Custodian is often wrongly considered just a polite name for a job of a Janitor. Custodians, however, differ from Janitors in two principal ways:

  • They typically respond for more duties than janitors do (basic building maintenance and repairs, opening and closing the gates of the building, cleaning of windows and other spots which janitors do not normally clean, etc).
  • While janitors can work at different locations during the day, custodians are typically based in a particular place all the time, most typically in a school setting.

And though these differences are not reflected in the salaries (custodians earn in average just as much as janitors do, about $27,000 gross annually in the US), they are reflected in the interview questions.

Basically the interviewers expect a bit more from the custodian, and the interview is slightly more challenging. However, the job is also better, as it involves daily contact with both students and teachers, and is generally more enjoyable.

Let’s have a look at some questions right now.

man is cleaning windows in a nice setting

Why do you want to work as a custodian?

Try to show some enthusiasm for the position. The interviewers shouldn’t feel that you apply just becasue you struggle to get any better job. They know that no children dream of becoming custodians once they grow up, but they still want to hire someone who can see positives in the job–and there are many of them!

Say that you would like to work in a school environment, but haven’t been blessed to become a teacher. You can also say that you enjoy jobs that do not require too much thinking, and love to have a clear mind once leaving home, not taking your working duties with you.

Mention that you enjoy cleaning (the principal duty of custodian), and believe to be good at it.


Why do you want to work here?

You can go with an honest answer–perhaps the school is located nearby your flat, or the working hours suit you. Another good idea is referring to personal connection to the school. Maybe your children are studying there, or they were attending the school in the past.

Alternatively you can do some research about the school, and point out good things: the reputation of the institution, good name it has among students, nice campus, excellent benefits for employees, and so on. You can also check 7 sample answers to this question, to get some inspiration for your own, unique answer: Why do you want to work here?


How do you imagine a typical day in work?

In a good answer you will clearly demonstrate that you understand the difference between janitor and custodian, and are ready for the responsibilities of the second one.

Read the job description carefully. They may explain your duties clearly, and if they do not, try to be creative. You can say that the core of your work will be cleaning and vacuuming the building, but are ready to do basic maintenance work, de-icing the walkways, opening or closing some doors, participating on school events, and basically do anything required from you as a custodian.


What’s your experience with this type of work?

If you had the same job before (or a job of a janitor or anything similar), say clearly where you worked and for how long. You can also say why you left this job, but try not to talk negatively about your former employer.

If it’s your first job application, you can still talk about similar work you do back at home. Ensure the interviewers that you understand what will be expected from you as a custodian, and feel ready to handle the job.

woman sweeps the floor and she si smiling

How long do you want to have this position? Where do you see yourself in five years time?

Schools and other public places do not like to change custodians too often. Maybe this is just a temporary solution for you, and you will always look for another job, but you should not say so in an interview.

Tell them that you prefer not think much about the future, that you try to focus on your job, do it as well as possible each day, and will see what the future will bring.

You could say that you want to be a custodian in five years. However, most interviewers won’t believe such an answer.


Other questions you may face in your custodian interview

You can also download the questions in a one page long PDF, in order to practice your interview answers anytime later:


Interview for a job of  a custodian belongs to easier interviews. Try to relax, try to stay positive. Read the job description carefully and research a bit about your future place of work.

Show at least some motivation and enthusiasm, and give them clear answers to their questions. One you manage to do it, they will hire you. I wish you good luck!

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Matthew Chulaw
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