – are you able to get someone who’s only an 80% match, but they’re $500 below your budget or do you have a perfect fit who’s only a couple of dollars above your budget?

Then there are definitely other factors, like location. For example, maybe the candidate is a good fit with skills, experience, and cost, but they need to relocate.

Are career gaps a hiring red flag?

Another factor is gaps. Do they have a two-year gap in their experience, and can they explain it to your satisfaction? Do they work one month on a contract and then jump to another then another, or are they fulfilling six-and 12-month contracts? These factors tie into how you sort the resumes, along with the three above categories.

Pay attention to red flags, however. Job-hopping is one of the most obvious. If we have a role that’s a 12-month contract or a permanent role, how likely is it that they’ll want to stay with our company? Hiring an employee is expensive; they won’t be working at full capacity in the first months, and then there’s the equipment cost, uniforms, training, etc.

You have to make sure the person you hire will stick around so you can earn back that investment. At the same time, don’t dismiss a candidate based solely on this. Build trust during the interview, and ask them about their reasons. 

Is a lack of flexibility a concern?

A second, more immediate red flag that you see is flexibility—the applicant’s ability and willingness to interview. If we request a job interview for next week and they say, ‘Well, I’m not available then’ or ‘I’m available to interview, but only from 12-12:30 on Wednesday’, you can take that two different ways. One is that they’re in demand.

The other is that they’re pushing you off because they have another offer. The ball is then in your court to decide if the candidate is worth chasing. 

Watch out for attention to details

Another thing to look out for is attention to detail—simple things such as spelling errors or disorganized resumes with seven fonts and crazy highlighting.

If they’re not showing attention to detail with this, how are they going to be on the job site? However if they have the experience, if they fit those three buckets of skills, experience, and budget—it’s not as much of a concern. At the end of the day, you can’t expect a tech to be a great writer too.

commusoft podcast about hiring field technicians

Hear how Tools in the Trades are helping train new generations of tradespeople!

Should you do a video interview?

The answer to this question should pretty much always be yes. You don’t have to think of yourself as a tech-savvy company to ask people to do an online interview first. These are easy to set up and don’t have to take more than 10-15 minutes. They will not screen candidates for skills but more for personality and general attitude.

It’s difficult to get a perfect picture from a resume so you can take this opportunity to ask for clarification (on gaps, for example!) and discuss the company’s expectations. This is a change for some very basic field technician interview questions, like where are they based, why are they looking for a new job, etc. If it turns out that this candidate cannot work on weekends and you need someone more flexible, then you’ve saved yourself and them a few hours by not scheduling a face-to-face meeting.

These interviews are also a great opportunity to discover what candidates are looking for in a new position and if you’re a match. Sure, you have your own list of field technician interview questions, but they most likely have some boxes they need to tick as well. Be sure to always check if they have anything they would like to ask, and be as transparent as possible when answering.

Although brief, this interview shouldn’t be one sided. It’s the beginning of your relationship with them, so make it count!

What questions should I ask in a field technician job interview?

One mistake some managers make is turning a face-to-face interview into a resume reading session. By the time a potential employee makes it to your office for an interview, you should already know the facts. 

Feel free to ask them about specific jobs or positions they’ve held if there’s anything you couldn’t make out from the resume – but, otherwise, take this opportunity to figure out whether they’re both the right technician and the right person for your business.

The truth is you can teach skills, but you can’t teach personality. Your field service technicians are on the front line with customers all day, so it’s essential they can present themselves well, handle difficult customer situations, work independently, troubleshoot common problems, and think on their feet. 

Asking the right questions during the job interview can help you figure out if a candidate has what it takes—and asking the wrong ones can waste everyone’s time and saddle you with a nightmare employee. (No pressure!)

Looking to hire and retain HVAC technicians? Check out: 5 Strategies to Find and Keep HVAC Technicians

Position-specific field technician interview questions

Position-specific questions let you know whether the candidate has the basic qualifications for the job. These are usually related to their technical knowledge and other details that pertain strictly to the job. For example:

  • What kind of training or certifications do you have?
  • What’s the first step you’d take when diagnosing a fault in a customer’s air conditioning unit (or other common industry specific appliance)?
  • What’s the most common type of HVAC (or industry specific) issue you’ve handled?
  • What is the type of service that you like/dislike most?
  • Do you have a clean driving record?

Motivational questions

Finding out what motivates candidates and what their goals and ideals are can give you a sneak peek at their future performance, according to Geoff Hoppe in his article 5 Essential Field Technician Interview Questions on the Capterra blog.

  • Describe your ideal work schedule
  • What does a “job well done” mean for you?
  • What would a major ‘win’ look like for you?
  • What did you like best about your last job?
  • Where would you like to be in the next year (five years, 10 years)?

The way a candidate answers motivational questions can reveal just as much about them as their actual answer. For example, if they can’t find a single positive thing to say about their last job or they need five minutes to come up with an answer to a question, they may not be the right field service technician for you. 

A person’s technical credentials will only tell you if they’re capable of getting the job done, but their work ethic is what guarantees they will do it, and, not only that, but do it to the best of their abilities. Someone who describes a “job well done” as going above and beyond to provide the customer with a great experience is the kind of person you want on your team: motivated, eager to learn, and customer-oriented. Like we mentioned before, these are not qualities you can teach someone; it has to come from them. 

Behavioral questions (also known as situational questions)

In their article, Workable suggests asking questions that reveal the candidate’s personality and how they would handle various situations in the field. These problem-solving skills are essential to a good hire. Behavioral questions include:

  • Tell me about a time when you dealt with an angry customer. How did you handle their complaints?
  • What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far as a field service technician, and how did you handle it?
  • What new skills would you like to learn as a field service technician?
woman asking field technician questions in interview with man

Listen carefully to the answers. For example:

Does the candidate sound excited about the idea of learning new skills?

  • Are they open to being trained on your team’s tools and procedures?
  • Do they handle customer conflict well?
  • Can they deal with problems in the field without having to ask for help?

These are the kinds of things that will ensure you have a smooth working relationship. Keep in mind that it’s very difficult to create long-term, reliable external motivation.

Sure, you can play carrot & stick and dangle a bonus or a pay cut, but that only works short-term and will create a culture of financial incentives that can backfire, either by becoming too costly or because people don’t handle financial threats very well.

Imagine if you had to function while constantly under negative pressure like that.

Would you deliver your best work? 

Intrinsic motivation is the way to go and this is something you have to identify during the interview. Candidates who are naturally motivated by the fact that they want to be the best version of themselves are the most valuable.

Curveball questions

Hiring employees is time-consuming and expensive, and it stinks when it quickly becomes clear that your newest hire won’t work out.

“We can blame eighty-nine percent of hiring failures on a poor cultural fit”, says Erika Andersen of Forbes.

Asking curveball questions during the technician’s interview can help head off this problem by revealing whether the candidate will connect with your company culture.

Some oddball examples:

  • What’s the first thing you should do in a zombie apocalypse?
  • What’s the last book you read?
  • On a scale from 1 to 10, rate me as an interviewer. (This one is from Jobsite’s article on curveball questions.)
  • What’s something you believe that no one else agrees with you on?
  • Would you rather fight one horse-sized duck, or 100 duck-sized horses? (Whole Foods interviewers ask this question, according to Glassdoor.)

Their answers to these curveball field technician interview questions—and also the way they react when they’re hit with weirdo queries like these—will show whether they have the confidence, humor, or smarts to make it as an employee in your business.

Common questions for field technician interviews:

Feel free to add your preferred questions.

However, if you’re looking for some standard field technician interview questions when you’re hiring for your field service business, then this is a great start:

  1. Tell me a bit about yourself.
  2. I have your resume here but I’d like you to walk me through your work experience. What was your favorite job until now?
  3. What kind of training or certifications do you have? 
  4. Now, let’s talk about how you deal with jobs. What’s the first step you take when diagnosing a fault in a customer’s furnace?
  5. What’s the most common type of issue you’ve handled?
  6. What do you consider to be a “job well done” in this situation?
  7. If you’re faced with a problem that you don’t know how to solve, what do you do?
  8. Tell me about a time when you dealt with an angry customer. How did you handle their complaints?
  9. What new skills would you like to learn as a field service tech?
  10. If you had to fight a Transformer and you could take one tool from your van, what would it be and why?

Don’t forget to sell them the job, too

A great field tech, who has both technical skills and a good personality is not going to stay unemployed for long. Consider the talent shortage the industry is dealing with, chances are this is also an interview for you. So, don’t hold back on selling the job if you have a good feeling about the candidate in front of you.

Benefits and financials are all great to present as an incentive here, but try to go deeper and paint a clear picture of the kind of company you’re running and what are your plans for the future. If the candidate is really looking for a long-term job, they’ll be glad to hear of how you’ve started the company, and where you plan on taking it next.

At the same time, give them an idea of what their working week could look like, the teambuilding activities you organize, or any other business culture information. After the interview is over, send them an email, even if they didn’t get the job, in the end. Oftentimes, hiring managers have a tendency to play power games with candidates and send off arrogant vibes, but this only alienates good candidates.

You never know, maybe this job position didn’t work out now, but they could be a good option for something opening up in the future. Don’t burn your bridges!

Speaking of emails, you might think those aren’t your specialty and you’d probably be right. But the way you and your employees communicate, on behalf of the company, is all part of the brand image you’re projecting, so you want to make sure it’s all positive.

To give you a head-start, we’ve collect 10 of the most common templates field service businesses need, and made them available to you.

Find out why everyone loves Commusoft’s email templates, here!

Start hiring better field technicians today!

With this guide to field technician interview questions, we hope you’re now ready to hire the best of the best. Overall, a good hiring process is a matter of trial and error.

The key is to always analyze it, ask for feedback even from people who might not have gotten the job, then highlight what can be improved in the future.

Want more interview questions? We have:

Once you’ve got your perfect team, consider taking things to the next level. A good work environment means having the tools that make everyone’s life easier.

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I'm here to bring you next-level strategies to the field service industry. When I'm not working on the best tips to grow your business, I'm on the lookout for sci-fi novels and cookie recipes.

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