# Practical aids for interviewing electrical maintenance apprentice

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#### dr pepper

##### Well-Known Member
So the boss tells me we are having an apprentoid.
And wants me to put togther some practical electrical gizmos for use during interviews, just a few electrical blocks, switches, leds, maybe a diode etc.
Bear in mind that this is for a non electronic person, we are looking for an industrial electrcian with some mechanical capability.
I put togther some electrical 'blocks', led's, switches, a diode and a light/dark switch using some odd bits of wood on my wifes woodturning lathe.
Now I have this I'm wondering how to present this stuff during the interview, should I just say heres some modules, battery, switch, led, now make me a circuit or should I hand them a drawing as well, and if so would it be a standard schematic or pictures of the actual modules with interconnects shown.
These lads/lasses will be school leavers not college kids, I'm not sure these days how much knowledge they pick up from school.
The general idea is to see if they have any kind of understanding of electrical stuff, and to see how they react with assembling something.

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##### Well-Known Member
Ideally you want someone who already has an interest in this field, IOW someone who has been tinkering on his own with some kind of electrical/electronic gadget, some one who already has shown some initiative in pursuing an interest in Mechatronics etc.
With some luck you might find him/her.
I always found it hard to get those square pins in those round holes.
Max.

#### dr pepper

##### Well-Known Member
Yes thats the reason I went to this degree, a good way to find someone who's interested in this stuff is to present them with something to put together.
It doesnt really apply to youngun's, however I have come across more than one 'skilled' person who could talk a good job, but in practice wasnt that great.

#### tcmtech

##### Banned
Once at an interview I was handed a schematic and a picture of the machine it related to and asked what I could tell about it to the person doing the interview.

I pointed out one schematical error and a labeling typo on the schematic and then took a look at the picture and pointed out several things I felt were odd or not built right to which the interviewer repled, "Oh yea. I never caught that." and, "Hey. I designed that machine."

I didn't get the job. I was overqualified.

Apparently I was suposed to just deduce what the machine did from the two items and not also pick them apart for faults.

#### dr pepper

##### Well-Known Member
I have interviewed for skilled personnel before and I think I'd take the same view on that one.
In the past I've had apprentices, good and bad, and I want to make sure I get a good one this time, what I do is difficult enough without having a numpty follow me round.

#### tcmtech

##### Banned
I have interviewed for skilled personnel before and I think I'd take the same view on that one.
In the past I've had apprentices, good and bad, and I want to make sure I get a good one this time, what I do is difficult enough without having a numpty follow me round.

I have found it interesting that companies say they want skilled effective workers yet a quick look around at their workforce and related hiring practices clear says otherwise. Most of my experiences with being around the hiring process at places I have worked at was that those who were in charge said they wanted high caliber employees yet during resume reviews anyone who even just on paper appeared that they just might have more aptitude and skill than they had themselves was 'overqualified for the job'.

When I was in the oil fields I was surprised at how many people I met and came to work with that had played themselves way down just in case the company we were working for turned out to have a bunch of half wits more interested in protecting their own jobs than they were in making the best company and crews possible. running things. Finding out we were working for a company that actually did put some degree of pride into the quality and capability of their workforce was a pleasant surprise for many of us.

Personally if I ever have to hire anyone I think the schematic and picture question is a pretty good indicator of their experience and skillsets. If a guy can not only tell me what the machine does from the two items but pick out a schematic error I missed and point out some aspect of a machine that I cobbled together they are hired!

#### dr pepper

##### Well-Known Member
Sometimes I think in the uk companies hire people people because they have the talk.
Probably because they wouldnt recognize a good engineer if one fell on them from a height.
Good engineers seem to be a thing of the past too.

#### tcmtech

##### Banned
Believe me. It's not just a UK thing.

#### ClydeCrashKop

##### Well-Known Member
yet during resume reviews anyone who even just on paper appeared that they just might have more aptitude and skill than they had themselves was 'overqualified for the job'.
Ha Ha

I worked with a service manager one time that said he hadn't taken a vacation in 10 years.
He was afraid they would find out that they didn't need him!

I was talking with a boss about another service manager that I didn't think much of. The boss said Norman is a pretty fair mechanic himself.
I said yeah, I've heard him say that.

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##### Well-Known Member
Some decades ago when I left the UK, there was a dearth of Electrical Technicians, i.e. someone between the tradesman and the engineer, I recall at that time Siemens setting up special training schools in order to solve this dilemma.
When I finished my training in the UK many of my buddies were getting telegrams from US companies trying to poach them by offering well paid jobs due to the high standard of UK trade training at that time.
Not sure what it is like now.
Max.

#### dr pepper

##### Well-Known Member
If anyone in the US wants to offer me an engineering job please do, I'll be there in a flash, this place is going bad.

Anyway we now have an apprentoid, I have made my selection.

I asked them all to wire up a simple battery/switch/bulb circuit, 2 out of the 3 wired the switch directly across the battery shorting it out, one even argued the circuit must be right as the switch turned the bulb on and off, I told him if he tried that with one of our 500kw drives there would be a large bang.

Incidentally the one who got the position was one of the ones that shorted the battery, however the next few circuits I had him do were all right, so I think nerves were getting him, these are only young lads.

That said none of them had what I would refer to as a 'spark', however the lad we offered it to does have a degree of confidence and has demonstrated that he wants to be in engineering unlike the others, so I think I made the right choice, if I didnt I'll have a pain on the butt for the next 4 - 5 years.

Incidentally the training rig I made was invaluable, and I got appreciation from upper management for my efforts making the jig and getting involved with the interviews.

##### Well-Known Member
Bear in mind that this is for a non electronic person, we are looking for an industrial electrcian with some mechanical capability.

When interviewing for a facilities engineering type with a strong background in electrical distribution I would just walk the candidates through the sub and ask them what things were? We brought in three phase delta and I wanted people who understood 25 KV and three phase distribution. Also people familiar with the sensors and monitoring used in sub stations. If I was looking for a control rod technician electronic modular little kits may have been viable but not for facilities electrical engineering.

Ron

#### dr pepper

##### Well-Known Member
I did to an extent, I did show them around the plant, however I didnt want to drag young lads totally unaware of production environments around a very busy shop floor with machines running, and overhead cranes / fork lifts whizzing about, I walked them round and stayed to the marked 'safe' path.
Anyway you were talking about skilled men, I'm dealing with young lads who've just left school, I dont expect them to know owt, its aptitude and other 'engineer' properties I was looking for.
I got the best of the bunch anyways, my employer doesnt want to wait any longer and they have been told not wanting to wait may affect the suitability of any candidates and they have accepted that so its on their head.

##### Well-Known Member
I did to an extent, I did show them around the plant, however I didnt want to drag young lads totally unaware of production environments around a very busy shop floor with machines running, and overhead cranes / fork lifts whizzing about, I walked them round and stayed to the marked 'safe' path.

I just hand them safety glasses and tell them to remain inside the yellow lines.

Seriously, I guess it depends on the position. During my working years I was involved with the manufacture and test of a unique product so while facilities engineering was about the same we did have a few unique things. When hiring for engineering positions it was more a matter of finding people who could learn and understand the product with some time.

Ron

#### dr pepper

##### Well-Known Member
There isnt anything unique about lids for chinese takeaways and cornflakes boxes I'm afraid.
I have always kept engineering and product seperate, the product is for operators and quality to worry about, its only my problem when somethings up with the equipment.
Know what you mean though.
I hope our new yungun realizes he has a good opportunity to learn a usefull trade, I dont think manufacturing has much of a future in the Uk, however an engineering apprenticeship I think is a good thing, from experience being 'on the tools' is a good grounding for any adult.

#### tcmtech

##### Banned
I hope you don't teach him too much. You could inflict the curse of being 'overqualified' on the poor guy for life.

My first real job I got was a student co-op work study apprenticeship that ran for 9 months at a local mining operation that fed a power plant a coal gasification plant. I cut my teeth there and learned three phase and high powered electrical systems along with PLC and other control systems as well which was supposed to open up my carreer opportunities for me.

What it left me was 'overqualified' for the next decade to get any other related electrical and electrician jobs afterwards.

The closest thing I was able to get after that was a office copier repair tech job that lasted for about 2 1/2 years until the company landed a $250,000 all travel and material costs covered by the copier corporation service contract with the local air base. I got put in charge of that contract and got a 13 cent an hour raise for it. The copier corp was reimbursing the company I worked for at$60 an hour and I was getting \$8.42 of it.

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#### dr pepper

##### Well-Known Member
My boss and employer has no idea of my electronics and microcontroller / pc capabilities, I kept that a secret or I would have not got a job fixing smelly old heavy paper machinery, I have been classed as a 'white coat' before, I'm not.
It was a bit of a surprise a couple of years after starting that I can fix fork lifts and mobile plant.

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