Working as a mechanical technician, you will mostly diagnose and deal with faults on mechanical devices & machinery. To be honest, it doesn’t say that much about the job, since I’ve seen the position advertised by car repair shops, transport companies, manufacturing businesses, and also big automotive corporations, to name just a few.

What I try to say here is that mechanical technician is a rather general job title, and what exactly you will do–and what questions you will face in the interviews, depends a lot on your future place of work and duties. As you can imagine, and interview in a small car repair shop with five employees will be completely different than an interview in a big automotive corporation.

In this article though we will look at questions you may face in all places, plus some questions you will face mostly in corporate setting. You may skip the second group if you apply for a job of a mechanical technician in some small business, since people running these places won’t ask you such questions. Anyway, enjoy your reading and hopefully you will leave this page feeling prepared for your interview :).

 

Why do you want to work as a mechanical technician? (Why did you apply for this job?)

Unless they start with the icebreaker “Tell me about yourself” question, they will start with the question about your motivation. That means why you want the job, why you decided to apply, why mechanical technician and not another job field, etc. The key is to show your passion for this type of work, saying that you enjoy identifying and repairing defects, that you have this inner technician in you and time simply flies by once you are immersed in your favorite work.

I also suggest you to say something about their field, their specialization–be it cars, water pumps, robotics, musical instruments, whatever. As I said, all kinds of organizations advertise the position of a mechanical technician. It is important explaining your preferences for this or that type of machinery/products. Perhaps you have experience with similar repairs, passion for this type of products, or you see a bright future for the field, and hence decided to apply. One way or another, they should get an impression that you really want the job with them, and this isn’t just another random interview you go to, trying your luck and hoping for a good outcome :).

 

Tell us about three latest mechanical defects you repaired.

Everyone can say they can do the job. Once you ask them to narrate the latest defect they had to address, however, many people will remain silent. It cannot happen to you if you want to succeed in the interviews. Think about the latest defects you identified and addressed, be it at work or at your home. I can give you a few suggestions here:

  • The more difficult the defect the better. Companies of all sizes want to hire skilled technicians. (Almost) everyone can change the light bulb, but a few people can successfully troubleshoot a water pump, for example. Having said that, make sure you can describe the process of repairing the thing. If you did something but cannot explain how or why, you will sound silly in the interviews.
  • Pick defects on machinery/tools related to the job you try to get. As an example, if you apply for a mechanical technician job in a car repair shop, it is best talking about repairs you did on cars or other vehicles.
  • Avoid excessive terminology, try to speak in a simple way. The person leading the interview with you may not be a technician. It can be some HR person or some manager who cannot even change the light bulb on their own :). Unless you are certain about technical skills of your interviewer, you should explain your repair in a way a child would understand. Alternatively you can pause in your description after every few sentences and ask the interviewer whether it is clear for them, whether they understand what you are talking about.

 

Here is a problem. Tell us how you would troubleshoot it as a mechanical technician.

This was by far my favorite way of testing any technical skill of job applicants, back in the day when I was leading interviews. You give them a problem, or even a broken machine!, and ask them to solve or repair it. Now the talkers are done and you will be left with the real technicians only. Obviously it allows the hiring manager to observe how quickly you work, if you have a system in what you do, etc. Let me give you a few suggestions again:

  • Do not hesitate to ask additional questions. Maybe you haven’t dealt with exactly such a defect/problem in the past. But you have your technical skills, and once you understand the issue better, you should be able to come up with some sensible ideas at least.
  • Try to work/think fast but do not panic. Almost every workplace is fast-paced nowadays. Car repair shops are as busy as ever, and in a factory setting a single minute of the so called “stopline”, meaning that the production process is stopped due to some defect, can cost the factory tens of thousands of dollars. That’s why you should put some emphasis on solving the problem quickly, repairing the defect as soon as possible. At the same time though, you should not panic. Show them that you have some system in your work, and know what you are doing…

 

Are you willing to work overtime, night shifts, etc?

Whether you will have to work overtime or weekends or whatever depends on your place of work. However, machines can break anytime, and as I described before any extra hour can prove costly for your employer. Hence you should show some willingness of going an extra mile, and for example stay overtime when repairing some important defect.

As a rule of thumb, when the interviewers inquire about your willingness to do something, it means it will be required in the job. The question would not make much sense otherwise... Obviously you have your life outside of work (at least I hope so) and won’t be in the work 24/7. But it is important to show your willingness to do something extra for your employer once in a while, something outside your comfort zone.

Tell us about a time when you failed to repair something.

Talking about failures is always more difficult than talking about successes. Technicians with big egos cannot do that and will claim it never happened to them, but trust me that is a really bad interview answer. Even the biggest brains and geniuses hit the roadblock sometimes. They have to consult someone with more experience, try new methods, or even call it a day and say the thing cannot be repaired (and should be replaced instead). And that’s exactly the attitude the hiring managers want to hear from you.

Ensure them that you can admit making a mistake, or failing to repair something. Now it doesn’t necessarily have to be a “Nobel Prize problem or defect”. Maybe you just didn’t have your best day, or it was a device or machine new to you, and you failed to repair it. Instead of protecting your ego and hiding with your failure, you reached out to other people from the field, trying to find the answers and professional help. Perhaps it solved the problem and if not, you called the problem unsolvable, and vouch for replacement of the defected device/machine/part.

 

Other questions you may face in your mechanical technician job interview

  • What are your strengths and weaknesses as a technician?
  • How do you feel about instructing your colleagues at work when it comes to proper handling and maintenance of the machinery?
  • What is your desired salary?
  • It can happen sometimes that you have “nothing to do” in the job, meaning there’s nothing to repair. What will you do then? How will you use the time?
  • Conflicts belong to every workplace. Tell us about a conflict you had with someone in your last job.
  • What does quality mean to you?
  • Tell us about a time when you struggled to communicate something (for example something highly technical) to someone.
  • Why should we hire you, and not one of the other applicants for this job?

 

Final thoughts

Interview for a job of a mechanical technician belongs to tricky interviews. Questions may change a lot, depending on your future place of work and the person leading the interviews. What’s more, they may ask you to repair some mechanical defect directly in the interviews, which can be stressful for many people.

On the flip side, most young people still dream of working as lawyers, managers, bankers, architects, and whatever. Hence you won’t face such a tough competition in your interview, and in some cases you may compete just with one or two other people for the job. That’s obviously easier than competing with dozens, which is often the case with any management/marketing jobs…

Make sure you learn as much as possible about your future employer, and the types of machines you will be responsible for. As long as you do so and prepare for the questions following this article, you should do well, and succeed. I wish you best of luck!

Matthew

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Matthew Chulaw
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