Interview Questions

Comprehensive Interview Guide: 60+ Professions Explored in Detail

Read More

15 Most Common Janitor Interview Questions and Answers

By Sherice Jacob

Published:

Whether you’re just starting or a seasoned pro looking for a change, understanding the common interview questions and how to respond can be a game-changer. With these janitor interview questions and answers, we delve into the questions often posed to prospective janitors, reflecting on the duties, problem-solving, teamwork, and even personal motivations. Here’s what you need to know:


What qualities and skills are hiring managers looking for in a Janitor?

  • Attention to Detail

An effective janitor must be detail-oriented. The ability to notice and clean small, often overlooked areas, and fix minor problems before they escalate is essential.

  • Reliability

Managers need janitors they can count on to consistently show up on time and complete all assigned tasks. A reliable janitor helps maintain a clean, safe environment for everyone.

  • Physical Stamina and Strength

Janitorial work can be physically demanding. It often involves being on your feet for extended periods, lifting heavy objects, and performing repetitive tasks. Thus, physical stamina and strength are crucial.

  • Problem-Solving Skills

Janitors often face different challenges daily, from equipment breakdowns to tricky cleaning tasks. The ability to think on your feet and resolve issues independently is highly desirable.

  • Interpersonal Skills

While janitors might work behind the scenes, they often interact with various people, including staff, management, and visitors. Being respectful, approachable, and professional is important for this role.


15 most common Janitor interview questions and answers

1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background in janitorial work?

When asking “tell me about yourself“, the hiring manager seeks to know your personal journey, focusing on experiences and skills relevant to the janitorial job. They want to understand how your background has prepared you for the role and what you could bring to the team.

Do’s

  • Highlight your relevant work experiences, training, or certifications.
  • Show how past roles have equipped you with skills applicable to the job.
  • Keep your answer concise and focused on professional experiences.
  • Mention any specific projects or achievements that showcase your abilities.
  • Show enthusiasm and a positive attitude towards the janitorial profession.

Don’ts

  • Don’t stray into personal life stories unrelated to the job.
  • Don’t overstate or lie about your experience.
  • Don’t speak negatively about past employers or colleagues.
  • Don’t give overly lengthy answers.
  • Don’t leave out any janitorial roles from your past, even if they were short-term or part-time.

Sample Answer:

“I’ve been in the janitorial field for over five years now. I started off as a custodian at a local school where I learned the basics of maintaining a large, high-traffic facility. After two years, I moved on to a commercial cleaning company where I expanded my skill set, handling more specialized tasks such as floor waxing and deep-cleaning carpets.”

2. Why are you looking for a new job?

Through this question, the hiring manager wants to understand your motivations for seeking a new job and ensure that your reasons align well with what the company can offer. It’s an opportunity for them to gauge your long-term commitment to the role.

Do’s

  • Be honest about your reasons for seeking a new job.
  • Frame your answer in a positive light, focusing on what you hope to gain or achieve.
  • If applicable, discuss how this job aligns better with your career goals.
  • Use this opportunity to show enthusiasm for the potential new role.
  • Mention any growth opportunities or skills you’d like to develop.

Don’ts

  • Don’t criticize your current or former employers.
  • Don’t focus solely on benefits like salary or vacation time.
  • Don’t give the impression that you’re simply looking for any job.
  • Don’t express dissatisfaction with your current role without explaining how the potential job would address those issues.
  • Don’t provide answers that suggest you may not stick around long.

Sample Answer:

“I’ve learned a lot from my current position and have had the opportunity to work with some fantastic people. However, I feel that I’m ready for a new challenge where I can leverage my skills on a larger scale. I’m particularly attracted to this role because it offers the opportunity to be part of a bigger team, where I can continue to learn, grow, and make a significant impact on maintaining high standards of cleanliness.”

3. What is your greatest strength?

This question is meant to reveal your self-awareness and understanding of how your key strengths align with the role of a janitor. The hiring manager wants to hear about a genuine strength that can contribute to your success in the job.

Do’s

  • Choose a strength that directly relates to the job of a janitor.
  • Provide concrete examples to illustrate your strength.
  • Explain how your strength could benefit the team or the organization.
  • Be honest and authentic.
  • Make sure to exude confidence when speaking about your strength.

Don’ts

  • Don’t provide cliché or generic answers.
  • Don’t choose a strength that’s not relevant to the job.
  • Don’t exaggerate or lie about your strengths.
  • Don’t be overly modest or dismissive of your strength.
  • Don’t neglect to provide a concrete example to back up your statement.

Sample Answer:

“One of my greatest strengths is my attention to detail. In my previous janitorial role, I was often praised for my ability to notice and address minor cleaning issues that others might overlook. For instance, I was able to identify and remedy a small mold problem in a rarely-used storage area before it became a bigger issue. This attention to detail, I believe, ensures a cleaner and safer environment for everyone in the facility.”

4. Can you describe a challenging situation you’ve encountered in a previous position and how you resolved it?

When being asked to describe a challenge, the hiring manager is interested in your problem-solving skills and how you handle challenges or difficult situations at work. It also provides insight into your decision-making process and your ability to work under pressure.

Do’s

  • Select a real-life situation that shows your ability to solve a problem relevant to the janitorial work.
  • Describe the situation briefly but clearly, highlighting the challenge.
  • Explain the steps you took to resolve the situation.
  • Discuss what you learned from the experience.
  • Showcase your problem-solving, decision-making, or interpersonal skills.

Don’ts

  • Don’t choose a situation that doesn’t demonstrate your problem-solving ability.
  • Don’t blame others or show negativity while describing the challenge.
  • Don’t make up a scenario or exaggerate a real situation.
  • Don’t leave out the result of the situation.
  • Don’t forget to highlight the skills or qualities you used to address the situation.

Sample Answer:

“During my time working at a high school, we had a significant event scheduled on a Monday morning. Unfortunately, on the preceding weekend, a pipe burst in the main hall, flooding the area. I was called in to help manage the situation. Understanding the importance of the event, I immediately coordinated with the maintenance team and a plumbing service to fix the leak. Simultaneously, I arranged for rental of commercial-grade water removal equipment. We worked through the weekend to clean and dry out the area, ensuring the event could proceed as planned.”

5. How would your coworkers describe you?

The hiring manager poses this question to understand how well you collaborate with others, as well as your self-awareness and ability to reflect on how others perceive you. It provides insights into your interpersonal skills and your fit within a team-based environment.

Do’s

  • Reflect on positive feedback you’ve received from colleagues in the past.
  • Align your response with the job requirements and desired qualities for a janitor.
  • Be truthful and authentic with your answer.
  • Discuss qualities or behaviors that make you a valuable team member.
  • You can also talk about constructive criticism you’ve received and how you’ve used it to improve.

Don’ts

  • Don’t make up positive feedback or invent non-existent colleagues’ quotes.
  • Don’t only focus on your technical skills; highlight your interpersonal attributes as well.
  • Don’t claim to be perfect or universally liked.
  • Don’t ignore the question’s emphasis on teamwork and collaboration.
  • Don’t provide an overly generalized or vague response.

Sample Answer:

“My former colleagues have often described me as reliable and hardworking. They’ve appreciated my dedication to maintaining a clean, safe environment and my willingness to go the extra mile, especially during urgent situations. Additionally, they’ve praised my team spirit and my readiness to lend a hand whenever someone needed assistance. Of course, I’ve always been open to feedback and continually look for ways to improve.”

6. What types of cleaning equipment and materials are you familiar with? How do you ensure proper maintenance and safe usage?

The hiring manager uses this question to gauge your practical experience and technical knowledge in using various cleaning equipment and materials. They’re also interested in how well you understand the importance of maintaining these tools and ensuring their safe usage.

Do’s

  • Mention specific tools, machines, or cleaning products you’ve used in previous roles.
  • Discuss safety measures you take when using these tools or materials.
  • Talk about the importance of regular maintenance and cleaning of equipment.
  • Highlight any training you’ve received for specific equipment.
  • Discuss your knowledge of safe chemical handling and storage, if applicable.

Don’ts

  • Don’t generalize or be vague about your experience.
  • Don’t pretend to have experience with equipment or materials you’re unfamiliar with.
  • Don’t ignore the safety aspect of the question.
  • Don’t fail to discuss maintenance routines for equipment.
  • Don’t underestimate the importance of this practical knowledge for the janitorial role.

Sample Answer:

“In my past roles, I’ve had experience with a variety of cleaning equipment such as commercial vacuum cleaners, carpet cleaners, and floor buffers. I’ve also used various cleaning products, both chemical and eco-friendly. To ensure their safe usage, I always use appropriate protective gear and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. I understand that maintaining equipment is key to their longevity and effectiveness, so I make sure to clean them after each use and perform regular checks for any signs of damage or malfunction. If a machine is not functioning properly, I report it immediately to ensure it’s fixed or replaced.”

7. How do you prioritize your tasks when you have multiple areas to clean within a given time frame?

The hiring manager is keen to understand your time management, prioritization, and organizational skills with this question. They want to know how you handle multiple responsibilities and ensure all tasks are completed effectively and on time.

Do’s

  • Mention any methods or strategies you use for prioritizing tasks.
  • Show that you understand the importance of being organized and managing your time well.
  • Discuss your ability to adapt and adjust your plan based on unexpected situations or changes in priorities.
  • Talk about how you balance speed with thoroughness and attention to detail.
  • Highlight any relevant examples from your past experience.

Don’ts

  • Don’t suggest you only work in a reactive manner without any planning or prioritization.
  • Don’t ignore the importance of maintaining a high quality of work even when dealing with multiple tasks.
  • Don’t forget to mention how you handle unexpected situations.
  • Don’t pretend you’ve never faced challenges with time management.
  • Don’t overlook the opportunity to show your proactivity and responsibility.

Sample Answer:

“When tasked with cleaning multiple areas within a specific time frame, I start by making a list of all the tasks that need to be done. I then prioritize them based on various factors, such as their urgency, the amount of traffic in the area, and any specific instructions. For instance, restrooms and high-traffic areas usually need more immediate attention. I also take into account the time required for different tasks. However, I stay flexible and ready to adjust my plan if something unexpected comes up, like a spill or urgent cleaning request..”

8. Can you describe your experience working with hazardous materials, such as chemicals? How do you ensure the safety of yourself and others while handling them?

This question aims to understand your experience and knowledge about handling hazardous materials typically used in janitorial work. The hiring manager wants to ensure you can perform your duties safely, protecting yourself, colleagues, and building occupants.

Do’s

  • Share any experience you have with handling chemicals or other hazardous materials.
  • Discuss the safety protocols you follow when using these substances.
  • Mention any training or certifications you have related to hazardous materials handling.
  • Highlight your understanding of the importance of safety in your job.
  • Talk about the precautions you take to ensure others’ safety in areas where hazardous materials are used.

Don’ts

  • Don’t ignore or downplay the importance of safety protocols.
  • Don’t claim knowledge or experience you do not possess.
  • Don’t forget to mention any relevant training.
  • Don’t overlook the part about ensuring others’ safety.
  • Don’t make light of the risks associated with hazardous materials.

Sample Answer:

“In my previous positions, I have used various chemicals for cleaning and disinfection. I understand that these substances, while effective, can be hazardous if not handled correctly. To ensure my safety and that of others, I always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use. I use protective equipment such as gloves and goggles, and ensure the area is well ventilated. After using chemicals, I make sure to properly store them out of reach of untrained personnel or visitors. I have also completed a training course on hazardous materials handling, which has equipped me with the knowledge to handle these substances safely and responsibly.”

9. In your opinion, what is the most important aspect of maintaining a clean and sanitary environment in a public or work setting?

The hiring manager asks this question to gauge your understanding of the role and your perspective on janitorial work. They want to understand what you prioritize or consider the most significant in maintaining a clean environment.

Do’s

  • Provide a thoughtful and informed answer based on your experiences.
  • Link your response to key aspects of janitorial work.
  • Highlight the impact of your chosen aspect on the public, employees, or the business.
  • Showcase your dedication to high cleanliness standards.
  • Discuss how you contribute to this important aspect in your work.

Don’ts

  • Don’t provide a shallow or uninformed answer.
  • Don’t ignore the larger impact of cleanliness and sanitation on health and safety.
  • Don’t undervalue the importance of maintaining a clean and sanitary environment.
  • Don’t provide an answer that suggests you disregard other important aspects of your job.
  • Don’t forget to connect your role to the broader purpose of cleanliness and sanitation.

Sample Answer:

“In my opinion, the most important aspect of maintaining a clean and sanitary environment, especially in a public or work setting, is consistency. Regular, thorough cleaning and maintenance prevent buildup of dirt and germs, and it creates a healthier environment for everyone. It’s not just about making a place look clean; it’s about ensuring it’s genuinely clean, reducing the spread of diseases and contributing to the overall health of the occupants.”

10. How do you handle situations where you encounter biohazardous materials, such as blood or bodily fluids?

This question allows the hiring manager to evaluate your knowledge and experience in handling biohazardous materials, which is often a part of a janitor’s responsibilities. They want to ensure that you can handle such situations safely and appropriately.

Do’s

  • Discuss any training you’ve had in handling biohazardous materials.
  • Explain the steps you take to ensure safety when dealing with biohazards.
  • Highlight your understanding of the risks associated with biohazardous materials.
  • Speak about the importance of following proper disposal protocols.
  • Mention your knowledge of the company’s or industry’s regulations regarding biohazard handling.

Don’ts

  • Don’t claim knowledge or training you don’t have.
  • Don’t ignore the importance of following safety procedures and protocols.
  • Don’t minimize the risks associated with handling biohazardous materials.
  • Don’t forget to mention proper disposal methods.
  • Don’t overlook the aspect of personal protection when dealing with such materials.

Sample Answer:

“When encountering biohazardous materials such as blood or bodily fluids, safety is paramount. I’ve received training in handling biohazards and know the importance of using personal protective equipment like gloves, face shields, and sometimes protective gowns.

 My first step is to isolate the area to prevent others from coming into contact with the biohazard. I then clean and disinfect the area thoroughly using approved disinfectant solutions to ensure no harmful pathogens remain. Finally, I carefully dispose of any cleaning materials and protective equipment according to regulations to avoid further contamination.”

11. Are you familiar with any green cleaning practices? How do you incorporate eco-friendly methods into your work?

The hiring manager is looking to understand your awareness and application of environmentally friendly practices within your role. This demonstrates your commitment to sustainability and potentially reducing the environmental impact of your work.

Do’s

  • Mention any specific green cleaning practices or products you’re familiar with.
  • Discuss how you incorporate these methods into your work.
  • Talk about the benefits of green cleaning methods.
  • Highlight any training or education you have received in this area.
  • If you don’t have direct experience, show your willingness to learn and adopt these methods.

Don’ts

  • Don’t exaggerate or lie about your knowledge or experience with green cleaning practices.
  • Don’t ignore the importance of sustainability in modern workplaces.
  • Don’t underestimate the benefits of eco-friendly methods.
  • Don’t neglect to mention any training or certifications you might have.
  • Don’t forget to discuss how you apply these practices in your work.

Sample Answer:

“Yes, I’m a big advocate for green cleaning practices. In my previous role, I was responsible for introducing eco-friendly cleaning products into our regular routine. These products are less harmful to the environment and often safer for people too. In addition, I try to minimize water waste during cleaning tasks by using just enough to do the job effectively. I also recommend reusable microfiber cloths which trap dust and dirt effectively without the need for chemical cleaning agents.”

12. Can you describe your experience in performing minor maintenance tasks, such as changing light bulbs or fixing leaks?

Through this question, the hiring manager is exploring your range of skills beyond standard cleaning tasks. They want to understand if you are capable of performing minor maintenance tasks, which are often part of a janitor’s responsibilities.

Do’s

  • Mention any specific maintenance tasks you’ve performed in previous roles.
  • Highlight your knowledge about safety procedures while performing these tasks.
  • Discuss your problem-solving skills in the context of these tasks.
  • Show your willingness to take on these tasks as part of your role.
  • If relevant, talk about any training you’ve had in these areas.

Don’ts

  • Don’t overstate your abilities if you’re not comfortable or trained in maintenance tasks.
  • Don’t neglect the safety aspects of performing maintenance duties.
  • Don’t dismiss the importance of these skills for a janitorial role.
  • Don’t ignore any relevant experience you’ve had.
  • Don’t overlook the opportunity to showcase your versatility.

Sample Answer:

“Absolutely, in my previous roles as a janitor, I’ve often been called upon to perform minor maintenance tasks. I’ve replaced light bulbs, fixed leaks, adjusted heating and cooling systems, and even did some minor repairs on cleaning equipment. I’m always cautious about safety while performing these tasks, such as turning off the power when changing light bulbs or using the correct tools for the job. I find these tasks provide a nice variety to my role and allow me to contribute to the smooth running of the facility in more ways than just cleaning.”

13. How do you maintain a consistent level of cleanliness in high-traffic areas, such as restrooms, break rooms, or entryways?

The hiring manager asks this question to assess your strategies and work ethic in maintaining cleanliness in areas that require frequent attention. This is essential to understand your approach to maintaining a healthy and presentable environment in high-traffic areas.

Do’s

  • Discuss your routine or plan for maintaining cleanliness in high-traffic areas.
  • Highlight your attention to detail and consistency.
  • Mention any specific tools, equipment, or materials you find particularly effective for these areas.
  • Show your understanding of the importance of cleanliness in these areas for health and aesthetics.
  • Discuss how you adapt to unexpected situations or peak times.

Don’ts

  • Don’t neglect to explain your process or strategy.
  • Don’t underestimate the importance of maintaining cleanliness in these areas.
  • Don’t ignore the aspect of dealing with unexpected mess or peak usage times.
  • Don’t forget to mention the tools and equipment you use.
  • Don’t overlook the importance of regular monitoring and quick response.

Sample Answer:

“I schedule regular cleaning for these areas throughout the day, paying particular attention to peak times when they’re used the most. I ensure surfaces are not just visually clean, but sanitized using appropriate cleaning products

I frequently check these areas for any unexpected mess and address it promptly to prevent it from building up or causing inconvenience. Tools like high-quality mops and commercial-grade disinfectants are critical for this task. I understand that these areas are a reflection of the organization’s cleanliness standards to its employees and visitors, so I take the upkeep very seriously.”

14. What steps do you take to ensure you are aware of and follow any facility-specific cleaning protocols or guidelines?

This question is intended to understand your approach to learning, adapting to, and adhering to facility-specific cleaning protocols. The hiring manager wants to ensure that you respect the unique requirements of each facility and follow the established guidelines.

Do’s

  • Mention how you familiarize yourself with new protocols or guidelines.
  • Highlight your commitment to following the rules and maintaining high standards.
  • Discuss how you keep yourself updated on any changes to these protocols.
  • Share any experience you have with specialized or unique cleaning requirements.
  • Show your adaptability to different environments or requirements.

Don’ts

  • Don’t suggest you rely solely on past experience and disregard facility-specific protocols.
  • Don’t ignore the importance of staying updated on any changes to these protocols.
  • Don’t neglect to demonstrate your commitment to quality and adherence to guidelines.
  • Don’t miss out on explaining how you learn and adapt to new guidelines.
  • Don’t downplay the importance of understanding the unique needs of each facility.

Sample Answer:

“When I start work in a new facility, the first thing I do is familiarize myself with any specific cleaning protocols or guidelines. This might involve studying written instructions, consulting with a supervisor, or receiving training.

I understand that each facility may have its unique requirements due to the nature of the work conducted there, the types of materials used, or specific safety considerations. I keep a reference of these protocols and review them regularly to ensure my practices remain compliant. In case of updates or changes, I make sure to understand the new requirements thoroughly and adapt my practices accordingly.” 

15. How do you stay updated on new cleaning techniques, products, or equipment to continuously improve your skills as a janitor?

With this question, the hiring manager wants to know if you actively keep up with industry trends and improve your skills. It shows your commitment to growth and adaptability to new methods or technologies, which are essential in today’s rapidly evolving world.

Do’s

  • Discuss any resources you use to stay updated, such as trade magazines, online forums, or industry conferences.
  • Talk about your willingness to learn and improve.
  • Mention any recent innovations or trends you have adopted in your work.
  • Highlight any training or courses you have taken to enhance your skills.
  • Share your approach to implementing new techniques or using new products or equipment.

Don’ts

  • Don’t give the impression that you’re stuck in old ways and resistant to change.
  • Don’t forget to mention specific sources of industry information.
  • Don’t neglect the importance of continuous learning in your role.
  • Don’t ignore recent innovations or trends in the cleaning industry.
  • Don’t downplay your initiative in adopting new techniques or equipment.

Sample Answer:

“I believe that continuous learning and staying updated is crucial in every profession, including janitorial work. I regularly read industry magazines and online articles to learn about the latest cleaning techniques, products, and equipment. 

I also try to stay informed about environmentally friendly cleaning practices and products, as sustainability is an essential consideration nowadays. When I come across a new technique or product, I like to learn about it thoroughly and, if appropriate, try it out to see how it can improve my work.”

Your Next Steps to Landing a Janitor Job

From handling biohazardous materials to performing minor maintenance tasks, and ensuring high cleanliness standards in high-traffic areas to following specific facility protocols, a janitor’s role is multifaceted. Equally, demonstrating a willingness to stay updated with the latest trends and improvements in cleaning practices shows initiative and dedication to the profession.

A janitor’s contribution extends beyond cleanliness—it encompasses contributing to a healthier, safer, and more productive environment for everyone. So, as you prepare for your janitorial interview, focus on presenting yourself as a well-rounded candidate who understands the complexities of the job and is ready to rise to the challenge.


Sherice Jacob

About the Author

Read more articles by Sherice Jacob