17 Controls Technician Interview Questions and Answers

Learn what skills and qualities interviewers are looking for from a controls technician, what questions you can expect, and how you should go about answering them.

If you’re looking for a controls technician job, you’re in luck. This is a growing field, as industrial and commercial businesses continue to automate their operations. Controls technicians are responsible for the installation, programming, and maintenance of industrial control systems. They work in a variety of industries, including manufacturing, food processing, and oil and gas.

In order to land a job as a controls technician, you’ll need to be able to answer common controls technician interview questions. In this guide, we’ll provide you with some sample questions and answers that you can use to prepare for your interview.

Common Controls Technician Interview Questions

Are you familiar with the differences between analog and digital industrial control systems?

This question can help the interviewer determine your level of expertise in controls systems. Your answer should include a brief description of each type of system and how they differ from one another.

Example: “Analog control systems are based on continuous signals, while digital control systems use discrete signals. Analog systems are more flexible than digital ones because you can change their settings by adjusting the input signal. Digital systems have fixed settings that cannot be changed once programmed. However, analog systems are also less accurate than digital ones.”

What are the steps you would take to troubleshoot a malfunctioning control system?

This question can help the interviewer determine how you approach a problem and solve it. Your answer should include steps that are logical and easy to follow, such as:

Identify the malfunctioning system Determine what caused the malfunction Repair or replace the malfunctioning part Test the system to ensure it’s working properly Example: “I would first identify which control system is having issues by checking for any alarms or alerts. Then I would check all of the sensors and make sure they’re functioning correctly. If there are no problems with the sensors, then I would move on to the actuators and valves to see if they’re operating as expected. Finally, I would test the entire system to make sure everything is working properly.”

How would you go about installing a new control system if the old one was irreparable?

This question can help the interviewer understand your problem-solving skills and how you apply them to a work environment. Your answer should show that you have the ability to think critically, research information and use your technical knowledge to complete tasks.

Example: “If I had to replace an old control system, I would first make sure all of the necessary documentation was available for the new system. Then, I would install the new system according to the instructions in the manual. Finally, I would test the new system to ensure it’s working properly before handing it over to my supervisor.”

What is your experience with using programmable logic controllers?

Programmable logic controllers (PLCs) are a type of control system that is used in many industries. The interviewer may ask this question to learn about your experience with PLCs and how you use them. If you have previous experience using PLCs, explain what types of systems you’ve worked with. If you don’t have any experience working with PLCs, consider explaining the different types of controls you’ve used in the past.

Example: “I’ve worked with PLCs before, but I prefer other types of programmable automation controllers (PACs). PACs are similar to PLCs, however they’re more flexible and can be programmed for multiple applications. In my last role as a controls technician, I was responsible for maintaining the company’s PAC system.”

Provide an example of a time when you had to use your problem-solving skills to find a solution to a complex issue.

Controls technicians must be able to use their problem-solving skills to troubleshoot issues with complex machinery. Employers ask this question to see if you have the necessary experience and skills to perform well in this role. In your answer, explain a situation where you used your critical thinking skills to solve a challenging issue. Explain how you were able to come up with an effective solution that helped you complete your task.

Example: “At my previous job, I was tasked with fixing a malfunctioning piece of equipment. After inspecting it, I realized there were several different problems contributing to its failure. I had to think critically about each issue before coming up with a solution for each one. Eventually, I figured out what caused all of the malfunctions and fixed the equipment.”

If you had to choose one, which area of industrial controls do you find most interesting?

This question is a way for the interviewer to get an idea of your technical knowledge and how you prioritize your work. Your answer should show that you are passionate about industrial controls, but also that you can complete all aspects of the job.

Example: “I find most interesting the automation systems used in manufacturing plants. I love working with complex machinery and figuring out new ways to optimize processes. In my last role, I helped implement a robotic system at a factory where they were having issues with efficiency. After some research, we determined that the best solution was to replace the conveyor belts with automated ones. The company saved thousands of dollars by implementing this change.”

What would you do if you were assigned to work on a project with a tight deadline but the equipment you needed was not available?

This question can help the interviewer assess your problem-solving skills and ability to adapt to challenging situations. Your answer should show that you are willing to take on challenges and find solutions quickly.

Example: “If I were assigned to work on a project with a tight deadline but the equipment I needed was not available, I would first try to find out why it’s unavailable. If there is no valid reason for its unavailability, I would ask my supervisor if we could move the project to another date so I can use the equipment when it becomes available. If moving the project to another date is not an option, I would then look for alternative equipment or processes that can help me complete the project within the deadline.”

How well do you work under pressure?

Controls technicians often work in high-pressure environments. Employers ask this question to make sure you can handle the stress of working on a tight deadline. In your answer, explain that you are able to stay calm under pressure and complete tasks efficiently. Show them that you have experience with time management and prioritization skills.

Example: “I am very comfortable working under pressure. I find it motivating to know that there is a deadline for my projects. It helps me stay focused and motivated to get my work done quickly. I also enjoy being able to help my team meet deadlines as well. I feel like we all work together to accomplish our goals.”

Do you have any experience working with hazardous materials?

Controls technicians often work with hazardous materials, so the interviewer wants to make sure you have experience working in this type of environment. If you do, share your experience and how it helped you develop skills that will help you succeed as a controls technician. If you don’t have any experience working with hazardous materials, explain what you would do if faced with this situation on the job.

Example: “I worked at an oil refinery for three years where I was responsible for monitoring the temperature of the tanks. One day, one of the tanks overheated, which caused me to shut down all operations until we could get the tank back under control. This was my first time working with hazardous materials, but I followed protocol and notified my supervisor immediately. We were able to fix the problem before there were any serious consequences.”

When is it appropriate to call a technician instead of trying to fix a problem yourself?

This question can help the interviewer determine your level of experience and how you handle problems. Your answer should show that you know when to ask for help from a senior technician or engineer.

Example: “I would call a technician if I was unsure about what the problem is, how to fix it or if I needed assistance with a more complex issue. In my last position, I had a lot of autonomy in my work, but I also knew when to ask for help. For example, if I didn’t understand why a certain piece of equipment wasn’t working properly, I would have asked for help so I could learn more about the system.”

We want to encourage our technicians to come up with their own solutions to problems. How would you handle being given a task with a tight deadline but being given no creative freedom to come up with your own solution?

This question can help the interviewer determine how you would handle a challenging situation and whether you have the ability to think critically. In your answer, try to show that you are willing to take on challenges and find solutions for them.

Example: “I understand that sometimes I will be given tasks with tight deadlines but no freedom to come up with my own solution. However, if this happened often, it could become discouraging. If I were in this situation, I would first ask questions about why I was being given such a task. Then, I would do everything I could to complete the task as quickly as possible while still maintaining quality.”

Describe your process for documenting your work and keeping records.

The interviewer may ask this question to understand how you keep track of your work and the results. This can help them determine if you have a system for organizing your records, which is an important part of being a controls technician. In your answer, describe what steps you take to organize your documentation and record keeping.

Example: “I use a digital database program to keep track of my work and document all of my findings. I also make sure to write down any notes or observations that I make during testing so that I can refer back to them later. Keeping organized records helps me stay on top of my work and ensures that I don’t miss anything.”

What makes you an ideal candidate for a controls technician position?

This question is your opportunity to show the interviewer that you have the skills and experience necessary for this role. You can answer this question by highlighting a few of your most important qualifications, such as your technical knowledge or ability to work in a team environment.

Example: “I am an ideal candidate for this position because I have five years of experience working as a controls technician at my current company. During this time, I’ve developed a strong understanding of how to troubleshoot problems with industrial machinery and automated systems. In addition, I’m highly organized and detail-oriented, which has helped me develop efficient methods for testing equipment and identifying potential issues.”

Which programming languages are you most comfortable using?

Controls technicians need to be able to use a variety of programming languages. The interviewer may ask this question to see if you have experience with the specific language they use in their company. Before your interview, research which programming languages the company uses and highlight any that you are familiar with. If you don’t know which ones they use, explain that you’re willing to learn new languages.

Example: “I am most comfortable using C++ and Java. I took several classes on these two languages while earning my degree, so I feel confident using them. However, I also understand that many companies use PLCs, so I would be happy to learn how to program those.”

What do you think is the most important skill for a technician to have?

This question can help the interviewer determine what you value in a controls technician. Your answer can also tell them about your own skills and how they might benefit this position. When answering, think about which skills are most important to you as a technician. Consider mentioning one or two of these skills that you have.

Example: “I believe the most important skill for a technician is communication. I’ve worked with technicians who were very skilled at their jobs but didn’t communicate well with others. This led to mistakes being made and projects taking longer than necessary. If someone had asked them questions about what they were doing, it could have helped prevent some issues. I am always willing to ask questions if I don’t understand something.”

How often do you perform maintenance on control systems?

This question can help interviewers understand your experience level and how often you perform maintenance on control systems. If you have a lot of experience, you may be able to provide insight into the best practices for maintaining control systems. If you are new to this role, you can explain what steps you would take to learn about performing maintenance on control systems.

Example: “I usually perform maintenance on control systems once every two years or when I notice any issues with the system. For example, if there is an issue with one of the sensors, I will check all other sensors to ensure they are working properly. This helps me determine whether it’s just that sensor or if there is a larger problem with the entire system.”

There is a bug in the programming code for a control system. What is your process for fixing this?

This question is an opportunity to show your problem-solving skills and ability to work independently. Your answer should include a step-by-step process for identifying the bug, isolating it and fixing it.

Example: “I would first check all of the programming code to make sure there are no typos or missing characters. If I find that there isn’t anything wrong with the coding, then I will move on to testing the system’s hardware. This involves checking each component of the control system to ensure that none of them have any issues. Once I’ve checked everything, I’ll go back through the software program again to see if I can spot the issue.”


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