17 Custodian Interview Questions and Answers

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

Custodians and janitors are responsible for the cleanliness and maintenance of businesses, schools, government buildings, and healthcare facilities. Before you’re hired for a custodian job, you may need to go to a job interview. One way to prepare for this important meeting is to learn how to answer custodian interview questions before talking with an interviewer.

Employers look for custodians who are trustworthy, reliable, well organized, and able to solve problems. You’ll also need physical strength and stamina, as well as knowledge of the best ways to clean different facilities and types of equipment. A custodial interview is your chance to show that you’ve polished these skills to a shine. To help you get ready, we’ve listed custodian questions and answers that will help you figure out what you want to say during an interview.

Common Custodian Interview Questions

Are you comfortable cleaning up bodily fluids or other potentially disgusting substances?

As a custodian, you may be responsible for cleaning up bodily fluids and other substances that are potentially dangerous. Employers ask this question to make sure you’re comfortable with these tasks and have the necessary experience. If you haven’t worked in a custodial role before, explain what steps you would take to clean up such substances if faced with them.

Example: “I’ve cleaned up bodily fluids and other disgusting substances many times throughout my career as a janitor. I know how to use proper safety equipment when handling these substances and always follow protocols to ensure my own health and safety. In addition, I’m very good at making sure the areas where I clean look presentable again.”

What are some of the most important skills for a custodian to have?

This question can help the interviewer determine if you have the skills necessary to succeed in this role. When answering, it can be helpful to mention a few of your strongest skills and how they relate to the job.

Example: “I think communication skills are important for custodians because we often work with other staff members who may need our assistance or want to communicate something to us. I also think organization is important because it helps me keep track of my tasks and stay on schedule. Finally, problem-solving skills are essential because there are always going to be issues that come up during the day that require quick solutions.”

How do you handle cleaning up trash or other waste that has been left behind by others?

This question can help the interviewer determine how you handle unpleasant tasks and whether you have a sense of responsibility. Use your answer to show that you are willing to do what needs to be done, even if it’s not always enjoyable.

Example: “I understand that sometimes people leave trash behind because they forget about it or don’t realize they’ve left something in a certain place. I try to make sure everyone feels welcome at our school so I take pride in my work and want to ensure that everything is clean and tidy for anyone who visits. If I find trash or other waste, I pick it up and throw it away.”

What is your process for keeping your workspace and equipment clean and well-maintained?

A custodian’s workspace is often a busy and messy place. Employers ask this question to make sure you have the organizational skills necessary to keep your work area clean and safe for yourself and others. In your answer, explain how you plan to stay organized in your space and maintain your equipment.

Example: “I always try to keep my workspace as tidy as possible. I find that if I can keep everything organized, it makes my job much easier. For example, when I’m cleaning one room, I’ll put all of the trash into a bag or container so I don’t leave anything behind. When I’m done with a task, I’ll also put away any tools I was using. This helps me avoid leaving things out and making a mess.”

Provide an example of a time when you had to deal with a difficult customer or client. How did you handle the situation?

Interviewers may ask this question to assess your customer service skills. Custodians often work with a variety of people, so it’s important that you can handle difficult situations effectively. In your answer, try to demonstrate how you remain calm and polite when faced with challenging clients or customers.

Example: “I once had a client who was very demanding. She would call me several times each day asking for additional cleaning services. I remained professional but firm in my responses. I explained that the school already provided us with a thorough cleaning schedule and we were unable to provide any more services at that time. Eventually, she stopped calling.”

If you saw a student doing something they weren’t supposed to be doing in a restricted area, what would you do?

This question is a great way to see how you would handle an uncomfortable situation. It’s important for custodians to be able to recognize when students are in restricted areas and know what to do about it. Your answer should show that you can follow the rules, but also have compassion for students who may not understand why they aren’t allowed in certain places.

Example: “I would first ask them if they knew they weren’t supposed to be there. If they said yes, I would tell them that they need to leave immediately. If they said no, I would explain that they aren’t allowed in this area and then escort them out of the building.”

What would you do if you saw another custodian or staff member violating school policies?

Interviewers want to know that you will report any violations of school policies. They also want to see if you can handle conflict and criticism well. In your answer, try to show that you are willing to speak up when necessary while still maintaining a positive attitude.

Example: “If I saw another custodian or staff member violating school policy, I would first ask them politely to stop the behavior. If they continued, I would report it to my supervisor so they could address the issue. I believe in following the proper chain of command and notifying someone with more authority than me before taking action myself.”

How well do you work as a team with other custodians or maintenance staff?

Teamwork is an important skill for custodians to have. Employers ask this question to make sure you can work well with others and get along in a team setting. When answering, it’s important to show that you understand the importance of teamwork and how it benefits your job performance.

Example: “I think working as a team is very beneficial when performing my duties as a custodian. I enjoy collaborating with other staff members on projects or tasks because it allows us to share ideas and learn from one another. It also helps me feel more comfortable asking for help if I need it.”

Do you have any experience using cleaning chemicals or other hazardous materials?

This question is asked to determine your experience with potentially dangerous materials. If you have no experience using hazardous materials, explain what steps you would take to learn how to use them and ensure that you’re following all safety protocols.

Example: “I’ve never used any cleaning chemicals or other hazardous materials in my previous custodial positions. However, I am open to learning about the proper way to handle these materials if hired for this position. I understand that it’s important to follow all safety procedures when handling hazardous materials.”

When is it appropriate to call maintenance to fix a problem instead of fixing it yourself?

This question can help the interviewer determine your problem-solving skills and ability to work with others. Use examples from past experiences where you called maintenance for help, but also when you fixed a problem yourself.

Example: “In my last role as a custodian, I noticed that one of the bathroom sinks was leaking water. Instead of calling maintenance right away, I first tried to fix it myself by tightening the pipes under the sink. Unfortunately, this didn’t solve the issue, so I had to call maintenance to come take a look at it. They ended up replacing the entire pipe system in the bathroom.”

We want to encourage students to be responsible for keeping our school clean. How would you encourage students to clean up after themselves?

This question can help the interviewer determine how you would interact with students and encourage them to be responsible for their actions. Use examples from your previous experience working with students to show that you know how to motivate young people.

Example: “I have worked in several schools where I had to remind students to clean up after themselves, but I find it’s best to start early on. When I first started my custodial job at a middle school, I noticed there were trash cans overflowing with garbage. So, I went around the school and collected all of the garbage bags and put them into one large bag. Then, I took the bag outside and threw it away. The next day, when I came back to work, all of the trash cans were empty.”

Describe your process for disposing of hazardous materials.

The interviewer may ask this question to assess your knowledge of proper disposal procedures. Use your answer to highlight your ability to follow protocols and ensure the safety of others in the workplace.

Example: “I always make sure that I dispose of hazardous materials properly, including batteries, fluorescent bulbs and other items that could cause harm if they were improperly disposed of. At my last job, I had a designated area for disposing of these items. When I collected them from classrooms or offices, I placed them in a separate container until it was time to take them to the hazardous waste facility.”

What makes you an ideal candidate for a custodian position?

Employers ask this question to learn more about your qualifications and how you feel about the job. They want someone who is passionate about their work, so it’s important to highlight any skills or experiences that make you a good fit for the role. When answering this question, think of what motivates you in your career and why you’re excited to be interviewing for this position.

Example: “I am an ideal candidate because I have five years of custodial experience, which has given me valuable knowledge on how to clean effectively. I also understand the importance of safety when working with chemicals and other cleaning supplies. Another reason I’m an ideal candidate is because I love helping others by keeping facilities clean and organized. This job would allow me to use my skills while making a positive impact.”

Which cleaning methods do you prefer and why?

This question helps the interviewer determine your level of experience and expertise. It also shows them how you prioritize tasks to complete work efficiently. When answering this question, consider what methods you have used in previous roles that helped you meet or exceed expectations.

Example: “I prefer using a variety of cleaning methods because it allows me to get more done in less time. For example, I use a vacuum to remove dust from carpets and floors, then wipe down surfaces with disinfectant wipes. Afterward, I mop the floor to clean up any remaining dirt or debris. This method is efficient for me because I can do all three steps at once, which saves me time.”

What do you think is the most important aspect of being a good team member?

This question is a great way to assess how well you work with others. Employers want custodians who are willing to help their coworkers and support them when they need it. When answering this question, think about what qualities you have that make you a good team member. Try to highlight your interpersonal skills and ability to communicate effectively.

Example: “I believe the most important aspect of being a good team member is communication. I am always sure to let my coworkers know if I’m going on break or taking care of something in another part of the building. If I see one of my coworkers needs help, I try to offer assistance as soon as possible. I also like to ask for feedback from my coworkers so I can learn more about how I can improve my performance.”

How often do you perform routine checks and maintenance on your equipment?

The interviewer may ask this question to learn about your attention to detail and how you care for the facilities you work in. Use your answer to highlight your commitment to keeping equipment clean, safe and operational.

Example: “I perform routine checks on all of my equipment at least once a week. I also make sure to check all of my tools before each shift so that I can ensure they’re ready for use. If any equipment or tools are missing or damaged, I report it immediately so that maintenance staff can replace or repair them. In addition to these regular checks, I also perform more thorough inspections twice a month.”

There is a spill on the floor and you do not have the right cleaning supplies to clean it up. What do you do?

This question is an opportunity to show your problem-solving skills. When answering this question, it can be helpful to describe a specific situation and how you would handle it.

Example: “If I didn’t have the right supplies to clean up a spill, I would first call my supervisor for advice on what to do. If they were not available, I would find someone else who could help me with the cleaning supplies. Then, I would use whatever supplies I had at hand to clean up the spill as best as possible. Afterward, I would report the spill to my supervisor so that we could order new supplies.”


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