Automotive technicians are in short supply, but the people you hire for this position are critical to keeping your customers happy and repairs happening in a timely fashion. With an average of 67,700 yearly openings for auto techs projected for the next decade, filling these roles is top of mind for dealers across the country.
But you don’t want to hire just anyone — you want the right person to join your team. If you wrote a great automotive technician job description, you can expect plenty of applicants to start flowing in and interviews to start being set. As you navigate auto tech interviews, it’s important that you make sure you’re asking the right questions to accurately assess a candidate’s technical expertise, problem-solving abilities, and communication skills.
10 questions to ask in an auto tech interview
The answers you get to these questions are just as important as what you choose to ask in the interview. Here are 10 questions you should ask your next auto tech candidate.
1. Can you describe your experience as an automotive technician? How long have you been working in this field?
This question is straightforward and honestly hasn’t changed much since before the pandemic, as it’s another way to gather information on previous roles and technician experience. Of course, you’ll want to verify their responses with the references they give and by contacting previous employers to verify their time spent there.
2. Are you more experienced with specific makes or models?
You can learn more about what types of vehicles candidates have worked on in the past with this question. As a dealer, you need an auto tech who is familiar with the inner workings of the makes and models you sell. You wouldn’t want to hire someone who only knows how to repair foreign engines if you only sell Fords, after all. You can identify gaps in their knowledge with this question, which can also help you plan their onboarding and training.
3. Do you have any certifications or training relevant to automotive repair and maintenance?
With this question, you’re looking to see if the candidate has any ASE certifications. ASE certifications are regulated and issued by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence and require a long and rigorous process to acquire. You know that when a candidate is ASE certified that they’re not afraid to put in hard work and that they know what they’re doing in a repair bay. These certifications are the foundation for technicians to start their automotive careers.
4. How do you identify and troubleshoot problems? Can you walk me through your diagnostic process when dealing with a complex vehicle issue?
This question gives the candidate the opportunity to elaborate on how they approach common problems; ideally, the candidate will follow typical procedures to identify and troubleshoot vehicle issues. Once your hiring manager has heard their answer, they have the opportunity to correct any missteps in the candidate’s approach — especially if this is someone they want to convert to a hire.
5. How comfortable are you with diagnostic tools and equipment?
This is a pretty standard question for auto techs. It will ultimately show you how familiar a candidate is with scan tools, oscilloscopes, and multimeters that are used to diagnose vehicle problems.
6. How have you handled high-pressure situations in your previous roles, like handling multiple repair jobs simultaneously or dealing with difficult customers?
For your dealership’s hiring team, the candidate’s answer gives you a glimpse into how they handle themselves when they’re stressed. While it can be difficult to tell if the applicant is telling you the complete truth, there are physical and verbal tells that demonstrate if they are uncomfortable or already stressed during the interview itself, all of which can give you a clue as to how they’ll conduct themselves in high-pressure situations.
7. What preventative maintenance procedures do you think are essential for the long-term health and performance of a vehicle?
For auto techs, this should be an easy question to answer — no matter how experienced they are in the field. Prevention is everything when it comes to maintaining a vehicle’s long-term health and performance, and candidates should be able to tell you this. Be sure to look out for answers including regular oil changes, tire rotations, brake checks, and the like; these responses will be telling and can help your recruiters clue in on who really knows their stuff.
8. How do you stay up-to-date with the latest automotive technologies, repair methods, and safety regulations?
Just like car models improve over the years, so does the inner workings of these machines. You want to hire auto techs that stay up-to-date with the latest tech and repair methods, so you should ask about this during the interview. If you want to get granular, you can ask candidates if they can provide examples of recent training or learning experiences.
9. Please describe a particularly challenging repair or diagnostic problem you’ve encountered in your career. How did you approach and solve it?
This is another question you can ask to see how your auto tech candidates approach problems. Ideally, you want their answer to follow typical procedures to identify and troubleshoot vehicle issues. Once they realize it’s beyond their scope, or that they’ve never encountered this issue before, take note of how they seek to remedy the situation; are they comfortable asking others for input or do they try to solve it themselves? You can learn how the candidate chooses to operate, either by themselves or on a team, with their response to this question.
10. Can you give an example of a time when you had to explain technical information to a customer? How did you make sure they understood the issue and the repairs?
Communication is an important part of any job. While some auto technicians will not be required to speak directly with customers, this is a good question to ask because it can help your recruiting team see just how well the candidate understands the vehicles they’re working on. It has often been said that when you can explain something clearly to a child, then you truly understand a concept. In this case, if a technician can break down what they’ve done to a vehicle to remedy a problem, then it shows just how well they truly comprehend the machines they’re working on. Plus, if the tech does have to speak to a customer for whatever reason, knowing that they’ll be able to conduct themselves professionally and effectively is great peace of mind for dealers.
Auto technicians are in high demand, but your dealership needs to add the right people to your team for long-term success. Taking the time to analyze and refresh your interview questions can make all the difference when it comes to converting applicants into the newest members of your dealership staff.