Tuesday, April 10, 2012
The Successful Interview
Spring is the time that many HVACR firms start looking for help. Happily, this coincides with students graduating from colleges and trade schools looking for jobs. Now would be a good time for anyone who will soon be in the job market to think about the reasons someone should hire you. Remember, nobody but your mother will hire you just to give you a regular income or make sure you have health insurance. They hire you because you can solve problems, make money, or both. So ask yourself, “What can I do for my future employer?” Some little things can be important, such as showing up every day on time, being pleasant to work with, and applying yourself to the task at hand. However, none of these things separate you from the long line of applicants with no particular training. If you are just graduating from school, you have demonstrated the ability and desire to learn about HVACR. If you have taken any third party certifications, you have demonstrated some command of the terminology and concepts involved in HVACR. Both of these effectively separate you from the unskilled crowd. Speaking of certifications, you should not even consider applying for a job until you have taken and passed the EPA Certification. Having it will not land you a great job, but NOT having it can keep an employer from hiring you. Without the EPA certification you cannot legally do much besides manual labor – effectively putting you back into competition with the unskilled crowd. You should be prepared to demonstrate your knowledge. Many employers give tests. One told me that he asks any prospective employee to draw a basic refrigeration cycle, label the components, and describe the refrigerant states in each part of the system. If they can’t, the interview is over. You should also be able to confidently explain how to use a PT Chart and measure superheat and subcooling. On the electrical side, you should be able to read a schematic and recognize common electrical symbols. You should be able to check common electrical components with an ohm meter and wire a basic circuit. Your personality during the interview process is essential. You should be positive with a can-do attitude. HVACR involves a lot of interaction with people. One employer told me that the first impression he got of the person interviewing was the way he imagined they would look to his customers as well. If he did not like what he saw or heard, there was really no chance the person would be hired. Now is not the time to be shy or humble. The interview is your opportunity to convince the employer that you can perform. Don’t try to pretend you can do things that you can’t do, but don’t expect the interviewer to discover how wonderful you are completely on their own. If you wait for the world to discover how great you are, you might be waiting a while. It is a harsh fact of life that the employer is only considering what you can do for them. It is up to you to show them.