32 Janitor Interview Questions (+ Sample Answers)

Stepping into an interview can often be likened to stepping onto a stage: the spotlight is on, and the audience awaits. For janitorial candidates, the stakes are no less significant, making thorough preparation a pivotal step.

  • For Candidates, this article is a crucial toolkit to showcase your practical abilities and your dedication to cleanliness and upkeep.
  • For Interviewers, it’s a resource to help you identify those who don’t just see this job as a list of tasks but as a commitment to hygiene and order that contributes to the well-being of others.
  • For Mentors and Coaches, it’s a guide to sharpen the narratives of those you support, enabling them to present their stories with conviction and clarity.

In the following guide, we provide pivotal interview questions with sample answers, tailored to ensure you approach the janitorial interview with the confidence and knowledge needed to succeed.

Table of Contents

Skill-Level Determiner Questions

1. What procedures do you follow to sanitize areas that are frequented by large numbers of people?

This question assesses a candidate’s knowledge of robust sanitation protocols, which is essential in maintaining a hygienic environment, especially in high-traffic areas.

A good answer should include:

  • Highlight your awareness of high-touch surfaces and the need for their frequent cleaning.
  • Mention any specific cleaning agents or techniques recommended for high-traffic areas.
  • Discuss any relevant training or certifications in sanitation practices you may have.
Sample Answer:

"In high-traffic areas, I prioritize cleaning and sanitizing surfaces that are touched frequently, such as doorknobs, elevator buttons, and handrails. I use EPA-approved disinfectants, maintain proper dwell times for effectiveness, and follow a strict schedule to ensure that these areas are sanitized regularly throughout the day. 

In addition, I always wear the appropriate PPE to prevent cross-contamination and ensure my own safety."

2. What steps do you take to prevent cross-contamination when cleaning multiple areas?

This question evaluates the candidate’s understanding of proper cleaning techniques that minimize the spread of pathogens, an essential aspect in maintaining health and hygiene standards in any facility.

A good answer should include:

  • Explain the importance of using different color-coded cloths or mops for various areas.
  • Discuss the sequence in which you clean spaces to reduce the risk of cross-contamination.
  • Describe any personal protective equipment you use and why it matters.
Sample Answer:

"To prevent cross-contamination, I adhere to a color-coded system for cloths and mops to ensure they're only used in their designated areas, like restrooms vs. common areas. 

I start cleaning from the cleanest area to the dirtiest, and I use disposable gloves, changing them between tasks, as well as maintain proper hand hygiene. These practices, combined with proper staff training, are the key to maintaining sanitary conditions."

3. How do you deal with larger waste removal tasks, and what equipment do you use?

This question probes a candidate’s competency in handling substantial waste management tasks, assessing skills in logistical efficiency, waste segregation, and the operation of relevant equipment.

A good answer should include:

  • Discuss the importance of assessing the amount and type of waste.
  • Explain how you ensure the appropriate segregation and disposal of waste, following environmental and health regulations.
  • Mention any experience you have with waste compaction or hauling equipment.
Sample Answer:

"For larger waste removal tasks, I start by estimating the volume and categorizing it according to waste type: recyclable, non-recyclable, and hazardous. Depending on the quantity, I utilize equipment like a dumpster dolly for transportation or a compactor for volume reduction. 

I also coordinate pickup times with waste management services to ensure timely disposal, adhering strictly to all relevant environmental and safety guidelines."

4. How do you determine the correct dilution ratios for various cleaning chemicals, and why is this important?

This question is crucial to identify if a candidate understands the appropriate and safe use of cleaning chemicals, which impacts the effectiveness of cleaning and the safety of building occupants.

A good answer should include:

  • Detail the importance of following the manufacturer’s guidelines for dilution ratios.
  • Discuss the consequences of incorrect dilution for both safety and cleaning effectiveness.
  • Mention your experience with any dilution control systems or measuring techniques.
Sample Answer:

"Determining the correct dilution ratio for cleaning chemicals is vital for safety and to ensure the solution works effectively without damaging surfaces. I always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and use the provided measuring tools for accuracy. 

I also understand that overly concentrated solutions can be hazardous, while overly diluted solutions may not clean effectively, wasting time and resources."

5. How do you handle the sanitation of sensitive areas like kitchens or healthcare facilities?

This question gauges the candidate’s ability to adapt their cleaning techniques to environments where maintaining hygiene is critical to safety and health.

A good answer should include:

  • Indicate your knowledge of industry-specific sanitation protocols.
  • Emphasize your understanding of the risks involved with improper sanitation in these sensitive areas.
  • Recognize the importance of food safety in kitchens and infection control in healthcare settings.
Sample Answer:

"In kitchens, I enforce food safety protocols by using food-safe sanitizers and ensuring that all surfaces, especially those that come into contact with food, are properly cleaned. 

In healthcare facilities, I follow strict infection control procedures, which include using hospital-grade disinfectants and adhering to a documented sanitation regimen to prevent the spread of infection. 

Regular hand hygiene and proper PPE use are mandatory practices in both settings."

Other Skill-Level Determiner Questions:

  • How do you ensure the safe storage and disposal of cleaning chemicals?
  • What steps do you follow for the maintenance and basic troubleshooting of cleaning equipment?
  • How do you determine the level of sanitation required for different areas, such as bathrooms, kitchens, and public spaces?
  • How do you perform maintenance on cleaning equipment to ensure it remains in good working condition?

Behavioral-Based Questions

1. Discuss a time when your integrity was tested while on the job, perhaps when you found a lost item. What did you do?

This question assesses the candidate’s honesty and ethical standards. Understanding a janitor’s response to a situation involving lost items or potential theft is crucial, as it speaks to their character and trustworthiness.

A good answer should include:

  • Be honest and reflective in your response.
  • Explain the steps you took to handle the situation appropriately.
  • Highlight how you followed company policies or general moral standards in your decision.
Sample Answer (STAR Method): 

"During my shift one evening, I faced a situation that tested my integrity. A smartphone had been left in the restroom, and I knew someone must be worried about losing such a valuable item. 

The task was clear—adhere to the lost-and-found policy to ensure its safe return. I took action by promptly turning the device over to my supervisor so that it could be secured and claimed by its owner. 

The result came later when the owner retrieved their phone. They expressed deep gratitude, which reaffirmed my commitment to maintaining a high standard of honesty in the workplace."

2. Describe how you have handled a situation where you felt overwhelmed by the amount of cleaning that needed to be done.

This question evaluates how a candidate copes with stress and large workloads. Janitorial roles often demand managing multiple tasks efficiently, and employers need someone who can remain productive under pressure.

A good answer should include:

  • Discuss your time management or organizational strategies.
  • Emphasize your ability to remain calm and focused.
  • Mention any specific techniques or tools you use to manage tasks.
Sample Answer (STAR Method):

"I recall a day when the workload seemed overwhelming due to a high volume of areas needing cleaning simultaneously. The situation required efficient time management, I identified the task notation of cleaning the bathrooms and cafeteria as a priority. 

My action plan included utilizing a checklist to manage tasks effectively and taking strategic breaks to maintain focus. The result was my ability to complete all the necessary cleaning without compromising the quality of my work, even under high-pressure conditions."

3. Give an example of a time when you had to prioritize the needs of the building occupants over your planned cleaning tasks. How did you accommodate their needs while still completing your work?

This question probes the candidate’s capacity to adapt plans to accommodate unforeseen situations while still maintaining their responsibilities.

A good answer should include:

  • Explain how you assessed the urgency of the occupants’ needs.
  • Show your willingness to adjust your plans for the good of the service users.
  • Describe how you communicated with the relevant parties before and after the change in plans.
Sample Answer (STAR Method):

"One particular situation involved managing an unexpected spill in the main hall during the morning rush, a time when immediate action was pivotal to prevent accidents. The task was not only to clean the spill effectively but also to do it in a way that does not disrupt the flow of traffic. 

I took action by quickly cordoning off the affected area and addressing the spillage immediately. After ensuring safety and cleanliness were restored, I resumed my regular tasks. 

Additionally, I communicated the change in my schedule to the administration for full transparency. The result was a safe and orderly environment, with minimal disruption to the building's occupants."

4. Describe a situation where you had to manage cleaning in an area that was still being utilized by people. How did you ensure their comfort and the effectiveness of your work?

This question measures the candidate’s ability to work around others sensitively and efficiently. It’s important for janitors to perform their duties without causing unnecessary disruption.

A good answer should include:

  • Highlight your communication skills with the individuals present in the area.
  • Talk about your ability to perform tasks discreetly and respect others’ space.
  • Mention any specific strategies or equipment used to minimize disruption.
Sample Answer (STAR Method):

"There was an occasion where I had to ensure that my work in the library didn't infringe upon the quiet and usage of the space by its patrons. 

In this situation, my task was to clean the space efficiently while maintaining a comfortable environment for library users. I took action by working discretely, using signage to inform patrons of wet floors, and avoiding any blockage in the aisles. 

The result was a clean, orderly library space and the appreciation of library patrons for the considerate manner in which I carried out my work."

5. Have you ever had to communicate environmental or cleaning supply needs to management? Please talk about how you approached this communication.

This question assesses a candidate’s communication skills and initiative, determining their ability to effectively report supply shortages and environmental issues to management, thereby maintaining facility standards.

A good answer should include:

  • Be specific about what was communicated and why it was important.
  • Discuss your attention to detail and proactive approach.
  • Explain how you maintained professionalism and clarity in your communication.
Sample Answer (STAR Method):

"I spotted a potential issue when I noticed our supplies of eco-friendly cleaning agents running low. Understanding the importance of these supplies to our environmental standards, my task was to ensure continuity in our green cleaning practices. 

My action step was to meticulously document our inventory and draft a request for the necessary products. I then communicated this effectively to my manager. The result of this proactive measure was a well-stocked inventory, which allowed us to continue our cleaning operations without any decline in our green cleaning efficacy."

Other Behavioral-Based Questions:

  • Discuss a moment when you had to complete your janitorial tasks in a very tight timeframe. How did you manage your time and prioritize tasks?
  • Tell us about a time when you identified a potential safety hazard while performing your duties and what actions you took to address it.
  • Share an example of how you dealt with a particularly stressful day on the job and still managed to complete all your cleaning tasks.

Situational-Based Questions

1. The cleaning product you normally use is causing an adverse reaction for someone in the building. How would you proceed to address their health concern while still completing your task?

This question assesses the candidate’s problem-solving skills and how they balance health and safety concerns with their responsibilities.

A good answer should include:

  • Express empathy towards the individual’s health concerns and take them seriously.
  • Demonstrate your knowledge of alternative cleaning methods or products.
  • Show that you can communicate effectively with affected parties and supervisors.
Sample Answer: 

"Upon noticing or being informed of an adverse reaction, my first step would be to ensure the safety of the individual affected. I would report the issue to my supervisor immediately and discuss alternatives, such as switching to a hypoallergenic or non-chemical-based cleaning product. 

I'd make sure that the new product is both effective for cleaning and safe for all occupants. Furthermore, I'd keep the affected individual informed of the changes implemented to address the concern."

2. Suppose you’re cleaning near a personal workspace, and the occupant is clearly bothered by noise or disruption. How do you manage this situation to ensure you’re respectful yet efficient?

This question evaluates the candidate’s interpersonal skills and ability to perform their duties with minimal disruption to others.

A good answer should include:

  • Acknowledge the importance of the occupant’s comfort and focus.
  • Suggest ways to minimize noise, such as using quieter tools or techniques.
  • Consider the possibility of adjusting cleaning times to less disruptive periods.
Sample Answer: 

"If an occupant seemed disturbed by my cleaning, I would first apologize for any inconvenience I might be causing. I would then offer to come back at a time that is more convenient for them, if possible, or find quieter methods to perform my tasks. 

Maintaining open communication would be key to ensure their workspace is clean while respecting their need for a quiet environment."

3. How would you prioritize your cleaning duties if you arrive at work to find that there’s been a significant weather event overnight, such as a flood or storm debris, impacting multiple areas of the facility?

This question assesses how the candidate handles emergency scenarios that require immediate attention and prioritization.

A good answer should include:

  • Highlight your ability to quickly assess the situation and determine the most critical areas in need of attention.
  • Mention the importance of following any established emergency protocols.
  • Discuss the value of efficient communication with your supervisors and other involved parties.
Sample Answer: 

"In the event of a significant weather impact, my first priority would be to secure the safety of all building users by addressing any immediate hazards, such as slippery floors or broken glass. 

I would communicate with my supervisor to receive or provide updates on the situation. Together, we'd create a plan to tackle the most affected areas first, ensuring that the facility becomes operational safely and promptly."

4. If you were asked to do something outside of your job description, such as helping set up for an event while also needing to complete your janitorial duties, how would you handle this situation?

This question measures the candidate’s flexibility and willingness to go beyond their usual tasks. It also checks how they manage time effectively and work within a team setting.

A good answer should include:

  • Showcase your positive attitude towards teamwork and willingness to assist beyond your job description.
  • Talk about effective time management to handle additional responsibilities.
  • Emphasize the importance of clear communication with your supervisors regarding your capacity.
Sample Answer: 

"While my primary responsibility remains to ensure the cleanliness of the facility, I'm open to helping with event setup if needed. I would first communicate with my supervisor about the request to ensure that my regular duties can be adjusted accordingly without neglecting critical areas. 

Then I would effectively manage my time to fulfill both roles efficiently, possibly by arriving earlier or enlisting the help of another team member if necessary."

5. If you are approached by a group of individuals expressing dissatisfaction with the cleanliness of the facility during an event, what steps would you take?

This question explores the candidate’s customer service skills and ability to handle criticism constructively.

A good answer should include:

  • Display active listening and empathy toward the individuals’ concerns.
  • Emphasize immediate and appropriate actions to address any cleanliness issues brought to your attention.
  • Explain how you would use the feedback for continual improvement of cleaning standards.
Sample Answer: 

"I would first listen carefully to understand their concerns thoroughly and apologize for any inconvenience caused. I would assess the situation myself and take immediate steps to rectify any cleanliness issues. 

After resolving the issue, I would check back with the individuals to ensure they are satisfied with the outcome. Furthermore, I would report the feedback to my supervisor to help improve our procedures for future events."

Other Situational Questions:

  • How would you address a conflict if a colleague consistently leaves their area more disorganized or dirtier than expected, making your job more difficult?
  • In the event of a power outage while you are working, what steps would you take to ensure safety and continue your duties if possible?
  • If you’re scheduled to clean areas that are simultaneously booked for events, how do you plan your cleaning to avoid disrupting the events?
  • If you are cleaning in an area and notice that occupants are not adhering to the recycling policy, what actions would you take to address this issue?

Organizational Fit Questions

1. What methods do you use to stay motivated during repetitive tasks, and how do you think that will help you in this role?

This question assesses the candidate’s ability to maintain a high level of performance despite the potential monotony of daily cleaning tasks.

A good answer should include:

  • Discuss specific strategies or mindsets that help you stay focused during routine work.
  • Emphasize the importance of motivation in maintaining high standards of cleanliness.
  • Describe how these strategies ensure efficiency and attention to detail.
Sample Answer: 

"To stay motivated during repetitive tasks, I set small, achievable goals for myself throughout the day, which gives me a sense of accomplishment and progress. I also mix up the order of tasks when possible, to add variety. 

Additionally, I take pride in knowing that my work contributes to a healthy and safe environment for the building occupants. In this role, my motivation methods will ensure that every area is cleaned to the highest standards, reflecting well on the organization and ensuring occupant satisfaction."

2. Discuss your experience working with a multicultural staff and how you approach communication and collaboration within diverse teams.

This question examines the candidate’s cultural competency and their ability to work harmoniously in diverse environments, which is essential in today’s global workforce.

A good answer should include:

  • Share experiences that demonstrate respect, adaptability, and effective communication with colleagues from various backgrounds.
  • Highlight your ability to learn from and appreciate diverse perspectives.
  • Show that you can contribute to a respectful and inclusive work environment.
Sample Answer: 

"In my past role, our janitorial team was composed of individuals from several different cultures. I made it a point to learn basic greetings in the languages spoken by my coworkers, which helped build rapport and a friendly work atmosphere. 

We also established clear, simple communication methods to ensure everyone was on the same page regardless of language barriers. This experience has taught me the value of diversity and I'm confident it will allow me to seamlessly integrate into and contribute positively to your organization's multicultural environment."

3. Are you comfortable working independently, and how do you ensure that your work meets the organization’s standards without direct supervision?

This query is aimed at understanding the candidate’s ability to self-manage and maintain quality control of their own work.

A good answer should include:

  • Discuss your comfort level with autonomy and your self-discipline in completing tasks.
  • Mention any methods you use to self-audit or review your work against set standards.
  • Explain how you ensure that independent work aligns with the overall goals of the organization.
Sample Answer: 

"I thrive in independent work settings, as demonstrated when I single-handedly managed the facility's closing routines. I maintain high standards by adhering to a checklist I created and regularly checking my work, all while actively seeking feedback to continually improve my performance. 

My independence ensures meticulous attention to detail and upholds the organization's exemplary standards."

Other Organizational Fit Questions:

  • Explain how you deal with periods of high work demand, such as during holiday seasons or large organizational events, and how you maintain the quality of your work.
  • We often work in environments with changing priorities. How would you adjust if the cleaning schedule or protocol was altered last minute?

Job Interview Tips

  • Share specifics about the types of buildings you’ve maintained, the cleaning techniques you’re proficient in, and any specialized equipment you’re familiar with.
  • Be prepared to discuss your experience with various cleaning agents, your ability to handle them safely, and your understanding of their environmental impact.
  • Employers value janitors who can take initiative and work unsupervised. Give examples of how you’ve managed tasks and solved problems on your own.

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Brenda Calisaan is a psychology graduate who strongly desires to impact society positively. She aspires to spread awareness and knowledge about mental health, its importance, and its impact on individuals and society.

She also has a passion for working with children and hopes to dedicate her career to positively impacting their lives.

Outside of work, Brenda is an avid traveler and enjoys exploring new experiences. She is also a music enthusiast and loves to listen to a variety of genres. When she's not on the road or working, Brenda can often be found watching interesting YouTube videos, such as Ted-Ed content.