Custodians and janitors are crucial to any workplace. Working behind the scenes, custodians keep the workplace clean and ensure that others are not exposed to things that could make them sick. When you're interviewing prospective candidates for the job, you want to make sure they have the skills necessary to do the job, as well as posess the initiative necessary to take care of issues even when other people are not around.
The ideal candidate will likely have some experience in the field, and have a good grasp of what needs to be done in the position. Ask the candidate to describe what they think they'll be doing at your workplace. A good candidate will have already sized up the building and gotten an idea of what duties they'll need to do, which may include sweeping, cleaning, grounds maintenance, heating and air conditioning maintenance or trash removal. Also ask the candidate whether she has any physical issues that would prevent her from doing any part of the job; for example, will she be unable to shovel sidewalks because of a bad back.
Custodians are often tasked with the unfortunate job of cleaning up big messes such as vomit or dirty bathrooms -- things you want handled as soon as possible to avoid spreading disease. Ask the candidate how she would handle the situation, and what steps she would take to deal with it. This can show her commitment to the ugly yet real tasks of the job. Since some of those issues can be public health issues if not dealt with properly, you could also ask the candidate how she would ensure that the area is safe for public use following the incident.
Janitors and custodians often have access to all the rooms of the office -- even the ones that contain sensitive information. As such, you want to know you can trust them. One way to test this is to ask the candidate what she would do if she witnessed a co-worker breaching an employee's privacy, or how she reacts when presented with sensitive information, even inadvertantly.
Custodians often work when other people are not in the building, and have to keep themselves on task without direction from others. As such, it's important for your candidates to be independent and resourceful. Ask the candidate what she would do if a situation arose that she wasn't able to handle on her own. Also ask her how she handles working independently, or ask her to share a story about how she's handled working on her own in the past.
Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.