How to Hire Your Next Service Electrician: It’s similar to hiring a pastry chef

Published On
Feb 15, 2022

Despite the many ways the soft and hard skills that service electricians must possess are so critical to the success of a service-delivery organization, sometimes electrical contractors do precious little to screen candidates for the kinds of prerequisites needed for success as a service and maintenance electrician.

One evening, as we were seated in a comfy booth enjoying the luxury of being guests in an expensive restaurant, our after-dinner conversation drifted into “talking shop” about the perennial challenges of finding capable service and maintenance electricians. As we opened the fancy cover of the dessert menu, we speculated on the notion that there might be some transferable knowledge we could gain from the way upscale eateries go about the process of recruiting, screening, selecting and hiring a new pastry chef.

We knew that great service and maintenance electricians are always hard to find. We were confident that the same degree of difficulty applied to hiring a pastry chef.

Since our hosts were business associates and long-time personal friends, we took liberties with their hospitality and asked the waiter if the pastry chef could visit our table.

(There’s no limit to the level of chutzpah that you can muster as the guest of generous hosts who are regulars in the expensive restaurant where you are seated.)

Out of the kitchen came the pastry chef—in this case, the head pastry chef—ready to answer our call.

At first, he was concerned that we had a complaint about something we ordered for dessert. We assured him of our interest and that, to the best of our recollection, we had never complained about a dessert selection in even the worst restaurants we had visited.

His initial concern, however, led him to recalling that one of the questions he had fielded in at least two job interviews for pastry chef positions was how he would handle complaints from customers about dessert items they were served. We were not at all surprised at his explanation for how he responded to the interviewers.

Later, when we were in the process of enumerating all the parallels that we never expected to find in comparing the circumstances of service and maintenance electricians with pastry chefs, we returned more than once to the subject of handling customers’ complaints and criticisms. We knew plenty of war stories about ways in which service and maintenance electricians had mishandled such situations, particularly when the customers’ comments were completely inaccurate or borderline untrue.

The pastry chef impressed us in several ways, but mostly through his attentiveness. He spoke well and listened even better.

We have always rated listening skills as more important than anything else in salespeople’s toolkits. Here before us was a pastry chef, whose promotional skills showed through as a reminder of everyone’s obligation to always be a “salesman” for their organization. Of course, we were back to thinking about service and maintenance electricians as we dwelt on that proverb.

The chef seemed to be in no hurry to leave our table. During his stay we covered a long list of subjects. Understanding that we were interested in drawing parallels between his work and electrical service and maintenance, he supplied us with several matching pieces.

He pointed out that, in culinary school, the first block of instruction exhaustively covered every aspect of kitchen sanitation. That quickly led us to the subject of electricians’ housekeeping for workplace safety and appearance in general.

When he mentioned “mise en place”—advanced preparation in the kitchen of ingredients before every meal—we told him that sounded like French for “prefab.” Smiling at that suggestion, he recalled for our benefit that each time he had interviewed for a pastry chef position, along with providing a photo album of his past creations, he had to prepare sample desserts in the restaurant’s kitchen for display and tasting.

To boot, just like an electrician interviewing for a new job, he had to demonstrate that he could lift 50 pounds.

The chef’s table-side visit provided us with some great takeaways—including some tasty miniature samples of his artistry.

About the Author

Andrew McCoy

Service and Maintenance Contributor

Andrew McCoy is professor in the Dept. of Building Construction, associate director of the Myers-Lawson School of Construction and director of the Virginia Center for Housing Research at Virginia Tech. Contact him at apmccoy@vt.edu.

About the Author

Fred Sargent

Service and Maintenance Contributor

Fred Sargent is president of Great Service Forums, a network of electrical contractors focused on business development and profitable growth of their service & maintenance business. fred@greatserviceforums.com.

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