Interview Questions to Ask Service Manager Candidates

Published: May 20, 2020

Pro AV has a big hiring problem, so we’ve decided to do what we can to help audio visual firms find their next great employees by identifying the best audio video interview questions to ask candidates. In this edition, we’re focusing on what interview questions to ask service manager candidates.

As Lionel Felix, CEO of Felix Media Solutions, says: it takes a very specific personality to be a great audio visual service delivery manager.

“When hiring a service manager I want a drill sergeant with a big big smile. A service manager has to be an air-traffic controller that thrives in an intense environment and enjoys pressure. They should find their flow state in the movement of tickets, the phone calls, the sending of people out to solve issues and be completely obsessed with happy customers.

“I would 100% hire a rock star hotel manager from Starwood over some broody old white dude that runs service like a plumbing shop.”

Two kinds of service managers

Jeff Ashachik, VP of recruiting at audio visual recruiting company HireSparks, classifies the role into two types:

  • the experienced, design-capable person, someone who is very proactive
  • the less-experienced, business-capable person who is more reactive

Depending on your firm’s needs, you may need one, the other, or both of these personalities. But critically, the former person will cost more to hire, while the latter should be hired for less, given relative experience levels.

Interview questions for service manager candidates

First thing you look at: are they CTS? If not…

“You’ve been in the industry for how many years…why didn’t you get your CTS?”

Do they make excuses? You don’t want to hear, “oh, my company never put me through it.” Did they try to pursue other forms of independent licensing or training? Look for someone who invests in themselves and their own development.

If they are CTS, why not CTS-D? etc.

Did you ever have to fire someone, and if so, how did that go?

“I would 100% hire a rockstar hotel manager from Starwood over some broody old white dude that runs service like a plumbing shop.” — Lionel Felix

Compassion, but with a degree of realism. Those are two important traits to look for in this answer.

Have you ever worked with an as-a-service business model?

If your firm isn’t already looking for service contracts, perhaps this person can help forge the way to them.

What have you implemented to make a company more efficient?

So you’ve already established what they’ve done to better themselves. But have they ever instituted any efficiency initiatives at their workplace(s)?

What is your preferred method of organizing tasks?

Listen for mentions of Agile, Trello, or any means of good organization and a commitment to meeting goals on time or early.

Of the projects you begin, what percent are completed, what percent die on the vine, and what percent fail to launch at all?

Realistic answers are fine, as long as the person doesn’t make you feel as though they are always a “victim of circumstance.” Yes, sometimes unexpected things happen that they cannot help, but can they pivot the situation?

Critically: do they “delight” you?

Felix told us that he and his wife always return to the same hotel for their vacations for one important reason:

“We go there because they have so much give-a-crap it’s mind-bending. I feel so well taken care of that when they don’t get it right, omg I don’t care. They have my money, they do no wrong, you can’t take me from them.

“My clients have called me laughing saying ‘OMG, some big sales person at [big national firm] called and tried to get in and I said ‘oh no, we love Felix, we would never change”.

“Is that because I’m the best CEO ever? Ha, no! It’s because my guys in my vans go out there and delight the hell out of people and because my service manager is doggedly focused on customer delight.”

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