Custodian Interview Questions


Custodian Interview Questions

Custodians maintain offices, schools, hospitals and public spaces, ensuring they are always sanitary and appealing. Depending on where they work, custodians may have to interact with the public and find themselves in the midst of busy environments. Physical ability along with level composition and a friendly demeanor help candidates excel in this position.

In response to COVID-19, sanitation and cleaning procedures have had to change drastically. Custodians must employ best practices to ensure the areas they maintain are always safe for people to use. Consider candidates’ prior custodial experience, cleaning knowledge, adaptability and willingness to improve. Responsive cleaning measures will be required to reflect greater safety precautions and requirements in every sector.

General interview questions (such as “Can you tell me about yourself?” and “Why are you looking for another job?”) are a great way to get to know your candidate’s personal history, interests, and goals. However, be sure to add inquiries specific to the role they’re interviewing for, so you can gain valuable insights into their likelihood of success in that position.

Below are Custodian interview questions to help you get started:

1. What motivated you to apply for a role in custodial services?

What you want to hear: Candidates with prior cleaning experience and a desire to help others will easily answer this question. Aligning their professional ambitions with the role and responsibilities of the job demonstrates a strong sense of awareness and efficacy.

Red Flag Icon Red flag: Some people apply for jobs that they feel are “easy” and, mistakenly, assume don’t require education or formal skills. Custodians must employ a variety of cleaning, mechanical and communicative skills every day to perform their job, and a candidate who appears dismissive or disinterested is not right for the position.

2. If you come across something while you’re cleaning that needs to be repaired, what do you do?

What you want to hear: Custodians spend so much time on the premises that they are often the first to notice when something is broken or damaged. Some have maintenance and repair skills, but they are not required to make repairs by default. They should follow the company’s protocol and alert the maintenance staff immediately.

Red Flag Icon Red flag: A candidate should understand that their observations are important and take interest in keeping the property safe and functional. Opting to take on the repairs themselves could be hazardous, and overlooking them entirely because they feel it falls out of their job’s duties will put others at risk.

3. What gives you a sense of pride when you work as a Custodian? 

What you want to hear: Cleaning an office or public space is often unacknowledged, and it’s important for candidates to find their own source of motivation. Positive responses will mention specific reasons that an applicant enjoys cleaning for a living. For example, they may feel a sense of achievement seeing people enjoy the space they help maintain.

Red Flag Icon Red flag: Those who fail to see the value in their work as a Custodian are more likely to put minimal effort into their job and may even be prone to skipping out on responsibilities entirely. It’s also important to consider a candidate’s sense of fulfillment in a role when contemplating job retention; those who enjoy where they work and what they do are more likely to stay on board.

4. Describe a challenge you’ve faced with cleaning equipment that impacted your ability to complete the job.

What you want to hear: Technical difficulties or supply shortages happen, and a Custodian has to be able to find quick workarounds that are equally effective. Listen for answers that focus more on the problem-solving process and solution rather than the issue; this will help you determine how well a candidate works under pressure and how much initiative they take at work.

Red Flag Icon Red flag: Failure to produce an example or blaming others for problems indicates weak commitment and poor problem-solving skills. Regardless of where an issue originates from, a good Custodian recognizes that their job is essential and commits to coming up with solutions.

5. What types of cleaning equipment are you familiar with? 

What you want to hear: Custodians need to use a variety of equipment to effectively clean and sanitize an area; high-value candidates should have all the basics covered including vacuums, mops, floor scrubbers and various wipers. Advanced experience that includes ride-on floor cleaners and automated cleaning devices is a bonus.

Red Flag Icon Red flag: A vague, generalized response that does not illustrate a strong knowledge of custodial equipment indicates poor research and low interest. Even those who are applying for their first job as a Custodian should take the time to learn about the most common equipment.

6. Are you comfortable working in harsh weather conditions or working late at night?

What you want to hear: Custodial staff are often called in after-hours to maintain the premises and may be responsible for clearing parking lots and sidewalks of ice and snow in the winter, or other debris from storms depending on location. The candidate should be aware of the unique responsibilities of the position they’re applying for and be willing and able to fulfill them.

Red Flag Icon Red flag: A candidate who is physically unable or simply unwilling to perform unfavorable tasks are more likely to quit when the job is no longer convenient for them. Generally, this happens when the employer needs their services most, so you should only hire someone who is fully committed to all aspects of their job, even the ones they find less enjoyable.

7. What areas do you disinfect the most often?

What you want to hear: New cleaning procedures for COVID-19 require constant vigilance. To prevent the spread of disease and lower the risk of contamination, a candidate should mention cleaning the most commonly infected surfaces like doorknobs, light switches, tables and desks, keyboards, phones and toilets, sinks, faucets and touchscreens. Anything people commonly touch and interact with must be regularly disinfected.

Red Flag Icon Red flag: A candidate who does not mention the importance of disinfecting surfaces or thinks it is others’ responsibility to protect themselves will put everyone’s lives at risk.

8. What are some ways you practice safety while cleaning?  

What you want to hear: The candidate should acknowledge the hazards that come with a professional cleaning and take necessary steps to prevent injury or illness. Responses should include practical strategies like wearing a mask and gloves, reading labels and never mixing cleaning solutions. If a candidate is ever unsure about how to use a piece of equipment or how to use a product, they should speak to their supervisor or another member of the team.

Red Flag Icon Red flag: Personal safety and public safety go hand-in-hand for Custodians. Failure to protect oneself can also jeopardize the well-being of others in the environment, which risks people’s health and puts the company at risk of a lawsuit.

9. If you noticed one of your coworkers cleaning without the proper solution, what would you do? 

What you want to hear: Keeping a business clean is a team effort, and everyone should commit to maintaining cleaning standards and protecting people’s well-being. Teamwork and communication skills would help a candidate reach out to their colleague and offer a friendly reminder on what they need to do. It could be a simple oversight, but it still needs to be addressed to ensure proper sanitation.

Red Flag Icon Red flag: The way someone provides feedback typically reflects how they respond to it. The candidate who shies away from addressing their coworker or ignores their behavior altogether could ignore greater risks in the future. The staff must always collaborate on the best practices and ensure everyone is performing their roles appropriately; candidates who see teamwork as taking accountability for others’ actions are likely to be less engaged and more defensive at work.

10. If you forgot to clean something you were supposed to and your supervisor pointed it out at the end of your shift, what would you do?  

What you want to hear: Mistakes happen, however unintentional they may be. The right person for the job will have no problem owning up to their mistake and offer to correct it. They will also take extra care to ensure they do not forget any of their responsibilities in the future.

Red Flag Icon Red flag: If a candidate says they would tell a supervisor they should have alerted them sooner, they will likely find other excuses on the job when they do not perform their duties appropriately. Correcting their mistakes and addressing any communication issues with their supervisor later is the best strategy.

Every interview question can help get you closer to the right fit for your Custodian position.

Be sure to keep an eye out for candidates who: 

  • Demonstrate knowledge of best practices for sanitation and disinfecting.
  • Are well-versed in cleaning equipment and procedures.
  • Self-start but work well as part of a team.
  • Know how to multitask and prioritize different duties based on need.

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