17 Sanitation Technician Interview Questions and Answers

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

Sanitation techs are responsible for cleaning and disinfecting areas in homes, businesses, and other public spaces. The job requires the use of strong cleaning chemicals and equipment, as well as the ability to work in hot, cramped, or dusty spaces. Sanitation techs must be able to follow instructions carefully and pay attention to detail.

If you’re interested in becoming a sanitation tech, you’ll need to be able to demonstrate these skills in an interview. The questions below are some of the most common sanitation technician interview questions and answers.

Are you comfortable working with hazardous waste?

This question can help the interviewer determine if you have experience working with hazardous waste and how comfortable you are with it. If you do not have any experience, you can explain what your comfort level is with handling this type of waste.

Example: “I am very comfortable working with hazardous waste because I’ve done so for several years now. In my last position, I was responsible for disposing of all types of waste, including hazardous waste. I’m used to following strict protocols when dealing with hazardous waste and always make sure that I dispose of it in a safe manner. I also understand the importance of keeping myself and others around me safe while disposing of hazardous waste.”

What are the most common sanitation issues you have encountered on the job?

This question can help the interviewer get a better idea of your experience level and how you handle common issues. When answering this question, it can be helpful to mention an example of a time when you solved a sanitation issue and what steps you took to solve it.

Example: “The most common sanitation issues I have encountered on the job are overflowing dumpsters and trash bags that aren’t properly sealed. In my last position, I developed a system where I would check all dumpsters for overflow before leaving work each night. If there was any overflow, I would clean up the mess and make sure the dumpster was in good condition before leaving. For improperly sealed trash bags, I would take extra care to ensure they were properly sealed before taking them out.”

How would you handle a situation where you have a large amount of waste that needs to be transported to a landfill?

This question can help the interviewer determine how you handle stressful situations and whether you have experience with large waste management projects. In your answer, share a specific example of when you had to manage a large amount of waste and what steps you took to complete it successfully.

Example: “In my last position as a sanitation technician, I was responsible for transporting all of the trash from our facility at the end of each day. One night, we had an event that resulted in more trash than usual. I asked one of my coworkers if they could stay late to help me transport the extra trash so we wouldn’t be behind schedule the next morning. We worked together to load up the truck and get everything ready before leaving.”

What is your experience with operating heavy machinery?

This question can help the interviewer determine your experience with operating machinery that is used in sanitation work. Heavy machinery includes front loaders, backhoes and other large vehicles that are typically used for waste management. When answering this question, it can be beneficial to mention any certifications you have related to operating heavy machinery.

Example: “I am a certified operator of both front loaders and backhoes. I’ve worked with these machines on several occasions when working as a sanitation technician. In my last position, I was responsible for driving the front loader to transport trash from the trucks into the dumpster. I also operated the backhoe to lift trash cans into the truck.”

Provide an example of a time when you had to deal with a difficult customer or client.

Interviewers may ask this question to assess your customer service skills. They want to know how you would handle a challenging situation and if you have the ability to diffuse it. In your answer, try to highlight your problem-solving skills and interpersonal skills.

Example: “In my previous role as a sanitation technician, I had a client who was unhappy with our services. The client called me multiple times about their dissatisfaction, which made me feel uncomfortable. However, I remained calm and listened to what they had to say. After listening to them for a while, I realized that they were just upset because of something else going on in their life. I assured them that we would do everything we could to help them.”

If you had the opportunity to improve the sanitation services in your community, what changes would you make?

This question can help the interviewer determine your passion for sanitation and how you might contribute to the department if hired. Use examples from your experience that highlight your creativity, problem-solving skills and willingness to learn new things.

Example: “I would start by making sure everyone in my community knew about our services. I’d create a marketing campaign with catchy slogans and images that are easy to understand. I’d also make sure we had enough trucks to cover all areas of town so there were no delays in picking up trash. Finally, I’d work on improving recycling efforts because it’s important to reduce waste as much as possible.”

What would you do if you noticed a co-worker was not following safety procedures?

Employers ask this question to make sure you are a team player and that you can help others improve their work habits. In your answer, try to emphasize how you would encourage the employee to follow safety procedures while also emphasizing the importance of doing so.

Example: “I would first talk to them about it in private. I would explain why following these procedures is important for everyone’s safety and remind them that we all need to do our part to keep each other safe. If they still didn’t seem interested in improving, I would bring it up with my supervisor or manager. They may be able to provide additional training or support to help the employee understand the importance of following these rules.”

How well do you follow written and verbal instructions?

This question can help the interviewer assess your ability to work independently and follow instructions. Use examples from past experiences where you had to complete tasks or projects according to a supervisor’s or manager’s instructions.

Example: “In my last position, I worked with a team of sanitation technicians who were responsible for cleaning different areas of the city each day. Each morning, we would meet with our supervisor to receive our assignments and learn about any special instructions that may have been relevant to our job. For example, if there was an event taking place in one area of the city, we would be instructed to clean that area more thoroughly than usual.”

Do you have a license or certification in sanitation or a related field?

Employers may ask this question to learn more about your qualifications for the position. If you have a license or certification, share what it is and how it relates to sanitation work. If you don’t have any credentials, explain why not and discuss any relevant experience you do have.

Example: “I am currently working toward my certification in hazardous waste management through the state of California. I chose this certification because I want to ensure that I’m handling all types of waste properly. In my previous job, I was responsible for managing hazardous materials as well as regular trash. This helped me understand the importance of proper disposal.”

When is it appropriate to take a break while on the job?

Employers ask this question to make sure you know when it’s safe and appropriate to take a break. They want to ensure that you’re not going to be working nonstop for the entire shift, which could lead to fatigue or other safety concerns. In your answer, explain that you would only take a break if you were feeling tired or needed to use the restroom. You should also mention that you would never leave your post unless someone else was there to cover for you.

Example: “I would only take a break if I felt like I needed one. For example, if I was getting tired or needed to use the restroom, I would let my supervisor know so they could assign someone else to cover for me while I took care of those things. I would never leave my post without letting someone know because I understand how important sanitation is.”

We want our technicians to be proactive about identifying and solving problems. How would you handle a situation where you noticed a recurring issue?

Interviewers want to know that you’re willing to take initiative and solve problems on your own. They also want to see how you handle conflict, so be sure to highlight any teamwork skills you have in your answer.

Example: “If I noticed a recurring issue with the sanitation department, I would first try to resolve it myself by researching solutions online or asking my supervisor for advice. If I couldn’t find an immediate solution, I would bring up the problem at our next team meeting and ask if anyone else had experienced similar issues. This way, we could work together to come up with a solution.”

Describe your process for completing a thorough inspection of a waste collection vehicle.

The interviewer may ask you to describe your process for completing a task like this one to assess how well you follow instructions and procedures. Use examples from previous work experiences to highlight your attention to detail, ability to communicate with others and overall organizational skills.

Example: “I begin by visually inspecting the exterior of the vehicle for any damage or leaks. I then check the tires for proper inflation and inspect the undercarriage for loose parts or debris that could cause problems while driving. Next, I open the back doors to ensure all bins are properly secured and empty. Finally, I walk around the front of the truck to make sure it’s clean and ready for service.”

What makes you stand out from other candidates for this position?

Employers ask this question to learn more about your qualifications and how you can contribute to their sanitation department. When answering this question, it can be helpful to highlight a few of your strongest skills or experiences that relate to the job description.

Example: “I have five years of experience as a sanitation technician, which has given me valuable knowledge on how to keep facilities clean and sanitary. I also have an associate’s degree in sanitation technology, so I am familiar with many of the latest methods for keeping facilities safe and efficient. In my last position, I was responsible for developing new cleaning procedures and implementing them into our daily routine.”

Which sanitation equipment are you most comfortable using?

This question can help the interviewer determine your comfort level with different sanitation equipment. You should answer honestly and mention any specific equipment you have experience using.

Example: “I am most comfortable using a front-end loader, but I also feel confident operating a side loader. In my previous position, I used both types of trucks regularly. I also feel comfortable driving a garbage truck, although I don’t use one as often. I enjoy working with all types of sanitation equipment because they each offer unique benefits.”

What do you think is the most important aspect of customer service?

Customer service is an important part of any job, but it’s especially vital for sanitation technicians. You’re interacting with the public on a regular basis and need to be friendly and helpful while also being efficient. Employers ask this question to make sure you understand how important customer service is in your role. In your answer, explain what makes good customer service and share an example of when you provided excellent customer service in the past.

Example: “I think that empathy is one of the most important aspects of providing good customer service. When I’m working with customers, I try to put myself in their shoes and imagine what they might be feeling or thinking. This helps me communicate more effectively and resolve issues quickly. For instance, last week I was at a home where the family had just lost their beloved pet. They were understandably upset, so I took a few extra minutes to talk to them about their loss and offer my condolences. By doing so, I helped them feel better and gave them some peace of mind.”

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

The interviewer may ask this question to learn more about your attention to detail and how you care for the tools of your trade. Your answer should include a specific example of when you performed routine maintenance on your vehicle or equipment, including what you did and why it was important.

Example: “I perform routine maintenance on my vehicles and equipment at least once per month. I do this because regular maintenance can help prevent costly repairs later in the year. For instance, last month I noticed that one of my tires had a small nail in it. Rather than waiting until next month to replace the tire, I took the time to change it out right away so I could continue working without any interruptions.”

There is a new waste stream that you have not encountered before. How would you approach learning how to dispose of it safely?

This question can help the interviewer assess your ability to adapt to new situations and challenges. Use examples from previous experience in which you encountered a waste stream that was unfamiliar to you, researched how it should be disposed of and implemented safe disposal practices.

Example: “In my last position as a sanitation technician, I encountered a waste stream that I had never seen before. After researching the waste stream online, I learned that it was a type of medical waste that required special handling. I contacted my supervisor for advice on disposing of this waste safely. He informed me that we would need to hire a hazardous waste removal company to dispose of the waste properly.”


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