Everything we do, we do for people. Building are here to serve us, and in order to meet their purpose they need to be kept clean, safe, operational, and in good condition. As a facilities manager you’ll be responsible for such things . Said more precisely, you’ll respond for managing people who take care of these things, to ensure that the buildings meet the needs of the people who work in them. To be able do this job well, you need basically two things (a degree isn’t one of them):
- Excellent communication and management skills.
- Understanding of a “life” of a building, and what needs to be done on a daily, weekly, yearly, and irregular basis to maintain it in an excellent condition.
With their questions, the hiring managers will try to find out whether you meet the two criteria. Now we will look at some of these questions, and I will show you how to answer them. Let’s go!
Why did you apply for a job of a Facilities Manager?
You should actually answer two questions in your response:
- What you expect to get from this job (in terms of experience, daily life enjoyment, and career growth).
- What you want to give back for the compensation (experience with similar work, excellent management and communication skills, your motivation to turn the building to something better, etc).
The key is to show them that you have also their goals on your mind, that you did not apply only because this job pays well, and you will enjoy doing it. For example, you can say that you know the problems their buildings experience right now, and that you can envision yourself addressing these problems, and making the place better for everyone.
First of all, I feel that I know how to manage the facilities in the building that belong to your portfolio, and how to address the principal challenges you face here. Secondly, I like the job description and what you offer to the successful candidate. Last but not least, I believe to have excellent management skills and attention to detail, which should help me in this job greatly. Said in other words, I feel the job is a good match to my personality and skills.
Tell us something about your previous working experience
You should talk about relevant roles, or, if you have done nothing relevant, try to find connection with something that seems irrelevant. In fact, every job in which communication was involved (which is true for 95% of all jobs man can have), is a sort of preparation for the job of a Facilities Manager. You talked to people, you tried to understand them, or lead them, and you will do the same in your new job–just the setting will be different, and the things you will discuss with them.
If this is your first job application, ensure the hiring managers that you read job description carefully, understand the scope of your duties, and feel ready to do the job well, though having no previous experience.
The only job I had before was the job in a call center. Yet I still feel it helped me to prepare for the role of a facilities manager. Let me explain: In a call center, you always sell something to people on the phone–dreams, ideas, illusions. Communication skills are crucial, if you want to have any success. And I believe I improved my communication and sales skills a lot in this job. What’s more, I became mentally resilient, since you hear a lot of bad words from people on the call. Yet I managed to get over it and continue with my job, and no doubt I will benefit from it in a role of a Facilities Manager, while dealing with employees and contractors, while trying to convince them to do this or that thing.
How do you imagine your typical day in work as a facilities manager?
While a typical day varies from one location to another, you should show them that you have some idea, and most importantly that you want to proactively look for things to improve.
You can say that you plan to make a daily inspection of each building under your supervision, to ensure everything is in place, talking to staff and supervising their work, addressing any problems that may arise (with water, heating, etc). You can also say that you plan to work on feasible plans of continuous renovation of each building in your “portfolio”, and work on realization of these plans.
Ensure them that you want to be busy in work, that you will actively seek for things to do, in order to improve the facilities…
I definitely do not plan to sit in my comfy office, waiting for a phone call or a heavy knock on my door. On the contrary, I imagine visiting each building daily, making sure everything is in place, talking to the responsible staff, and looking for areas for improvements. I also imagine taking care of some reporting and administrative work required by law, which is also an important part of the job. Of course when things happen, such as a broken heating system or water pump or whatever, I will try to solve the problem as soon as possible, since I realize the impact it has on people living and working in the affected building.
* Do not forget to read also: Simple guide on how to overcome interview nerves.
How would you ensure that facilities meet government regulations and environmental, health and security standards?
Ensure the interviewers that you either have an excellent knowledge of these standards and regulations (you can even list two or three of them, with which buildings in your area struggle the most), or know where to look to learn about them.
You can even say that you plan to devote a small part of your time in work to checking the news and updates to these laws and regulations, to ensure you won’t miss any important changes. Regular inspections (to ensure the facilities meet the regulations) are an obvious thing to do.
First of all, upon getting this job I want to get familiar with all important regulations and laws we have to abide. Once I understand them, I will check the adherence during each inspection, or at least on a regular basis, for example monthly. I also want to devote a small time block each week to study new laws and regulations related to my job, just to make sure we stay compliant and do not miss on some important update.
Imagine that you should find a new cleaning company for one of the facilities. How would you proceed?
Just don’t say that you’d call your friend who runs such a company :). Obviously you may do this in your new job (and won’t be neither the first nor the last manager who took advantage of their position to help their friend from business), but it’s not something to refer to in an interview.
The key is to show them that you will approach your task responsibly. You will allocate a budget, and spend some time researching about local cleaning companies, reading reviews and picking three or four best of them. Then you will meet with their representatives, explain them the work and let them make an offer.
Then you will obviously pick the best one–not only in terms of price, but quality. You may even say that you will check their references directly with other managers who cooperate with each cleaning company.
I will start with understanding the monthly budget for the cleaning company. Then I will do a throughout research in the area, checking the companies, their past history, references, and so on. Choosing two or three best players in the field, I will send them the description of the work and ask them to make an offer–if they are interested of course. Reading the proposals I will meet with the reps of two shortlisted companies in person, discussing it further, getting a feel of the person in charge and their company. Eventually I will pick the best one in terms of quality, as long as their offer falls within the budget allocated for the monthly cleaning.
Describe a time when you demonstrated your leadership
You will lead people in your new job, and almost certainly you’ll get at least one or two interview questions about your leadership skills. You can refer to a situation when you helped an employee to regain their motivation, or perhaps when you led a team of diverse personalities in work, while they struggled to cooperate together.
If this is your first job application, you can talk about leading a group of friends in a football team (or any other team), or, if you can’t think of anything better, narrate a situation when you helped someone you love (your relative, good friend) to get over a difficult period they experienced in life.
There are many forms of leadership, and for sure you had an opportunity to demonstrate your leadership more than once. It’s just about remembering the situation and narrating it in the interview…
I recall one example from the job I had in a restaurant while still studying. We were all students working there, and the owner didn’t treat us well. Since back then it wasn’t easy to get a job in the area, especially with no experience, people were quiet and tolerated the mistreatment. But once things escalated and a bad incident happened, the owner hitting one of the employees. That’s when I realized enough was enough, and decided to step up for my colleagues. I talked to the manager in front of everybody, in a calm voice asking them to respect our rights and treat us fairly, and to immediately apologize to the waitress they just hit. I also asked for a few changes they should apply in the workplace immediately. They were very surprised that someone decided to confront them, and didn’t know what to say. Eventually the next day I found myself without the job… Still, I am proud that I wasn’t afraid and took the leadership role in the situation, speaking for all my colleagues.
Other questions you may get in your Facilities Manager interview
- Why do you want to work for us, and not another construction company, property firm, etc?
- What motivates you the most in work?
- Describe a time when you reached a goal, and tell us how you achieved it.
- What do you consider the biggest security risks with the buildings in our portfolio?
- What do you consider the toughest aspect of this job?
- Describe a situation when you were unable to solve the problem on your own.
- How do you feel about taking up some manual labor when necessary?
- Tell us about an obstacle you overcame.
- What would you do to ensure that we save energy, and reduce operational costs in our facility?
- Describe a situation when you were under pressure in work.
- How would you define quality?
- Describe a time when you had to meet a tight deadline in your work.
* Special Tip: If you are not sure how to answer the questions from my list, or experience interview anxiety, have a look at our Interview Success Package. Up to 10 premium answers to basically all tricky questions you may face in your Facilities Manager job interview will help you streamline your interview preparation, outclass your competitors, and eventually get the job. Thank you for checking it out!
Facility Manager is a popular job title. Typically you will compete with three to five people for the job, and if someone more experienced interviews for it (someone who had the same job in the past), it will be difficult to outclass them.
However, you should try your best, that means researching about your future employer and the facilities they run, trying to show motivation and enthusiasm in an interview, and most importantly preparing for all questions they may possibly ask you. I hope you will manage to do it, and wish you good luck!
* You can also download the list of questions in a one page long PDF, and practice your interview answers anytime later, even when offline:
May also interest you:
- Salary negotiation tips – Learn how to negotiate the best possible salary offer at the end of your interview.
- How to dress for an interview – Each detail matters. Choose the right clothes and impress your interviewers.
- Body language in an interview – Your body language is as important as your interview answers. Learn how to send the right signals to the hiring managers.