I have to hire some new employees and I need to find some sample interview questions that I can ask candidates. Where can I find some good questions specifically for local highway and public works positions?

Here are some sample questions you may find useful when interviewing highway or DPW employee candidates:


  • You were provided a copy of the job description for the position of . Can you tell us what the position entails, and why you’re qualified?
  • Describe some of the equipment you’ve worked with in the past. (Or you could ask about places where they have worked)
  • We work overtime dealing with snowstorms and other emergencies. Are you willing to work overtime and odd hours?
  • If you have multiple projects on your plate, how do you handle completing them on time?
  • Tell us about a suggestion you have made that has benefited an organization you’ve worked for.
  • What is it about this position as that attracts you the most?
  • What’s the most rewarding work you have ever done and why?
  • What’s the least rewarding work you have ever done and why?
  • We are looking for trade professionals with a variety of skills. Name for me your top three skills related to this job.

Publics Works Based Questions

  • Why would you rather work in the public works sector versus the private sector?
  • In your opinion, what defines Public Works? Or what does a highway department do?
  • Your background is not in Public Works. What qualifies you for this position?
  • How well do you know the Public Works service? What does work in Public Works mean to you?

Professional Attitude

  • What do you do if the Superintendent or DPW Manager/Crew Leader tells you to do something that you don’t want to do, (or maybe you dislike the co-worker), how do you handle it?
  • The Town of ’s Highway Department employs a diverse range of trades and administrative personnel. How do you feel about working in a highly diverse environment?
  • Do you consider yourself a team player?
  • What would you do if the assigned work was completed, and you find yourself back at the shop, one hour before the end of the workday? If some or all the other crew members were sitting in the lunchroom, socializing or looking at their phones, would you join them or find something to do? Can you describe when that has happened in the past and how you handled crew members who did not want to do anything.
  • You are working in a small work group of 2-4 crew members, and these workers have been working for the department for several years. You feel that there is a better, more efficient, safer, or easier way to perform the task. How do you work with the co- workers to influence them to try your way of doing it? Do you have an example of how you have done this in the past.

Equipment Operator (MEO or HEO)

  • What is a pre-trip check list?
  • Describe what should be checked as a pre-trip inspection for a Truck before use?
  • What should be checked as a pre-trip for any piece of equipment?
  • When operating a truck with a front plow and front post wing plow, how should you put your plows down when approaching a road for plowing?
  • What is the purpose for using pre-treated salt or pre-wetted salt?
  • As an equipment operator, you are subject to doing manual labor. Is there anything that would prevent you from performing manual labor for extended periods of time? i.e. dragging and chipping brush, shoveling gravel, raking leaves, pushing a lawn mower, running a chain saw or weed whacker.


  • If several machines broken down at once, which would you repair first? Why?
  • How would you troubleshoot problems with equipment? Use experiences to support your answer.
  • Are there certain types of repairs you really enjoy doing? Are there some that you struggle with?
  • If you were asked to check your air brake adjustment, would you be able to do an inspection and or adjustment. How would you go about doing this? If you don’t know how to check the adjustment what would you do?
  • Tell us what types of mechanical abilities you have, and how this would make you more qualified than another applicant. What is an important part of equipment maintenance that can be performed frequently? (grease)


  • Safety is everything to us at the Town of . How do you embrace a culture of safety?
  • Tell me about your safety related training, and your overall safety record in your current job.
  • You notice that another maintenance staff member is not following procedures. How you would you handle this?
  • What is the necessary safety equipment for chain saw operation? Helmet w/ear protection, & mesh shield or helmet, eye protection, ear protection, gloves, chaps, and tools for sharpening.