BS 1363 Plug as an Interview Question

I would consider handing a candidate in the UK a BS 1363 Plug, a length of flex, and an appropriate selection of tools and asking them to wire the plug, and then present the finished task.

This quick interview task would allow you to see a candidate’s ability to ask questions if their knowledge was lacking, it would also allow you to assess their ability to use tools and show the quality of their work.

For those of you not in the UK, the wiring colours are enshrined in IEC 60446, which since 2004 has mandated that Live is Brown, Neutral is Blue, and Protective Earth is Green/Yellow. (while not used in single-phase plugs, IEC 60446 mandates that Line 1 is Brown, L2 is Black, and L3 is Grey).

The fuse in a 3 Pin BS 1363 plug (BS 1363-1:2023 – 13 A plugs, socket-outlets, adaptors and connection units. Re-wirable and non-re-wirable 13 A fused plugs. – Specification) is part of the requirements and is controlled by BS 1362 (BS 1362:1973+A3:2021 – General purpose fuse links for domestic and similar purposes (primarily for use in plugs) – Specification). The mandated colours for the fuses are 3A red and 13A brown, with all other fuse ratings being black.

BS 1363 plugs and sockets are rated for use at a maximum of 250 V AC and 13 A, except for non-rewirable plugs which have a current rating according to the type of cable connected to them and the fuse fitted. The rating must be marked on the plug.

Placing a non-compliant plug onto the market in the United Kingdom is an offence under the “The Plugs and Sockets, etc. (Safety) Regulations 1994”, which was put in place to alleviate concerns that consumer safety was compromised by the counterfeit and unsafe electrical plugs and sockets being placed on the UK market When working for CASS Industries we saw a number of these come in from Chinese suppliers.

Interview Response

BS 1363 Plug fulfilled as part of an interview
BS 1363 Plug fulfilled as part of an interview

Job interviews have reconvened at my brother-in-law‘s works to find a new electrical engineer. All of the 20 candidates must have a master’s degree in electrical engineering. Whilst interviewing them he asked them to wire a 3-pin plug to check their abilities, which has thrown up this little gem. Luckily the position has now been filled but thankfully not by the creator of this masterpiece.

Chris Jane – Facebook

This photograph and associated paragraph were posted on Facebook by Chris Jane. Quite a few of the responses on the image claim that a master-level Electrical Engineer doesn’t need to know how to wire a plug… but the original post states Electrical, not an Electronics Engineer…

Either way, I feel that this is a valid Interview question, as even if you don’t know the correct wiring scheme, there is nothing to stop you from asking the interviewer. This one simple task shows up your approach to safety and tool usage.

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