Hiring is always a challenge: finding the right candidates, going through the interview process, making an offer, and getting the candidate to accept. After all, most managers only hire a few people a year (if that), which shows that few are experts at knowing what to look for during an interview. 

While hiring is always a gamble, one common mistake that managers make is focusing too much on a candidate’s resume, and not enough on skills or personality traits that aren’t neatly displayed on the page—but that could be crucial to the job. Reduce the risk by looking for these five traits when evaluating new field service techs: 

Understanding of Customer Service 

Most people think of field service as a skills-based job. And it is. But service techs also deal with clients every day. That’s why it’s also important for them to be well-versed in people skills.

Customer service is something that everyone should understand. After all, we’re all customers. But many hiring managers don’t understand the importance of listening, problem-solving, and basic politeness. When a tech shows up at a job, they rely on the customer to describe the problem, and sometimes it takes a lot of good questioning to figure out what is really going on. A sample question: 

Tell me about the worst customer service you’ve ever received?

And a follow-up question: 

Thinking about that experience, what would you have done if the roles were reversed?

Technical Skills

This one is the most obvious! Of course, all techs need excellent technical skills, depending on the specific field work they’ll have to perform. If the person requires extensive training, they may not have them to begin with. But by asking about a candidate’s desire to learn, you can assess whether they have the capacity to learn the technical skills they lack. 

Try posing this question:

Can you share three skills you consider to be your key strengths?

Desire to Learn

Learning doesn’t have to take place in a classroom. Technology is continually changing, and a field service tech needs to keep up on new products and new technologies. Sometimes they may even need to learn new systems and skills on the fly, making a desire to learn critical for every tech. 

One question to evaluate a candidate’s willingness to learn: 

Tell me about the last new thing you learned. It doesn’t have to be work-related.

Logic and Reasoning

When a customer calls to say that their air conditioner is broken, they rarely say, “I have a problem with dirty coils and a series of small holes in my ductwork. The repair will require the following equipment and will take three hours.” No. They call to say that the A/C is broken.

When a tech arrives at a customer’s site, he needs the skills to evaluate the problem, determine the cause, and fix it. Logic and reasoning skills help speed up this process—otherwise, you’re just guessing at what’s making that weird noise and hoping to get lucky. You can give applicants logic tests, or ask them brain teaser questions, but candidates may just feel like you are trying to trick them. 

Instead, ask something like this:

A customer says her furnace is making a funny noise. Tell me the steps you’d go through to figure out the problem.

Commitment

Managers don’t want to hire someone and have her not show up to the second day of training. You’re looking for commitment. 

It’s easy to see this in an experienced candidate’s resume. If her previous job experience shows she stayed with companies for several years before moving on, you can make a safe assumption that she is not a job hopper. But what about someone fresh out of school? Or someone who has worked a series of dead-end jobs before applying to work for you? 

Evaluate a candidate’s broader life experiences: their academic credentials, social organizations, hobbies, or even involvement with sports. You can get a great idea of how well they do with commitment by considering their participation in these non-work organizations as well—if they’ve stayed engaged with a charitable organization for years, for example, that demonstrates their dedication to causes that are important to them, which shows character. 

If you’d rather avoid reading between the lines, just flat-out ask them: 

Can you share an example of a time when you’ve shown commitment or dedication to a task or project?

Next time you’re interviewing a candidate, test out these questions to find the best new technician for your open position.

About Suzanne Lucas

Suzanne LucasSuzanne Lucas spent 10 years in corporate human resources, where she hired, fired, managed the numbers, and double-checked with the lawyers. She now writes about Human Resources and Business for a number of different publications.

Want to run a better service organization?

Sign up to get the latest Field Service Digital news delivered to your inbox. 

Thanks for subscribing! Please add fsdigital[AT]original9.com to your contacts to make sure you get the latest field service news delivered to your inbox.