Resources, Advice & Tips for Covid-19
Read More

Common Interview Questions for an Electrician

Mary Gormandy White
Electrician working on an electrical panel

When interviewing for a job as an electrician, you can expect questions that deal with job-related specifics, as well as questions that pertain to general work history and attitude. The following interview questions may not come up in every interview, but you should be prepared to answer them like the example answers provided.

1. What Qualifies You to Work as an Electrician?

Employers will want to know if you have the right skills and credentials to work as a professional electrician. Mention any relevant certifications, licenses and education, as well as any experience from previous jobs that specifically pertain to an electrician's job.

Possible answers:

  • A high school diploma and an Associate's degree in Electrical Technology qualifies you.
  • Working as an apprentice for 4 years (or insert number years required in your state) provided experience.
  • You have been a licensed journeyman for (#) years.
  • You have excellent color vision.
  • Currently, you are working on your Master Electrician certification (if applicable).
  • You last finished the required credits for continuing education coursework (fill in the date and course).
  • You have experience in commercial building electrical systems.
  • You rewired older office buildings to bring them up to code, made installations and upgrades to various offices and rotated for on call weekends and nights for emergency repairs and troubleshooting.

2. Do You Specialize in Any Particular Areas?

Along with qualifications, an employer will want to know if you have any particular specializations. For example, some electricians specialize in electrical systems and controls, wiring, or electro-mechanical repairs. Others may have particular expertise in reading blueprints or general troubleshooting.

Possible answers for factory, manufacturing, or plant electrician position:

  • You specialize as an Industrial Electrician for large scale projects in plants and various industrial buildings/facilities.
  • You troubleshoot large production equipment in manufacturing plants (insert types of plants).
  • You've worked with various programmable logic centers, especially computers that control processes in the plants. You also wired and upgraded lighting systems and security systems.

Possible answers for a maintenance electrician:

  • You maintain, upgrade and repair the existing electrical systems in the plant.
  • You worked as a contractor for an electrical company contracted to several factories and plants (provide names and dates).
  • You were then hired by the plant (provide name) as an employee in the maintenance department responsible for electrical maintenance of all the plant equipment.

3. Why Are You Interested in the Electrical Trade?

If you are new to the electrical trade or are applying for an apprenticeship, you will probably be asked this question. Employers ask this question because they want to hear about your motivations and goals so that can be sure that you really have an interest in the field.

Answers of interest and reasons:

  • You've always been mechanically inclined.
  • Electricity and the various systems that power the equipment, machines and electronic systems are like puzzle to you when they need upgrading or repair.
  • You enjoy the challenge of hunting down what is wrong and then finding a solution to repair it so it operates and functions as it should.
  • You understand electric circuits and how electricity is conducted and how it powers various electrical systems.
  • You have a natural talent for it all.

4. Why Are You Interested in This Particular Type of Work?

Depending on the type of job you are interviewing for (industrial, residential or commercial), you might be asked why you are interested in that aspect of the field and not others. Be prepared to explain why you are seeking the particular type of position the interview is for.

Answer for industrial electrician:

  • You are an experienced industrial electrician as you described earlier.
  • You like solving problems.

Answers for residential electrician:

  • You take pride in finding solutions to the electrical system in a person's home. It makes your work very personal to know that you're able to restore the power to a person's home, rewire an old system so, it's no longer a fire hazard to the family living in the house, or wiring a new home so you know for certain the family living there will have a safe electrical system. It's a very rewarding job.

Answers for commercial electrician:

  • You enjoy the pace of working as a commercial electrician.
  • Your job changes almost weekly, unless you're on a longer project.
  • You get to travel on occasion, and you meet a lot of interesting people in different industries.
  • The electrical systems are often new construction, although you do get a few projects that involve upgrading or replacing/rewiring older systems.

5. What Is the Difference Between a Breaker and a Fuse?

Interviewers sometimes ask about what might seem like very basic knowledge to weed out people who lack the foundational knowledge necessary to succeed in the job. Be prepared to explain key concepts relevant to the work of an electrician to demonstrate that you have an understanding of the work and what it involves. If you happen to get asked a question that you don't know the answer to, you still might be fine if you can explain to the interviewer how you would approach finding the answer if faced with a need to know the information in the field.

Answer:

  • Both are designed to interrupt the flow of electricity either from an overload or short circuit.
  • A circuit breaker is the more modern method. It has an internal switch that will trip during an overload or short circuit. This prevents the current from going any farther and damaging equipment or in the case of your home, anything plugged into the outlets, like a refrigerator or a computer. Once the danger of the surge has passed, the circuit breaker can be reset.
  • A fuse on the other hand, isn't used in new construction. You can find them in older homes and buildings. A fuse is either AC (high voltage) or DC (low voltage). It acts like a breaker, but instead of resetting it, you manually have to replace it since it has a metal strip or a strand that sparks during an overload or short circuit. That strip melts and the fuse burns out. The fuse is just less efficient and has to be replaced while a circuit breaker switch can be reset easily.
Electrician paying attention to safety with high voltage

6. What Types of Electrical Systems Have You Worked on in the Past?

Be prepared to list the various types of electrical systems you have worked on in the past, giving specifics about the scope of each type of project and the role you played. If there are types of systems relevant to this job that you have not worked on before, explain how your past experience and training has prepared you to be ready to tackle these kinds of systems.

Possible answers:

  • You have worked on residential services that use a split-phase or a center-tapped neutral. These are common in homes for 120 volt lighting and various plug loads. The Line 1 to Line 2 for 240 volt single-phase loads for air conditioners, water heaters and electric ranges.
  • You have worked on three phase four wire wye for commercial buildings. This s 120/208 volt wye. It sustains small HVAC systems. You've also worked on electrical systems for bigger commercial buildings that required 277/480 volt and single phase 277 volt lighting and HVAC loads.
  • You've worked on three phase three wire delta wye electrical services for industrial buildings. These were for three-phase motor loads and also for utility power.
  • You have also worked in older manufacturing plants that have three-phase motor loads and some even were 120 volt single-phase lighting and plug loads.
  • You have also worked with three phase two wire corner-grounded delta electricals that were used as a way for the company to reduce the cost of wiring. So, you used a service cable that only had two insulated conductors instead of the three used in three phase service entrance.
  • You've worked with or on any of the following:
    • Line voltage and phase voltage
    • Directly earthed or earthed systems
    • Insulation fault issues and corrected an earthed phase
    • Low voltage and medium voltage networks
    • IT systems (unearthed systems), TT, TN (earthed systems), such as TN-C , TN-S and TN-C-S

Depending on the job you're interviewing for, you can explain how the systems you've worked on are either similar or relevant to the systems. You want to assure the recruiter you understand how electrical systems work.

7. What Are the Most Important Safety Concerns for Electricians?

Interviewers who ask this question want to see that you are safety-minded. They want to see that you have a good understanding of the risks associated with this type of work and get a sense of how concerned you are about safety in the way you approach your work.

Answer examples include:

  1. You are most concerned about fatal electrical shock.
  2. The second is electrical/thermal burns, possible electrical fires.
  3. There are other things you have to monitor such as lead exposure and the possible dangers during welding.
  4. You're aware of the dangers of working around machinery and equipment so you don't slip or fall.
  5. Some work requires you to be in tight spots, even contorted positions to reach areas needing repair, so you're always on guard against accidental mishaps or muscles strains.

8. What Is the Most Challenging Project You Have Faced as an Electrician?

Employers want to get a sense of what aspects of an electrician's job you might find to be challenging , as well as how you have responded in the past when facing such a situation. So, in addition to describing the situation, also provide details on how you handled the challenge and what you learned from it.

Answers:

  • Talk about a challenge that relates to the job you're interviewing for. This could be a project where you worked on the same kind of equipment or an installation that would be similar to what is expected of you in the new job.
  • Explain what made the project challenging and then provide details about how you met those challenges with positive results.
  • However, refrain from adding too much personal detail, especially anything that may reveal a weakness or negative reaction you had during the challenging project.
  • Showcase your strengthens and ability to overcomes challenges.
  • If you had to be creative in solving issues, outline these with precise details on how you solved the problem.

9. What Do You See as the Most Critical Skills for Electricians?

The goal of asking this type of question is to see if you have a clear understanding of what it takes to work successfully as an electrician. In addition to listing the skills, give examples that illustrate you possess them and apply them in your work.

Answers might include:

  • First, have technical skills and a good knowledge base and solid foundation of work experience base.
  • Good math skills are important too, especially algebra.
  • Excellent problem-solving abilities are needed. These are your strongest skills along with critical thinking skills.
  • You have a basic knowledge of different kinds of machinery and equipment systems.
  • You're comfortable working on all kinds of equipment.
  • Communication skills are a high priority. If you can't communicate what is going on or can't listen to others who have concerns or issues, you can't effectively do your job.

10. What Procedures Do You Follow Before Finalizing a Job?

Details are critical to the work of electricians, so be prepared to describe to an interviewer what you do to make sure that everything is correct with a project before you are ready to sign off on it as complete. For example, explain how you verify that things are working and what steps you take to make sure that every detail is as it should be.

Answers:

  1. You inspect all electrical components for any faults.
  2. You use testing devices to verify there are no system malfunctions and everything is working properly.
  3. You double-check all inspections before signing off on any test certificates or certificates of installation.

11. Tell Me About Your Work Experience.

Employers are looking for steady work employment and not short term assignments with big gaps between jobs. You should be prepared to explain any such gaps between work. Another piece of advice is to focus on work experience relevant to the position you are currently applying for as well as your most recent work history.

Answers:

  • You have worked at ABC (insert company name) for # of years (insert number) and have taken advantage of every training opportunity and certification program offered.
  • You have worked on (explain types of equipment and machinery and electrical systems).
  • You should mention any type of recognition or awards you've received for your work.
  • You should also mention any promotions you've earned.

12. Why Are You Leaving Your Current Job?

If you are currently employed and are seeking a job, then you will probably hear this question. Be honest, but be careful not to say anything that might indicate you may have problems getting along with your coworkers. Don't make negative comments about particular individuals or indicate personality problems with coworkers. Focus on work-related reasons for leaving.

Answer:

  • You no longer feel challenged in your current position.
  • You want to grow in your profession, but you don't feel there is a path for career growth.
  • You are looking for a better opportunity with a company that is growing.
  • You feel you have advanced as far as you can in your current position.

13. What Are Your Salary Expectations?

Be prepared to quote a realistic salary expectation for the position that you are applying for. Use your knowledge about the profession and the company to make a request that meets your needs while also being reasonable.

Answer:

  • My current salary is $ . I'm not looking for a lateral move, but one that will be higher pay with a better opportunity for growth in skills and pay.

14. How Would Your Past Boss or Coworkers Describe You?

Interviewers who ask this question want to get a sense of your thoughts on how people you have worked with in the past view you as a team member. Be prepared to list and describe a few of your key traits from the perspective of someone who has spent time working side-by-side with you. Include items specific to your job capabilities as well as your approach to work, such as whether you are a team player or prefer working independently and if you are hard working, loyal and tenacious when it comes to solving problems.

electrician coworkers

Potential answers:

  • Your boss would say you are diligent and don't give up when faced with a problem that needs to be solved.
  • Your boss would say you know how to meet the daily challenges of keeping a manufacturing plant running. When equipment and machines break down, you're very thorough in testing and finding the problems.
  • You are always very conscientious and ensure the safety of yourself and others while working.
  • You always double-check yourself before moving on to the next phase or problem.

15. Why Should We Hire You?

You'll find this question near the end of the interview. If you feel you have something special to offer that didn't get mentioned or prompted in the interview, then say it here. Avoid using cliched buzzwords like "hard-working," "fast learner" or "gets along well with others." Phrase your response in terms of what you can do for the employer, not how the job can benefit you. Use this question as your opportunity really to sell yourself to the hiring manager.

Answer possibilities:

  • You are qualified for the job.
  • Your skills are an ideal match for what they need for this position.
  • You have a solid background and work experience that will support you in the job requirements.
  • You're eager to learn new things and grow in your profession.

General Interview Advice

Answer each question honestly. If you need to take a few moments after the question to think about an answer before speaking, then do so. This way, your words will emerge more articulate than if you try to start speaking right when the question is completed. Try to come up with a few questions to ask during the interview. "What do you expect of new employees?" is a good one.

Interview Questions and Answers for Electrician Job Interview

You may want to conduct a mock interview using these questions and answers to ensure you're prepared for the interview. You did most of the work by applying for the job and sending in your resume. Now it's time to make a positive impression and close the deal by showing the prospective employer how well you know the job and how much you are willing to work.

Common Interview Questions for an Electrician