Interviewing can be a stressful process–and not just for the applicant. As a hiring manager you want to find the best candidate for the role, but it’s not always easy to know what to ask to ensure they’re the right fit for the job. That is why we’ve put together this list of plumbing interview questions. It will help to keep your conversations on track and focused on the things that really matter.
Asking these plumbing interview questions will give you a full and well rounded overview of who your candidates are. You’ll learn about their character, qualifications, and how they handle certain situations. Knowing this will help you make a better, more informed decision about who joins your company. In turn, it will also lower your turnover and hiring costs in the long run.
1. Behavioral plumbing interview questions
What are behavioral interview questions?
Behavioral interviewing is focused on asking an applicant about their past experiences. Therefore, it’s a great way to learn about how they approach their work and the traits that make them successful in a role.
These plumbing interview questions fall under “structured interviewing.” This means that a hiring manager can ask all applicants the same behavioral questions and compare their answers easily using a predetermined evaluation scale. This helps to limit any unintentional bias or discretion on the interviewer’s part.
Behavioral questions to ask (and why you should be asking them)
1. What is your proudest professional accomplishment?
It’s important to know that the applicant takes pride in their work and can demonstrate it. This question also gives them the opportunity to share an especially interesting example, and show what skills they can bring to the team.
2. Describe a time you needed information from someone who wasn’t very responsive. How did you handle the situation?
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.
3. Have you ever made a mistake on the job? If yes, how did you handle it?
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.
4. Was there ever a time you didn’t meet a customer’s expectations? What was your approach and what was the outcome?
Being a plumber 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.
5. What is your least favorite task to perform on a job?
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?
6. Can you explain how you prioritize customers’ needs when working on several projects at once?
Time management is essential to being a great plumber. Providing excellent customer service is equally crucial. This is an important plumbing interview question because their answer will make it clear if they’re skilled in both, and establish whether or not they’re a fit for the role.
7. Tell me about a time you were given incomplete instructions for a job.
How does the candidate approach a problem? Do they fall to pieces and give up, or take action and find a solution? Questions like these that are focused on overcoming challenges will give you a lot of insight into their personality. As a result, they will help you decide if they’ll be a good match for your business.
8. How would you handle a situation when you’re working in a team and your partner disagrees with your solution?
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.
What to look for in a candidate’s answers
Behavioral questions will help you learn about a candidate’s personality and past experiences. They’re meant to give you valuable clues into how they might handle the day to day on the job.
From these questions you’ll want to be able to understand how the candidate reacts to real-world situations. Hopefully, they’ll answer with specific, detailed examples. But if they don’t, feel free to ask follow up questions!
Then, evaluate the examples they gave. For instance, when faced with a challenge, were they level headed and determined? Or did they come across as frazzled and overwhelmed? Keep an eye out especially for candidates who tend to blame other people or circumstances for their situation. You want someone who is capable of taking responsibility and handling a difficult situation, not a person looking to shift the blame.
Also keep in mind, most plumbing positions are client facing. From their responses, ask yourself if they are someone you would feel comfortable having in your home?
To make the process easier, it’s helpful to list out the traits you’re looking for in a new employee before the interview. This way you can see which applicants checked the boxes, and who missed the mark.
2. Role-specific plumbing interview questions
What are role-specific interview questions?
Role-specific questions should be focused on gauging how qualified the candidate is for the position. If you’re hiring for a more senior role, for example, it’s important to know if they’ll be able to perform everything required of them.
These types of questions can also give you insight into how serious an applicant is about the job. If their answers seem far off and irrelevant, they most likely did not take the time to read through the job description. On the other hand, if their answers tick all of the boxes, it will be evident they did their homework and are excited about the position.
While the plumbing interview questions below are a great starting point, be sure to tailor them to the specific position you’re hiring for. This will help you better evaluate candidates for the role.
Role-specific questions to ask (and why you should be asking them)
1. What technical experience do you have that makes you a good fit for this role?
A resume only has so much space, so give candidates the opportunity to walk you through their experience. They may bring up an additional certification they have or a course they took that could be extremely valuable to your team.
2. Can you talk me through how you approach a [role specific] job step by step?
This plumbing interview question will give you a clear understanding of how the candidate works. If they can’t get past the first two steps of the job or disregard health & safety procedures, it will become evident they’re underqualified for the role. If they can talk you through everything in detail, you can be confident they have the skills required.
3. Would you recommend water mains to be copper or PVC? Can you explain why?
This is not only to test an applicant’s knowledge, but also an opportunity to see how they can explain their decisions. Are they clear and articulate in their answer? If you were the customer and heard this explanation, would you be convinced by their recommendation?
4. What tools do you bring with you to every job? And why those specific ones?
This will demonstrate their familiarity with the trade. If they can’t list off common tools and explain why they’re necessary, you may have uncovered a big gap in their knowledge you would have otherwise not recognized until much later. Plus, this will give you a better idea of what they expect from their employer if you’re planning to provide them with additional equipment.
5. In the past year, how have you improved your knowledge of the plumbing industry?
It’s important to have informed employees who actively stay up to date on the latest trends in the industry. If their knowledge is outdated, it can lead to costly mistakes on the job. If they’re continually looking for new information, however, it demonstrates that they’re passionate about their work and eager to learn.
6. What precautionary steps do you take to make sure there are no safety code violations on a job?
Again, it’s essential that your employees have the safety knowledge to protect themselves and are compliant with regulations. This plumbing interview question will also give you insights into how they work on the job.
7. If a customer asked you for advice on how to best maintain their plumbing, what would you tell them?
Having good customer service and communication skills are a big part of being a plumber. Even if the candidate has all the technical skills, if they can’t speak to customers professionally, it’s going to pose a big problem down the line. This question ensures that they’ll represent your company in a positive way.
8. What do you consider to be the skills that every plumber needs?
You most likely listed certain skills you were looking for in a candidate. Did they make the effort to read through them? This question will tell you more about who they are as a person, but also if they paid attention to your job posting.
What to look for in a candidate’s answers
A qualified applicant should give detailed answers to role-specific questions. This is an opportunity to evaluate how knowledgeable they are of the industry, and they should be excited to explain what they know.
You should also take into consideration their tone as they answer these questions. Are they enthusiastic? Or do they sound bored? These questions are focused on the position itself, so if they don’t demonstrate any excitement when talking about it, it might not be the right fit.
A well qualified candidate should also be able to provide you with examples. They’ll be able to walk you through a time they were in a similar situation and really highlight their skillset. If you find them answering the question in five words or less, however, this should be seen as a red flag.
We also recommend not to disqualify a candidate just because they lack some experience. If they can still demonstrate strong industry knowledge and express a willingness to learn, they should be considered for the role. You can always provide them with additional training down the line, especially if they show an eagerness to gain new skills.
3. General plumbing interview questions
Why ask general interview questions?
While you can learn a lot about a candidate by asking them behavioral and role-specific questions, there are other important things to take into consideration. For example, you’ll want to make sure they have a clean record, that their salary expectations match your budget, and that they’ll be a great cultural fit at the company.
A “no” to any one of these can be a deal breaker. That’s why it’s best to ask these plumbing interview questions before sending an offer letter to a candidate who ultimately won’t be a match long term.
General questions to ask (and why you should be asking them)
1. Tell me about yourself.
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 plumbing. However, this question also enables them to open up and share more about who they are as a person.
2. What kind of plumbing software are you familiar with?
While this shouldn’t be a make-or-break question, it is an important one. If the candidate is familiar with the plumbing software your team is already using, that’s amazing! It means they’ll require less training and be able to hit the ground running.
3. What makes you the right fit for this position?
This plumbing interview question may not be a revolutionary one, but a candidate needs to be able to explain why they’re the right choice for the role. And consequently, if they can’t, they most likely are not the right fit.
4. What does a job “well done” mean to you?
Everyone wants to do a good job, but that can mean a lot of different things to different people. This question ensures you and the applicant are on the same page about quality of work and what the expectations are for the position.
5. What are your wage expectations for this role?
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.
6. Do you have a valid driver’s license and clean driving record?
Similarly, if the applicant can’t drive or has too many accidents on their record, things may not pan out in the long run. 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.
7. What are your interests and hobbies?
This is a great question to ask to put an applicant more at ease and open up the conversation. Interviews are stressful! So if you can find common ground with them early on, the process can quickly become more enjoyable for both of you.
8. Do you have any questions I can answer?
On the same note, an interview is a conversation. The applicant should be equally curious about you as you are about them. But if they’re not, it might not be the best fit. They should be genuinely curious about the business, and hopefully come with questions prepared in advance.
What to look for in a candidate’s answers
For the most part, the answers to these plumbing interview questions should be straightforward. If you’re asking about their record or wage expectations, for example, don’t expect anything too elaborate. In fact, if they seem to completely dodge the question or answer vaguely, this should be a red flag.
When asking questions focused on company culture, see what gets them excited and try to connect with them on the topic. Maybe they love being outdoors, and your company recently offered a camping retreat for team building. What ends up connecting you, might surprise you!
Finally, remember that interviews aren’t a one-way transaction. You should be selling the position just as hard as they’re selling themselves to you because chances are, the candidate is applying to other companies as well. If you genuinely liked them, your sales pitch also has to hold up. Try to find common ground and focus on making it a conversation versus an interrogation.
By asking a range of plumbing interview questions–behavioral, role-specific, and general–you’re sure to improve the quality of your conversations with candidates. You’ll also gain deeper insights into their personalities, capabilities, and qualifications.
As Tom Master’s from Plumbing & Mechanical Magazine puts it, “We assume all the good [candidates] are taken, but the truth is the market is filled with qualified people with all the skills, knowledge and determination you’re looking for.”
Ultimately, asking the right questions will help you identify these applicants more easily and ensure you hire the right employee for your company.
It all comes down to great communication, which, coincidentally, is a topic the Commusoft team is passionate about! That is 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.