For professionals planning to interview for a cleaning job, it is often beneficial to prepare answers to common questions. Hiring managers who interview for cleaning positions can test a professional’s knowledge of products and techniques, but they can also ask about your personality and the soft skills you have, such as communication and conflict resolution. It is helpful to learn what questions the interviewer may ask so that you can prepare specific and thorough answers. In this article, we list 54 potential janitorial job interview questions you may encounter and share five sample answers you can reference.
General Interview Questions
Hiring managers often want to learn about a candidate’s personality and work style to see if they fit their team. Here are some general questions you may encounter when interviewing for a janitorial job:
- Tell me about yourself.
- Tell me how you work with others on the team.
- How would your former supervisor describe you?
- What strategies do you use to motivate yourself?
- How do you respond to criticism?
- How do you develop new skills?
- Why do you enjoy cleaning?
- Tell me about your greatest strength and greatest weakness.
- Are you comfortable working on your feet?
- Can you lift heavy objects?
- Tell me about an achievement you are proud of.
- What is your ultimate career goal?
- Why are you searching for fresh work?
- How did you catch out about this employment?
- What personality traits make you a good cleaner?
- What are your values?
Questions about Experience and Background
Once the interviewer learns more about you, they can move on to asking about your cleaning experience and knowledge. During these interviews it is often important to demonstrate that you are competent and understand the basic principles of maintenance and hygiene. Here are some questions the interviewer might ask about your background and experience:
- What cleaning products and tools do you often use?
- What cleaning tasks have you performed in past roles?
- Do you have experience with outdoor cleaning?
- What types of equipment and machinery did you clean?
- Tell me about health and safety policies you know.
- Do you have any experience with ecological cleaning products?
- How do you use customer service skills in cleaning jobs?
- Do you know how to clean computer screens?
- Can you use an electric washing machine?
- Are you comfortable working with children or animals?
- Do you have experience with professional cleaning of clothes and laundry?
- Tell me about a cleaning skill you recently learned.
- What was the largest area you cleaned?
- Tell me about a time you made a cleaning mistake.
- Did you have other jobs besides cleaning? What skills have you acquired in these roles?
- What was the most difficult situation you encountered as a cleaner?
- Have you ever trained a colleague?
Many hiring managers also want to know if a candidate has hard skills and industry knowledge before hiring them. Here are some in-depth questions you may be asked during a cleaning job interview:
- Tell me about a time when you needed to clean a large area with a tight deadline.
- How often should you clean tools?
- Do you clean when customers are around?
- How do you clean the bathroom?
- If you found a lost item while cleaning, what would you do?
- How do you know you have successfully cleaned an area?
- Tell me about a time when you spoke to a disgruntled client.
- Is organization important as a cleaner?
- Tell me about your garbage disposal procedure.
- What is your system for keeping records of your work?
- What would you do if you saw a colleague stealing the property you are cleaning?
- How do you balance multiple cleaning projects at once?
- How do you approach efficiency in your work?
- Tell me about a time when you used customer service skills at work.
- Have you ever managed a team of cleaning professionals?
Interview Questions with Model Answers
Preparing answers to common interview questions will help you feel prepared and confident. When creating answers, try to give specific answers and include examples if you can. Here are some sample answers you can use as a reference as you prepare for your cleaning interview:
1. Are you open for weekend, late night and morning shifts?
It is important to show the interviewer that you are flexible when answering this question. Even if it’s a simple question that can elicit a yes or no answer, you can still be specific in your answer. By explaining why you like to work different shifts, you can highlight that you are positive and can stay productive in any environment.
Example: “I’m open to working all shifts and sometimes I enjoy working odd hours. I enjoy cleaning in an empty building so I can really focus on work and move efficiently without disrupting meetings or distracting anyone. I don’t mind working on day shifts because I also enjoy interacting with others.”
2. Tell me about your approach to cleaning wood, metal and granite. How is each material different?
This question offers you an opportunity to demonstrate your cleaning expertise. Consider discussing which products and tools you use on specific surfaces. You can also share an example of a time when you worked with a particular material.
Example: “It’s important to treat each material differently because they have different levels of sensitivity. So I clean wood by mixing distilled vinegar with warm water and gently wiping with a soft, damp cloth and I create my personal wood polish using olive oil and white vinegar.
I always use soap and warm water to clean granite as strong chemicals like bleach or acids including lemon can damage the granite. My method of metal is subject to its properties. I worked as a cleaner at a restaurant that had stainless steel fridges and I found the best way to clean them was to soak a towel in hot water, wring it out and gently wipe along the grain.”
3. If a colleague keeps spilling products that are difficult to clean up, how would you approach the situation?
This is a behavioral question, which means it tests your response to common situations that may occur while performing tasks. A successful answer to this question could outline a time when you handled a similar situation with ease.
Example: “My primacy is always to clean up leaks proficiently, so first I would try to use this as a learning prospect by discovering a result. If cleaning up a spill is taking so long that it is affecting my productivity, I would talk to my supervisor.” about.
I used to clean a school and students often spilled glue on the carpet. I found that warm water and dish soap loosened the dried glue, but we couldn’t shampoo the carpets until we got all the glue off, which slowed our process down considerably. My colleague and I told our manager and together we decided that the teachers should cover the floors with plastic sheets before the students use the glue.’
4. Have you ever unexpectedly used too much detergent? What did you do?
Problem solving is an essential skill for cleaners, and your answer to this question can highlight your ability to respond to unforeseen circumstances. When answering this question, try to demonstrate your ability to remain calm and productive even in stressful situations.
Example: “Yes, I unexpectedly ran out of product. I once worked off-site at an event my company was hosting. When I was gathering cleaning supplies for the day, I packed double the amount I expected because I always aim to be prepared. When we arrived at the venue, the group left the room before us in a mess, there was food on the counter, dishes in the sink and spilled on the floor.
I worked efficiently to clean the area before our guests arrived, but I used all of my anti-bacterial solution before the event started. Then I collected my thoughts in private and considered the alternatives. My next thought was that I had vinegar, peppermint essential oil and access to a sink with warm water. I cleaned out an empty spray bottle and combined the three ingredients to make my own sanitizing solution. I used it after our event and my manager even got an email from the venue complimenting us on how well we cleaned up.”
5. What do you do when you cannot remove a stain from an item?
This question will test your problem solving and communication skills. Try to craft an answer that shows the interviewer that you can deliver challenging news to clients while offering a solution. You can also highlight your effort and promise to shine by clarifying how you handle a stimulating stain.
Example: “I like knowledge about new cleaning utensils and mingling up new resolutions to handle tenacious stains. I worked for a family who accidentally spilled strawberry juice on an antique tablecloth. They thought they’d tried everything but washed it in warm water. I used boiling hot water and vinegar and the stain rose so much that it was barely visible.
If I use every tool and solution I know and a stain still remains, I always prepare a solution before telling the client to minimize their stress. For example, I could say that there is a hint of oil on a satin quilt, but if you turn it over, you won’t see it. I can also ask my supervisor if we can exchange the item. Maintaining client relationships is important to me, so making sure every client is satisfied with the solution I provide is my top priority.”
6. Tell me about a stage when you are distressed with a coworker. How did you resolve the situation?
Many employers want to hire people who communicate effectively and work well in a team environment. As a cleaner, you may work alongside other cleaners to complete a project and may have different ideas about the best methods to use. It might be helpful in your response to emphasize your patience and willingness to work together to find a solution.
Example: “In my last position, I often worked with another cleaner. I am methodical and organized and like to plan ahead. My colleague was spontaneous and liked to delay decisions to take into account current circumstances. I wanted to implement a standardized calendar of who cleans which rooms at what time each week.” She disagreed with my idea, noting that each room has different meetings each week, so we might not choose the most efficient schedule if we always clean in the same order.
I conceded that she had a good point and we compromised. Every Monday, we created a new weekly calendar based on the company calendar, which helped us prioritize and delegate tasks. I think this solution was successful because it combined both of our strengths and created a more effective plan than either of us could have created alone.”
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