5 Hiring Mistakes Field Service Business Owners Make

5 Hiring Mistakes Field Service Business Owners Make

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Posted by EJ Brown

October 10, 2018

Hiring field service technicians comes with a whole new set of challenges.

If you’re having a hard time finding and hiring talented technicians, you’re not the only one. According to a survey from the Service Council, 32% of field service businesses are grappling with a talent shortage – and that statistic is expected to rise to 71% over the next decade.

A survey by Aberdeen found that only 59% of service businesses were meeting their employee turnover goals. That means the other 41% are struggling to hang onto their field service technicians.

The unfortunate lesson here?

Hiring great people

– and keeping them on board – can be hard enough without shooting yourself in the foot.

If you want to hire talented techs who will stick around and perform up to your standard, avoid the common hiring mistakes discussed below.

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5 Mistakes that Kill Your Chances of Hiring Great Field Service Techs

1. Hiring someone just because they’re family

It’s one thing to hire your family member if they’re a talented professional in your field. It’s something else entirely to hire a relative solely 


 they’re related to you.

Whether they’re your second cousin, sibling, or in-law, hiring family members can complicate your workplace situation and strain your relationship in ways you might not expect.

For instance, family members might feel entitled to special privileges, like the best shifts or more frequent raises. This sense of entitlement can create tension among the team and resentment from your other employees.

Another concern is that, if you hire a family member who turns out to be under-qualified or a poor fit for your business, firing or reprimanding them can lead to a ton of avoidable drama. As a general rule, you should only hire people who you would be willing to fire if necessary.

If you 


 decide to hire a relative despite these risks, set clear expectations from day one.  Communicate that their job security is dependent entirely on their performance and has nothing to do with their blood relation to you.

2. Using a generic job description

If you don’t clearly explain the job requirements and duties in your listing, you won’t attract the right type of candidates.

So, if you're hiring for an HVAC company, instead of copying and pasting an

HVAC job description template

, take the time to think about what skills are necessities vs. which are simply nice to have by looking at what other companies may have posted on sites like


. This will help you be as specific as possible when outlining desired experience, knowledge, and qualifications.

If you want to go a step further, consider that adding a personal touch is more likely to resonate with potential candidates and get top field techs excited to work with you. You should include a few details about your business and the types of customers you serve. This will encourage top candidates to apply as well as incentivize them to put more effort into their applications, so you get a better sense of what they have to offer.

3. Skipping over the technical test

Just because a job candidate looks great on paper, doesn’t necessarily mean they know what they’re talking about. Sooner or later you’ll run into a candidate that has trouble applying their knowledge in practice or pads their resume with skills they don’t actually have.

The good news is that a simple written or on-site skills test can give you a clear picture of someone’s actual skill set and abilities.

A technical test can also help you narrow down the pool of applicants in two ways: only those who are serious about working for you will bother to take the test 


 the results will allow you to identify the most qualified applicant.

This is a crucial part of the hiring process for field technicians, especially if you don’t have the time or resources to provide on-the-job training before sending a new technician out on their first job.

4. Focusing only on technical skills

Technical know-how and experience are likely at the top of your wish list for new field service techs. But here’s the thing: with the right candidate, technical skills can be taught and improved with time. However, someone’s personality traits, soft skills, and willingness to learn are unlikely to change.

So, if you have the time to train and mentor a novice technician, you should weigh their hard skills (like industry knowledge and specific technical abilities) against their soft skills (like communication, empathy, and ability to think on their feet). Most importantly, never ignore red flags because you’re smitten with a candidate’s skill set.

Remember, whoever you end up hiring is going to represent your business when interacting with clients. The way they handle themselves, the level of service they provide, and the quality of their work will all reflect directly on your business and your livelihood.

5. Overlooking the value of culture fit

Culture fit is one of the most important indicators of

employee satisfaction

and loyalty.

And since recruiting technicians can be quite time consuming, the longer a new hire stays with your business, the better your return on investment.

Not to mention that it can be difficult for everyone if you hire technicians who clash with your existing team members. Even if your techs typically work independently, it’s crucial that their approach and work ethic align with your expectations. Someone who respects their coworkers is more likely to stick around for the long haul, even if your business is going through a rough patch or dealing with an unexpected rush.

Hiring and Interview Advice From The Experts

Common hiring mistakes for business owners:

"One of the common hiring mistakes I often see is not getting enough input from team members within the same department. Current team members often have a better grasp of the daily duties and technical specifics that the job will require. It is important to do more than just talk when interviewing new technicians. Presentations, hands-on demonstrations, or specific tests can often tell you more about the unique skills of the individual. Sometimes, it is a mistake to only talk about skills, education, and past experience. It is also important to discuss real life situations that the candidate will most likely encounter if she or he gets the position. How would he or she handle it?"

- Jason Mattox, Associate Vice President and Academic Division Head of

Northeast Mississippi Community College

"The biggest hiring mistake I see is when the employer is so desperate to fill the position that he or she refuses to spend any time in the interview process. Most candidates can get through a 15 or 30 minutes interview process and say or do exactly what is expected. Truthfully, it takes much longer to actually get to know the candidate than a 15 minutes conversation.

Another common mistake is not assessing the candidates prior to hiring them. Skill assessments are quite common, but the missing piece is the more critical behavioral assessments. Cultural fit is more important than ever today and without understanding the why behind someone's behavior, it will be difficult to make sure they are set up for success on the team.

I've also noticed that another common hiring mistake is hiring too fast. All employers should "hire slow and fire quick". Employers often times do the opposite and it will take them too long to dismiss a bad hire. This is especially critical in field services where a poor performer is more difficult to manage or even spot".

- Ryan Englin, CEO of

Core Matters, LLC

Common interview mistakes for job seekers:

"One huge mistake that job seekers should avoid is not being punctual. If you are late to the interview, then you probably will be late to work. Another mistake is not researching the applied position or the company you are applying to. If you're really interested in working for the company, then you should do your homework and research the company before showing up to the interview. It is also important to not bring negative energy into an interview. Why not greet your future boss with a smile and be as personable as possible? Above all, do not badmouth prior employers or positions."

- Jason Mattox, Associate Vice President and Academic Division Head of

Northeast Mississippi Community College

"Assuming that the employer is not questioning your work ethic, work history, or skills based on the quality of your application is a mistake that job seekers tend to make. Take the time to present your best self. Fill in gaps in employment with real explanations, show up on time to the interview, do not cancel the first interview and respond to inquiries in a timely manner are all equally important.

Another common mistake that job seekers make is not getting to know the company first. Most employers like to hire people that are genuinely interested in the company, work, and culture. Take some time to learn about the company and read up on the company online through news coverage or press that they may have received. By far, the biggest interview mistakes I see is not showing up to the interview, not being prepared, or simply being late to the interview. "

- Ryan Englin, CEO of

Core Matters, LLC

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