Hiring in the pest control industry feels like a daunting feat. At small companies, the owner often acts as the hiring manager, cutting into time that could be spent on sales and marketing.
Large pest control companies deal with challenges, too. Not having enough employees during the busy season means competitors can snatch up customers that would otherwise be yours.
You can streamline your recruiting and hiring with the right pest control technician interview questions. Knowing what to ask allows you to assess a candidate’s:
Knowledge of methods and regulations
These 20 sample interview questions and answers give you a place to start. Tailor them to your interview process so you can hire the best pest control technicians in your service area.
Though it covers some of the most common interview questions, the technical portion of a job interview is a vital part of the process. It helps you see how well a candidate’s experience level matches your pest control job description.
Why you should ask this question: This one is straightforward. It helps you assess how much direct experience a candidate has with the pests your company deals with.
Likewise, it shows if they have relevant experience that could carry over. Most importantly, it reveals how much past experience an applicant actually has versus what their resume says.
Example of a good answer: “I grew up on a farm in Georgia, so we had everything from fire ants to wild hogs. We had to deal with pests right away, usually just me and my dad, because it threatened our livelihood. That made me really good at dealing with things that sting and bite, the stuff most people don’t want to get near.”
The interviewee names the main types of pests they’ve dealt with, and then offers the context behind them. That context shows they act with a sense of urgency and gives you a glimpse of how they solve problems under pressure.
Why you should ask this question: Good technical skills flow from good problem-solving skills, and good problem-solving flows from having a reliable process to break down challenging situations.
After all, part of what makes pest control challenging is how some jobs look similar but are wildly dissimilar. A torn-up lawn requires a different approach depending on if it’s a mole, vole, gopher, or other pest doing the damage.
Example of a good answer: “I start at the crime scene and work my way from there. Do I see droppings? Molt? Usually, you know the pest at that point, and it’s about finding the path it took to get there, so I’ll do things like follow nearby walls to find access points. Then I ask, where does that access point go? Basement? Attic? Outside? Once I find their home, I observe and confirm the pest, then start developing a treatment plan.”
This answer shows the job seeker has a reliable process and understands how to communicate their process with terms such as “observe and confirm.”
Why you should ask this question: Customers have good reasons to be wary of pesticides. The National Library of Medicine notes insecticides are broadly considered the most toxic class of pesticides, especially to children. Herbicides aren’t considered much safer.
But customers also understand pests carry risks, too. Cockroaches carry at least 30 types of bacteria. Whoever you hire must be comfortable navigating this tension by showing good judgment about when and how to use chemical pesticides.
Example of a good answer: “I’d want to understand not just the customer’s goals but their whole environment. If it’s routine maintenance and they have kids and a dog or cat, I’d probably choose a pyrethrin-based spray to keep everyone safe. If they need something stronger, I’d propose placing bait stations and sealing entry points to see if that would work before using more or changing the spray.”
The candidate’s response shows they can devise a treatment plan that maximizes a pesticide’s effectiveness while minimizing risk to the customer. It also shows they have a backup plan should the problem require a more robust solution.
Why you should ask this question: Misused or contaminated pesticides, like one mixed in a container that wasn’t properly cleaned, can cause damage to nontarget species and the environment in general.
A field technician who doesn’t understand this could lose customers and expose you to legal risks.
For example, pyrethrin and pyrethroid sprays are great because they’re safe for humans and animals but toxic if they get into water. Not paying attention to where it’s sprayed could kill the fish in a customer’s prized koi pond.
Example of a good answer: “A big thing for me is just looking at the environment. A lot of homeowners don’t think of things like making sure there are no toys on the lawn, so you have to watch out for the customer like that. I also label all my cabinets so I know I’m grabbing only what I need, and I always make sure to mix in a cool, open area so the ventilation is good.”
That answer displays respect for the power of pesticides. It indicates someone who’ll take responsibility without you having to babysit them.
Why you should ask this question: Depending on the pest, a heavy infestation can have severe, far-reaching consequences that must be addressed immediately.
Termites eating a home’s foundation can cause tens of thousands of dollars in structural damage, not to mention the threat to human life should the home collapse. A bed bug infestation can shut down an entire hotel, putting the owner’s livelihood at stake.
Example of a good answer: “The first thing I do is make sure the customer understands how bad the problem is and how not addressing it swiftly will make a bad situation worse. I’ll also make treating the infestation a team effort. I’ll let my boss and other field techs know what’s going on so we can brainstorm a plan that gets on top of the problem ASAP.”
This answer illustrates the importance of good communication skills. The candidate speaks urgently yet clearly with the customer to set expectations. The technician then escalates the problem so the rest of the team knows what’s going on.
Why you should ask this question: Pest control is a highly regulated industry where licensing requirements vary and can change quickly. Likewise, consumer demand for effective and eco-friendly pest control options means companies must stay current with the latest treatment methods.
Example of a good answer: “I like Pest Management Professional because a lot of the articles are written by pest control experts who get straight to the point. I’m also subscribed to a few newsletters like Pest Control Technology.”
The candidate shows they stay current with what’s happening in the industry and are likely to be proactive in addressing technical issues and proposing solutions.
Why you should ask this question: Integrated pest management, or IPM, is rapidly growing as customers want holistic pest control solutions that work with the environment instead of disrupting it.
Example of a good answer: “I helped set up an IPM plan for a golf course. We didn’t use synthetic pesticides unless certain conditions were met. For instance, we controlled grubs by combining natural pest control methods like spraying nematodes and planting native wildflowers. That encouraged grub-eating birds and beneficial insects to do their thing. We also set up a monitoring program where we’d watch for damaged turf and only spot-apply pesticide in small amounts to patches once they reach a certain size.”
This prospective employee is not only familiar with the theory of IPM, but has hands-on experience practicing it.
Why you should ask this question: Technical skills don’t matter much if a candidate doesn’t also have good customer service skills. This interview question helps assess the candidate’s ability to listen, understand, and solve each customer’s unique problem.
Example of a good answer: “I had a client who was really frustrated because their elderly neighbor would throw seed on the sidewalk so she could watch the birds more closely. But it created a roach infestation under the sidewalk, and they’d come out at night and crawl over to my client’s house. We used both physical and chemical exclusion to push the roaches back, and then we set bait stations so the roaches would take it back to the colony.”
The technician demonstrates great sensitivity here by helping the client get rid of the roaches without risking a conflict with the neighbor.
Why you should ask this question: Certain environments — schools, hospitals, food warehouses — limit treatment options due to special regulations. Not following these regulations could have disastrous consequences, from losing a large contract to potential legal action.
Example of a good answer: “I make sure I understand what the requirements are. Like I had this one warehouse job where we had to don and doff our PPE in a designated area, and we had to be there at specific shift changes or we wouldn’t be allowed to enter. We also had to do all prep work off-site because of contamination risk.”
This kind of answer comes from an applicant who understands that complying with other industries’ rules and regulations is part of the job.
Technical questions focus on an applicant’s ability to do the hands-on functions of the job. Interpersonal questions shift the focus to soft skills. That is, their social intelligence when interacting with others, from collaborating with coworkers to interpreting customers’ needs.
Why you should ask this question: You need reliable employees who buy into your vision and values and have intrinsic motivation for pest control as their profession. If you hire someone who just wants a job, odds are they’ll leave the moment they think something better comes along.
Example of a good answer: “I think home is a sanctuary, a place where we should all be able to relax and be ourselves. That’s really hard to do when you see a roach run across the floor, or your kid crying because of the mosquitoes in the backyard, or your pet itching in agony from fleas. All of a sudden, your home doesn’t feel like yours.”
Here, the applicant shows how much they value home and family and how they see working in pest control as a way to live those values. Someone like this is likely to stick with you for a long time.
Why you should ask this question: Customers have valid reasons for getting worked up when they see a pest in their home. Bits of roach shells can cause their child to have an asthma attack. An unlucky mosquito bite can cause encephalitis. It’s easy to see how a pest problem could escalate a customer’s anxiety quickly.
Example of a good answer: “Well, no one wants to deal with an upset customer. I think the biggest thing is making sure they feel listened to and understood. I let them talk, then I say back what I heard to make sure we’re on the same page. If I can’t give them a solution then, I’ll tell them how I’m going to find the solution and when I’ll follow up, so they have some peace of mind.”
That response demonstrates a candidate who’s emotionally mature and can handle pressure. Field technicians like that will help you save more at-risk accounts.
Why you should ask this question: No two days are the same in pest control. Not to mention that depending on the type of pest control you offer, you may alternate busy and slow seasons. Mosquito and tick services can be nonstop all spring and summer, then fall and winter focus on marketing and sales for the next season.
Example of a good answer: “If you use a field app with routing, I’ll rely a lot on that to help run my day. If I have to do it manually, I’ll look at my jobs first thing in the morning, then organize my route by zip codes so I can make a continuous route instead of zigzagging all over town.”
A candidate like that understands their time management impacts your business’s bottom line. They also show they’re tech-savvy and eager to use tools that make them more efficient.
Why you should ask this question: Pests are adapted to live in conditions we aren’t. Attics and crawl spaces are often hot and dirty, which might mean close contact with pests and their waste. Working outside can mean mud, chill, heat, and more.
Example of a good answer: “Yeah, I remember putting on gear to take care of a hornets’ nest when it was over 100 degrees out. Then another time I had to army crawl on my belly to reach a possum with a catch pole.”
This answer shows your potential team member understands pest control often isn’t glamorous, but they don’t let that get in the way of getting a job done.
Why you should ask this question: Driving a service van full of chemicals and equipment is not the same as getting groceries in a Honda Fit.
Example of a good answer: “Yeah, no problem. I’ve handled large vehicles since learning to drive my dad’s truck. In college, I drove a flatbed to make client deliveries when I worked in a lumberyard. When I wasn’t doing that, I was unloading tractor trailers with a forklift.”
That answer reveals a candidate comfortable handling sizeable industrial equipment and has a track record of successfully doing so. You can trust them to handle their gear in the field.
Why you should ask this question: Busy seasons can mean wall-to-wall appointments that require working late and on weekends. They can also mean working with customers who aren’t so understanding, like someone needing day-of mosquito service before their kids’ birthday party.
Example of a good answer: “I guess it depends on the situation. Say I’ve tried everything I know, and I’m out of options. I’ll call the office or another field tech to see if they know something I don’t. Or if I just have to grind through a long day, I remember to take a deep breath every now and then and say, ‘You got this.’”
You need employees like this who know tough days are ahead, and have coping mechanisms to turn to when those days happen.
Why you should ask this question: Pest control is a collaborative effort. Ideally, calling an exterminator is just one step homeowners take in solving their pest problems. Customers who take your advice are likely to get better results, meaning better odds of referrals and repeat business down the road.
Example of a good answer: “Totally. They don’t want the pest to come back, and I don’t want to come back for the pest. Also, people are usually grateful when you point out something that helps them take charge of the situation. I like to recommend people sprinkle a bit of diatomaceous earth along cracks and crevices. It tears up insects’ shells and dehydrates them to death, keeping bugs from getting a foothold.”
The technician is ready with simple, effective DIY tips that make customers feel empowered. They’ll remember that feeling when they need help again.
Culture fit questions assess how well your company’s mission, vision, and values align with those of each job candidate. This is crucial in pest control for a variety of reasons. For example, if you start a pest control business and plan to pursue aggressive growth for the next three to five years, hiring people who want predictable schedules with no nights or weekends probably won’t be a good fit.
Why you should ask this question: Pest control is a broad industry with many specializations and approaches. Some companies focus on only one insect. Some try to be as comprehensive as possible. Consider the differences in these three pest control franchises:
Pestmaster, a 40-year industry leader specialized in IPM and focused heavily on securing government contracts
Critter Control, a nuisance wildlife service specialized in handling large vertebrates other services tend to avoid
Superior Mosquito Defense, a provider specializing in mosquito control
On top of that, every company has different core values that shape its culture.
Example of a good answer: “I really like how active in the community you are, doing things like sponsoring events and keeping the little league fields in good shape so the kids are safe. Other companies don’t seem that engaged like they just want to make money from the community without really being a part of it.”
A strong candidate wants more than a paycheck. They also want to be associated with a company that does good in the community and understand how your services make that happen.
Why you should ask this question: Not only are many pest control services seasonal, but the pests are highly unpredictable. Wasps don’t stop stinging on the weekends. Plenty of pests, from bats to raccoons, don’t come out until the sun goes down.
Example of a good answer: “That’s actually a big reason I like pest control. I don’t want an office job where every day is the same. Don’t get me wrong, a bit of routine is good, but I need a sense of adventure, too.”
The realities of pest control align with this candidate’s personality. They’ll be more likely to jump in than groan when an off-hours job comes in.
Why you should ask this question: A person’s willingness to learn and grow tells you a lot about their character and values. They know they don’t know everything, so they’ll be receptive to training and feedback and ask for help when needed. If you help them develop, they’ll be more likely to reward you with loyalty.
Example of a good answer: “For sure. I won’t get better doing the same things I’ve always done. Plus, I’ve got a family to support, so I’m always interested in anything that can help me better provide for them.”
This answer shows a candidate driven by intrinsic and extrinsic motivation — a desire to better themselves and help their family.
Why you should ask this question: Feedback and constructive criticism help your field technicians improve their jobs — but only if they can take it. If your employees take criticism well, you’ll build a team that keeps customers happy and drives repeat business.
Example of a good answer: “I admit when I was younger, I didn’t do so great with criticism. It took me a minute to realize it, but when people give you feedback, it’s because they care. They see something in you worth investing in, and they want to help realize that potential. So I remind myself in my head, ‘Relax, they’re helping you get better.’”
The candidate is aware of their strengths and weaknesses. They also have the humility to admit that receiving feedback isn’t always comfortable. Still, they know how to redirect themselves to a place where they can receive it and actually look forward to implementing it.
Hiring can be demanding, but you can give yourself an edge with pest control software that automates your operations. FieldRoutes, a ServiceTitan company, streamlines scheduling, estimating, invoicing, and more so you can scale your business faster.
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See the FieldRoutes® Operations Suite for yourself with a free demo.
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