Before you make your next hiring decision, be sure to add these janitor interview questions to your list. They could save you some big headaches.

It’s nothing to be embarrassed about. We’ve all made poor hiring decisions. It happens. Sometimes it’s our fault for not contacting previous employers. Other times, in our desperation to fill a gap, we miss the obvious signs that we’re making a mistake. Sometimes, though, we don’t ask the right janitor interview questions to help us look beyond the glowing application and references to see those early warning signs.

There are, of course, no guarantees in hiring. That star candidate could get a better offer. You might have trouble finding that “perfect” fit. Those issues are just part of running a business. But it’s incredibly disappointing to hire someone and find out weeks or months later that we’ve made a decision that could potentially harm our organization.

Inventory starts to disappear. Customers begin to request different teams because they’re uncomfortable with someone, or worse, they drop you altogether. Your own employees refuse to work with this person. Jobs aren’t getting done correctly. Or there may be more subtle consequences. A poor attitude can create a toxic work environment where productivity slips.

No matter how careful we are, it’s nearly certain that we will make bad hiring decisions. But some janitor interview questions can help improve the odds of weeding out the wrong candidates.

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Janitor Interview Questions

9 Janitor interview questions (and signs) that will help you sweep away the wrong job applicants

Many commercial cleaning operations get a lot of responses to job listings. Whether these responses are phone calls, texts, or emails, you can tell a lot about a candidate even before getting to the janitor’s interview questions. These are some of the questions to ask yourself about the candidate.

1. Did they respond appropriately? If you specified in your job listing how a candidate should reply, did they follow those instructions? Did they call when you said only to email? Did you ask them to include a resume in the text of the email, but they attached it as a file? These aren’t sure signs that a candidate is a poor choice, but they do indicate that they may not always follow instructions.

2. How was their demeanor in the response? Were they gruff or rude? You can assume this is how they would talk to your customers. To be clear, this isn’t about speaking or writing in perfect English or Spanish or any other language. It’s about the attitude that’s conveyed with the message. There’s a big difference between, “You need to hire me,” and “I want to work with you.”

3. Is there a lot of short-term work on their job history? This isn’t necessarily a red flag, but it could be. It’s not uncommon for people to work temporary or short-term jobs. But if your candidate has a lot of these, it may be worth looking into. It takes time and money to hire and train someone. You don’t want to go through that effort if they’re going to leave the job in a month or two.

Assuming these are all good and you invite a candidate in to talk to you, there are still some things to look for before you get to the janitor interview questions.

4. Have they dressed appropriately? Since we’re talking about janitorial work, your candidates may not show up in a shirt and tie. That’s reasonable. Jeans and a nice shirt, even if it’s a t-shirt, could be fine. It’s not so much what someone is wearing; it’s more how they’re wearing it. Are they making an effort, or did they just throw on something and show up?

5. Are they on time for the interview? This one is relatively self-explanatory. If they’re late for an interview, there’s a good chance they’ll be late to work. It’s worth noting, however, that there could be excellent reasons for lateness that might, in fact, make them a great candidate. If your candidate shows up late with dirty hands because they helped a stranded motorist change a flat tire, that’s a pretty compelling reason to keep them in the running.

Now for some of the actual janitor interview questions that can help you avoid making a hiring mistake…

6. What did you learn from your previous employer? This question can give you a lot of insight. Their answer shows whether or not they are suited to follow instructions, and it can also give you some hints into their general attitude. Watch out for: having nothing positive to say about any previous employers or not learning anything from past jobs.

7. Can we contact your previous employers? We all have an employer in our past that we don’t want anyone to contact. That’s perfectly fine. But if they don’t want you to contact any of their previous employers, that’s something to be wary of.

8. What do you think would be the most challenging part of this job? This is one of the more common janitor interview questions, but the answer can give you useful information. Is the hardest part of cleaning restrooms? Yikes! That’s a primary job duty. Is there nothing that would be a challenge? Also, yikes; there are challenges in every job. A candidate who already “knows everything” may not be willing to learn how your cleaning business does things. There’s no specific right answer to these questions, but you want someone who isn’t going to shy away from the basic janitorial tasks.

9. What questions do you have? Any job candidate should have a least one or two questions for you. It shows they are paying attention during the interview and that they want to engage you.

Of course, always bear in mind that any red flag has to be taken into context. Great candidates don’t always have great interviews. And there is one thing that a lot of people consider a red flag that really should not be.

There’s an assumption that asking about salary is a red flag. The fact is, people need to know if they’re going to receive a fair wage. Should it be the first thing they bring up? Maybe not, but don’t dismiss someone out of hand for asking.

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