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Top 5 Questions You Should Be Asking Maintenance Engineers in a Job Interview

Building Services & Maintenance, Hiring tips

Joanne Crampton Head of Thorn Baker Estates Facilities & MaintenanceA lot has been written recently on how to prepare for video and telephone interviews in the time of Covid-19, but not much has been written about the actual questions you should be asking. In this blog, we'll look at the top questions our clients ask in their interviews and how you can make the most of them in yours.

Joanne Crampton, Head of Thorn Baker Estates, Facilities & Maintenance

Technical based questions like these (betterteam.com/maintenance-engineer-interview-questions) are great for delving into the skills and experience of your Engineers, but what do you ask to find out what makes them tick? Or what their personality is really like? After all, your interviewee is on their best interview behaviour – how do you figure out if they will act the same when they are on the job?

If you are interviewing Engineers over the phone or on a video call, it’s even more important to get these questions right. Remember you may not have the opportunity to take into account the nuances of body language and facial expressions as you would in a traditional face to face interview. Considering that your engineers are often the public face of your company, it’s so important to find out if they will fit with your culture and values.

Here at Thorn Baker EFM, we all have our own opinions about the best questions to ask engineers during an interview, but we thought who better to compile this list than the hiring managers themselves? So we spoke to our clients and asked them to nominate their favourite interview questions.

Thorn Baker EFM_Questions You Should Be Asking Maintenance Engineers in a Job Interview1. 'What can you bring to our company?'
Nigel Tomlinson, Horbury Property Services

What to look out for: A great way to find out if your interviewee has researched the company and their practices, their ambitions for the future, and their ability to self-analyse. A good answer would show that the engineer knows how their skills could match and benefit different sectors your company works in; a great answer will highlight that they’ve read your company values and can provide examples of their own experience that matches those values.

What to be wary of: Vague, non-committal answers to this question show that they may not have done their homework on your company, showing a lack of enthusiasm for the role or may not be great at self-analysis which can provide barriers when managing performance issues down the line.

Follow up questions include: What attracts you about working for our company? What’s your impression of our company culture?


Thorn Baker EFM_Questions You Should Be Asking Maintenance Engineers in a Job Interview2. 'What part of your job do you most enjoy?'
Graham Wheatley, Wheatley FM

What to look out for: This question will give you an insight into their real enthusiasm and motivation for the job – if their answer focuses on making the client happy, then you can reasonably assume that they will be a good ambassador for your company. If it’s about problem-solving and fault finding, they could be your next technical superstar.

What to be wary of: If your interviewee struggles to answer this question, or they give a flippant answer like ‘Getting Paid!’ they might not be the most committed employee, and will struggle to maintain a can-do attitude.

Follow up questions include: What training have you most enjoyed? What part of the job do you wish didn’t exist?


Thorn Baker EFM_Questions You Should Be Asking Maintenance Engineers in a Job Interview3. 'What is the best piece of feedback you have received that has gone on to help you in your career?'
Sarah Shardlow, The Coal Authority

What to look out for: People who remember (and take on board) good advice tend to be forward thinkers, good planners and cope well with change, so good well-rounded answers to this question with real-life examples is what you are looking for if you want someone who can take on responsibility and adapt easily to changing environments (great if you have a big portfolio of different clients)

What to be wary of: We’ve asked this question many times, and occasionally we’ll get answers along the lines of ‘Nothing really, I’ve always made my own way’. Whilst there’s nothing wrong with being self-sufficient keep an eye out for red flags that could indicate a lack of critical thinking, or an inability to take on criticism and advice

Follow up questions include: Who has been your most influential manager? What do you wish someone had told you at the beginning of your career?


Thorn Baker EFM_Questions You Should Be Asking Maintenance Engineers in a Job Interview4. ‘How important do you believe it is to achieve a good team spirit, and what type of things might you be able to do within your role to ensure a good team ethos exists?’
Paul Cronin, Cambridge Maintenance Services Limited

What to look out for: This is particularly important to ask engineers who could be working on static sites in a team of mixed experiences and backgrounds – a good team player will give an enthusiastic answer with real-life experiences of where working in a great team has benefited the whole operation, and will talk about friends and connections they have made on the job in the past. Great answers will include examples of where they have helped younger or more inexperienced team members to grow in skills and confidence.

What to be wary of: Candidates who struggle to answer this question might still turn out to be great team players, but may not have had much experience working in a team, especially if they have worked primarily a mobile role or on single person sites - they may take longer to settle into a team environment.  Explore further by asking about how they communicate with their managers and other engineers.

Follow up questions include: What’s the best team experience you’ve had in your career and why? What role do you think you take when working in a team?


Thorn Baker EFM_Questions You Should Be Asking Maintenance Engineers in a Job Interview5. 'Have you ever had to handle a difficult customer? How did you deal with it?'
Matt Price, FES FM

What to look out for: An Engineer who gives real examples and explains what the initial problem was and how it was solved demonstrates that they can learn from their experience as well as having the confidence and interpersonal skills to deal with your tricky clients in difficult circumstances – especially important skills for mobile engineers who might have to fault find and fix at short notice.

What to be wary of: Vague and uncertain answers to this question (look out for ‘we would usually do….’ instead of ‘I did…’) demonstrate that they may have little practical experience of these situations or maybe unsure or unaware of how to handle angry and upset clients. These Engineers would likely need more hands-on and in-person support when dealing with challenging clients and difficult situations. So be careful about what contracts you may choose to employ them on in the first instance.

Follow up questions can include: What preventative measures help diffuse difficult client situations? What support would you need when dealing with difficult clients?


Of course, these are just the top five questions that we picked for this blog – there are many more and we’d love to hear your suggestions and comments on the above. 

Want to know more about how we help our clients? You can read about how our Proven Process will overcome your recruitment challenges right here.

If you'd like to have a chat with the team about your upcoming interviews you can contact us here or you can complete our enquiry form and we'll contact you.

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Look out for our follow up blog, where we turn the tables and list the top questions Engineers should ask their prospective employer during an interview!