Getting a job as an electrician requires relevant skills and credentials, preferably with several years of experience in the field. If you lack experience, starting a career as an electrician will require more gumption, since you’ll probably have to search numerous wanted ads and interview with various utilities, making a strong case each time about your potential. For anyone fresh out of trade school who is asking, “How do I get a job as an electrician?” learning how to get a job as an electrician apprentice should be your next step.
Maintenance Electrician Interview Tips: How to Answer 15 Common Questions
Whether you are a graduate applying for an apprenticeship or a seasoned worker hoping to switch jobs, you will need to prepare yourself for the hard questions most interviewers ask when they are looking to hire electricians.
1. What Are Your Qualifications for Work as an Electrician?
When you interview with prospective employers about your qualifications and potential as an electrician, you will need to emphasize your credentials, job experience, and relevant skills. If you hold a degree or certificate that pertains to the field, bring that with you and show it to the interviewer during your meeting. Mention previous jobs that correlate to the position you are applying for and describe the functions you performed with those companies.
2. What Areas of the Field Do You Specialize In?
Most employers will ask about your specific skill sets and areas of expertise in the electrical field. If your specialty with past utilities has centered on electrical systems, you will need to describe the tasks such work entailed. If your prior job was more focused on wiring or mechanical maintenance, you will need to explain that work and mention some of your significant accomplishments in that regard. Likewise, if your prior work involved troubleshooting, describe that work and indicate how you could bring those skills to this new utility.
3. What Makes You Interested in the Electrical Field?
If you have not previously held any positions in the electrical field, the employers you interview with will want to know what draws you to the trade. Have you developed skills outside the industry that would be relevant to the work in question? Have you studied up on things to the point where you feel confident that your knowledge of electrician work will qualify you for an entry-level position? Any company you approach for a job or apprenticeship will want to know about your reasons and objectives for entering this line of work.
4. Why Are You Applying to This Particular Area of Electrical Work?
When you apply to a specific type of electrical job, the interviewer will usually ask why you are interested in that area of the trade. For example, if you are applying to work in the industrial side of the field, the interviewer might ask about what problems you would have with working in the commercial or residential sides of the industry, or vice versa. You will need to be forthright and explain how your skill sets are a good fit for maintenance work at electrical sites. Likewise, if your skills are more suited for residential work, you will need to describe your experience in that area of the trade.
5. How Would You Replace a Fuse with a Circuit Breaker?
Some interviewers might ask you technical questions designed to gauge whether you have a basic knowledge of the electrical trade. In some cases, these might be trick questions intended to weed out unqualified applicants. For instance, an interviewer might ask you to describe how you would go about replacing a fuse with a circuit breaker, and the challenge is on you to point out how that is technically impossible because fuses and circuit breakers are not interchangeable.
6. What Types of Electrical Systems Have You Worked on in the Past?
Prepare a list of the different electrical systems you have worked on during your work experiences, complete with details about each project. Describe the role you played in each of these jobs and how that experience would apply to the position you seek with the new employer in question. The interviewer will want to gain a sense of how your knowledge will directly qualify you above all other candidates and how your skills will apply to the electrical system at their utility.
7. How Do You Handle Safety Concerns on the Job?
Your interviewer will probably ask you to describe how you handle safety issues on the job. Questions like these are essential because they allow you to detail your knowledge of safety protocols. Questions about electrical safety also give interviewers a chance to gauge your level of concern regarding safety issues in general. If a dangerous situation were to arise, the employer will want to be confident you would take the proper steps to contain it.
8. What Are the Biggest Challenges You Have Handled in Prior Jobs as an Electrician?
When you apply to a new utility, the employer will want to know about the challenges you have faced in the line of work with previous electrical companies. Have there been challenges where you did not know what to do about the situation at hand? If so, how did you and your team resolve the situation, and what did you learn from the experience? In general, how do you deal with challenging situations, such as unexpected issues existing protocols do not cover?
9. What Are the Most Crucial Skill Sets for Electricians?
An employer will want to know if you understand the types of skill sets that are most important for work as an electrician. You will need to convey your understanding of the skill sets that are crucial in this line of work and describe them in considerable detail. Even as you apply for a position in one particular area of the field, you will need to make it clear how your work will relate to other departments and the roles fellow workers play at the company.
10. What Steps Do You Follow During the Final Stages of a Job?
Employers will seek to verify an understanding on your part about the critical procedures to enact before you mark off a project as complete. When you talk to an interviewer, you will need to give details about the steps you take on the job to ensure you complete each project to the standards specified, and that you account for all contingencies with careful attention to detail.
11. How Long Did You Work for Your Prior Utility?
When employers look at resumes, the length of time you’ve spent with prior employers will be just as pertinent as the roles you’ve fulfilled. The number of months or years you spend at a given job will indicate your ability to fulfill tasks, follow orders, and get along with co-workers. After all, employers are looking to hire skilled workers who can handle the tasks required and provide loyal service for a long time to come. If your resume lists one or more previous jobs that were short-lived, the interviewer might be suspicious of your ability to hold a position. If you do have short-term jobs on your resume, be prepared to explain the reasons for that brevity.
12. What Are Your Reasons for Changing Jobs?
If you already work for another utility and wish to change jobs, the prospective employer will want to know about your reasons for leaving your current job. You will need to be honest, yet positive, focusing on the right reasons for changing utilities while avoiding any negative details about your current situation. For something positive, you could express your qualifications for a higher-level position that won’t be opening up at your current company due to it already being filled. You could also say that you wish to work for a utility closer to home. Negative reasons would include problems with co-workers or unhappiness with your current line of work.
13. What Are Your Salary Expectations?
Whenever you change jobs, you should ask for a salary that matches your qualifications and skill set. Ideally, you should pitch for a salary somewhat higher than the one at your previous job, especially if you have not received a pay raise in several years. Granted, if you transfer to an easier job with fewer hours at a utility closer to home, you might accept a lower salary in exchange for the convenience. Otherwise, you should quote a realistic salary which matches the functions of the new job in question.
14. How Would the Staff at Your Prior Utility Characterize You as an Employee and Colleague?
An interviewer might ask this question to gauge how you feel about your past co-workers and superiors. Would your former colleagues characterize you as a friendly, positive person and a responsible team player? Would your bosses describe you as a reliably good worker with attention to details and safety procedures? A prospective employer will want to know if you have the personality traits utilities seek in new employees.
15. Why Should We Hire You?
This question will often be the last one you must answer in a job interview. You will need to pitch your potential value to the employer in layman’s terms. A common mistake applicants make while answering this question is to deliver platitudes like “team player,” “loyal employee,” and “dedicated worker.”
Rather than telling the interviewer what you think he or she wants to hear, focus instead on how the utility would benefit from your unique skills as an electrician. Restate your skills and any key accomplishments that are relevant to the job in question. Remember, it’s not what the employer can do for you — it’s what you can do for the employer.
How to Prepare for a Job as an Electrician
Once you land work as an electrician, you will need to have the energy, strength, and stamina for the physically grueling tasks that come with the job. For maximum health and resilience, employ the following wellness steps.
1. Maximize Your Nutrition
Jobs in the electrician industry generally involve serious amounts of physical activity. As such, you need to be reasonably healthy, robust, and energetic to perform the tasks required in this line of work. To maintain proper energy levels throughout your work shifts, make sure to eat a diet high in protein. The United States Department of Agriculture recommends physically active men aged 19 to 50 consume 3,000 calories per day.
2. Wear Decent Work Shoes
In jobs that require you to be on your feet most of the time, it is crucial to have footwear that is both durable and comfortable. Choose a pair of shoes or work boots that will support the arches of your feet and fit firmly, without being too tight. These shoes or boots should be made of strong material which will protect your feet and handle the rigors of the industrial environment with minimal wear and tear.
3. Get Proper Sleep
To be fully energized for each scheduled work shift, you should get the proper amount of sleep every 24 hours. Depending on the schedule of your work shifts, your sleeping time might be during overnight or daytime hours. Either way, you should get between six and eight hours of sleep, preferably uninterrupted. If you do nap from time to time, limit those naps to 25 to 30 minutes, as anything longer could cause your body to go into a deep sleep, after which it could be harder to get back up and resume your day in a clear-headed, fully energized state.
4. Consume Sufficient Liquid
In addition to protein, muscles require water to maintain proper health and remain resilient through hours of grueling work activity. To keep your body sufficiently hydrated throughout each work shift, make sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after your scheduled hours of work. Ideally, you should drink an eight-ounce glass of water eight times per day. If you get thirsty during your work shifts or spare time, increase your water consumption. During work shifts, avoid drinks that dehydrate the body, such as coffee and soda.
5. Stretch Once Per Hour
Jobs which involve repetitive, strenuous motions can cause muscle tension, especially over long work shifts. To reduce soreness and promote resilience, stretch your muscles at least once each hour. Even if you work in settings that make it difficult to fully extend your body, flex your hands and turn your wrists every 60 minutes.
6. Pace Your Meals
While the body does require a certain number of healthy calories each day, you cannot just consume it all in one or two sittings and expect to remain energized throughout a typical work shift. Eating too much in one sitting can make you tired. The most important meal of the day is breakfast, which should be hearty and packed with protein and vitamins. For maximum energy and digestive flow, eat five or six small meals each day, preferably every two and a half hours.
Electrician Continuing Education Program
To land work as an electrician, you must have the relevant training, knowledge, and skills for the work in question. At StateCE, we offer courses that prepare students for the work involved in various areas of the electrician industry. If these electrician apprentice interview tips have inspired you to seek a career in this rewarding field, learn more about the Electrician Continuing Education Program we provide at StateCE.