How to Ace That HVAC Job Interview
Want to make the best impression possible on your next HVAC job interview? Then this blog post is for you!
At HVACExec.com, we have many years of experience successfully preparing candidates to take the next step in their careers. And, we love to share what we have learned. In fact, you may have seen the links on our website which we share with candidates prior to their interviews:
In this post, we examine 10 of the most commonly asked questions during HVAC job interviews. Read these and practice your answers. That will go a long way toward helping you ace the interview.
You may notice that none of these questions are very specific to the HVAC industry. That’s because these are the question that employers ask to get a handle on the intangible qualities you bring to the table. Often, it is these qualities that determine success within an organization as much as technical skills. You may also have an interview that focuses on your technical skills. But, in this post, we are focused on helping you ace the business skills interview.
A hiring manager will expect that you have heard these questions before and that you have considered your answers. Therefore, you need to answer them quickly, with in-depth responses that reflect a degree of thinking which other candidates may struggle to match. A word of caution don’t repeat memorized your answers. Regurgitating canned answers is transparent and will not help you land the job. You need to be able to listen to the questions, recall your standard answer, and customize your response to suit the circumstances and style of the interviewer. If you get stuck, don’t be afraid to ask questions. By asking for clarification, you demonstrate that you are listening carefully and providing a thoughtful answer.
So, even though you are going to need to ad-lib a little, your responses will be stronger and more coherent if you have practiced and know what to expect. You will have more confidence as well. Confidence shows and can have a huge impact on how you are perceived by the interviewer. Confidence will also help you to relax, present your best self, and maybe even enjoy the interview.
The Top 10 Interview Questions (and Answers)
The following sections examine the 10 most common interview questions. We discuss the question and how to best answer it. Of course, your answer needs to be specific to you, your personality, and your circumstances. But, we provide a framework to help you come up with the best answers for yourself.
Tell me about yourself.
Open-ended questions like this are popular lead-off questions. A variation on this one is “tell me about your experience”. The interviewer wants to accomplish two things with this question. First, they want to see how well you communicate. Second, they want to understand how your experience prepares you for the job. Feel free to start with some small talk about where you were born, your favorite pastimes, or your personality. As you are talking, make sure to pause and give your interviewer a chance to ask follow-up questions. Give them the opportunity to direct the conversation and lead you to the topics that need to be covered during the interview.
Once you are past the small talk, try to relate your personal experiences to the job you are interviewing before. For example, if you are interviewing for a sales position, and you are disciplined and organized, describe how those qualities help keep you focused on achieving a quota. Alternatively, if you are spontaneous and creative, describe how those qualities help you connect with prospective customers, brainstorm solutions with them, and close deals.
If you are nervous, give your self some structure by using a chronological approach to answering this question. But, start with the present. Describe your current situation briefly. Then, go to the past, and describe how you got to where you are. End by describing your plans for the future and talk about how the job you are interviewing for fits into your plans.
Why should we hire you?
Have a short and compelling answer to this question. This is not the time to go through the job description line by line and explain how you meet each of the criteria for the job. Study the job description and internalize the essence of what the job is about. Picture yourself being successful at the job. Then ask yourself, what am I doing as I imagine being successful? That’s your answer. You might be applying skills you learned at a previous job where you excelled. You might be leveraging industry contacts that you’ve cultivated over many years.
However you answer, expect this question. Practice your answer. There is no reason not to crush this one because you know it is coming.
What is your greatest strength?
Answer this question as it relates to the job you are interviewing for. It is an HVAC position, so don’t describe cooking at your greatest strength! Pick an attribute like determination, problem solving, mentoring, and explain how it would help you in the new position. Remember to illustrate the strength, and not just tell the interviewer about it. For example, don’t just say, “I’m a great air conditioning installer.” Illustrate the truth of that assertion by giving an example of a particularly difficult installation that you handled. Describe how it impacted the company you were working for. If you can talk about how a client benefited and how your skills built a relationship that led to ongoing business, that is optimal.
What is your greatest weakness?
This is a tough one, but it is very common. Avoid being too cute and simply describe a strength in the guise of a weakness. For example, don’t say things like “I work too hard” or “I care too much about clients”. Your interviewer will see right through that kind of answer. You need to pick a genuine weakness and talk about how you overcame it to achieve success. We all have weaknesses. What the interviewer is doing with this question is asking you to explain how you manage one of yours.
A good answer here is to describe a skill that you have acquired to overcome a weakness. For example, if you are applying for a sales position, you might say that you are an introvert something that is not usually associated with a successful sales person. But you can go on to explain that being an introvert forced you to prepare extensively for sales calls, so that you would know everything about the potential client and have plenty of material for conversation. You could go own to explain how you turned developed preparation into a well-defined selling strategy that you taught to others in your previous position, helping your entire team to meet their quota.
Why are you leaving or why have you left your job?
This question is inevitable. And you must answer it truthfully, because the HVAC industry is a relatively small community, and your prospective employer can probably easily verify your answer. If your departure wasn’t amicable, you can simply explain that you mutually determined that it wasn’t a great fit. Explain what you learned from the experience and describe how you may have benefited from it.
On the other hand, if you haven’t left yet, or haven’t told your current employer that you are interviewing, make sure to communicate that fact. You don’t want them calling for a background check before you’ve had the chance to make your own announcement. In this situation, you can describe how you are looking for bigger challenges, a broader role, or a change in direction. Whatever the case, make sure that you relate it to the job you are interviewing for. You might indicate that the new job involves managing a team, something that your current employer cannot offer you at this time.
Whatever you say, do not bad-mouth previous employers. Ever. Be magnanimous, complimentary, or say nothing. Nobody wants to hire a disgruntled employee who complains about their former employer.
What are your salary expectations?
Be careful how you answer this one. Unless you really do have a number that’s important to hit and you know they can afford it. Usually, the best approach is to say that compensation isn’t the only factor that you are considering. Then tell them what your current compensation is and describe how you don’t want to take anything less and are hoping to move up to a number that is more in-line with your experience and skills. Remember, this is the beginning of a negotiation. If you shoot too high, you may never get to continue the negotiation. Likewise, if you shoot too low, you may find it impossible to reach your goal.
If you can, talk with your network to see if you can figure out what the company pays for the role that you are interviewing for. That’s not always possible, especially for younger people without a lot of experience in the HVAC industry. But, if you can learn something about the pay scale and benefits, that is helpful information. It enables you to make sure that your expectations are reasonable, so you don’t waste your time.
Why do you want this job?
Answering this question requires that you first understand exactly what the job is about. It also helps if you know about the company. Do your research, so that you can provide an answer that ties your skills and expertise in with the role. What this question is really asking is, “Why are you well suited to this job?” So, make sure you answer that question and don’t just talk about what you are going to get out of the position. Employers what to hire people who can help their company. They are less interested in your personal details.
How do you handle stress and pressure?
You may or may not get this question. Although there is a greater awareness of stress and the importance of managing it, so enlightened companies will often want to know what works for you. The best answer is to describe a stressful work situation and how you successfully managed it.
Whatever you do, do not give a flip answer like “I don’t get stressed out”. First, that kind of answer is not believable. Everybody experiences stress. Second, your prospective employer is asking this question for a serious reason. They’ve probably invested in new employees before, only to find that certain aspects of the job were too stressful, and the new employees had to leave. Turnover is expensive for employers, and they ask this question to try to avoid some turnover.
This is a good opportunity for you to ask questions as well. You may want to ask what others have found stressful about this job. You can then build on the answer, describing how you deal with stress of the type described.
Describe a difficult work situation or project and how you overcame it.
This is similar to the stress question, perhaps even a follow-up. They are trying to understand how resilient you are. Take the question at face value and describe a difficult situation you found yourself in. Explain why it was difficult for you, and describe how you overcame it, and how you think you grew, professionally, in the process.
Again, resist the temptation to bad-mouth a previous employer. It may be tempting to explain that your manager was an idiot, and you were constantly bailing them out of difficult situations they created. But, avoid going there. Try not to lay blame, but simply describe a challenge you faced and how you needed to grow in order to overcome it.
What are your goals for the future?
This question is basically asking you how long you plan to work at the company, or will you hop to another job as soon as a better opportunity comes along. A safe answer is to say that you want to develop professionally, and that you believe the company you are interviewing with offers an appealing career path. Answer this question in terms of the company you are interviewing with. Interpret it as asking “What are your goals for the future at our company?”.
Questions to Ask the Interviewer
At some point, usually toward the end of the interview, you will be asked if you have any questions. You must have some interesting questions to ask. Questions that indicate you have thought about the job and the company. If you don’t have good questions, then you will appear uninterested.
Prepare a list of questions before you go to the interview. You can put these questions together by researching the company and the specific job you are interviewing for. If the company is public, you can read the annual report, learn about management’s top priorities, and ask questions about these priorities.
If the company is not public, you can still find lots of great information on the internet. Of course, review the company website. Also, look at their social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn,etc.). Visit review websites like Glassdoor.
If you are not clear on the next steps in the interview process make sure that you ask about these. “When will I hear from you?” or “What are the next steps in your job interviewing process?” are great questions to wrap up with.
Lastly, don’t forget to thank your interviewer. Make sure that they understand how to be part of a team by acting the part from the beginning. Complement them, saying something like, “I’ve learned so much by talking with you. Thanks for your time today.” Small things can go a long way toward helping you ace the interview.