Interviewing the Right Way to Find the Right People

    We hope you’re ready for the next segment of Swept’s Hiring Guide. If you missed the last entry, where we discuss the nuances of writing job descriptions to attract the right kind of employee, you’re in luck! You can find it here. If you haven’t already, we’ll give you a moment to catch up….

    Alright then, on to;

    Now that you’ve written proper job descriptions for your cleaning company and posted them online, you’ve likely received quite the collection of resumes or applications. Before we dive into the interviewing process, we should touch on the step in between — choosing who to interview based on their resume. This is called screening job applicants. Not everyone who sends a resume your way will be the right fit for a janitorial company cleaner position. So, how do you choose who has potential? 

    Before the Interviews: Screening Applicants 

    The first thing to keep in mind is that your ideal applicant could be anywhere in the pile. It’s important to thoroughly read through all the job applications. Start by organizing the resumes into two piles as you review them.

    Pile #1 – Has Potential 

    • The applicant meets all requirements listed on-the-job description.

    • The applicant has experience in this field.

    • The applicant has provided references.

    Pile #2 – Not the Right Fit 

    • The applicant does not meet all the requirements listed on-the-job description.

    • The applicant did not fill in all the mandatory information on the application.

    • The applicant is simply not qualified.

    The “Has Potential” pile will now become your interview list. To save time, first schedule short phone interviews with the applicants on this list. The interviews should be roughly 10-15 minutes long. After the phone interviews, you may move a few more resumes into the “Not the Right Fit” pile. The remaining applicants will be invited to come in for in-person interviews. Congratulations, the screening process is now complete! 

    STAT: Evidence shows that mobile devices are often the main or only connection to the internet for low-income workers. Make sure your application process is easy to complete on a mobile device.

    How To Conduct a Great Phone Interview

    What are the right questions to ask during a phone interview? The goal of the interview is to determine if the applicant’s skills, personality, and expectations of the job match the position you’re looking to fill. A 10-15 minute long phone interview can definitely achieve this goal if you know what to ask. Phone interviews also save you time by eliminating applicants who are not the right fit for coming in for in-person interviews. 

    We understand that most applicants won’t describe janitorial cleaning as their passion or dream career, so the goal of the phone interview is simple: look for signals that the position you’re looking to fill matches the needs of this person beyond just making money to pay the bills. 

    7 Phone Interview Questions

    1. What attracted you to this position and our company?

    Starting with a broad, open-ended question is a great way to immediately get insight into the applicant’s personal and professional goals. This will help you to determine if they’re in it for the long-haul — are they looking to commit to a job long-term with consistent hours and perhaps even growth opportunities within the company — or are they simply between jobs in their (other) desired profession. Try to get a feel for what stage of life they’re in and how that will affect potential longevity in this position.

    2. What type of work do you like doing? What type of work do you dislike doing? 

    Let’s be honest, you’re looking for someone who enjoys doing manual and sometimes repetitive work. Having the applicants talk about their professional likes and dislikes, will give great insight into what kinds of tasks they’ll do well at. Throw in a personal question, too, about their hobbies and interests to get a feel for activities they are naturally drawn to in their free time.

    3. Tell us one personal accomplishment you are proud of. How did you pull it off? Were there any obstacles you had to overcome? 

    Asking for a story about a personal accomplishment will help to show the applicant’s ability to follow through, think critically, problem-solve, and get the job done. Try and carefully gauge their level of enthusiasm for this answer, as it will give you a sense of whether they take pride in their work.

    4. What related work experience or skills do you have?

    This one’s a biggie. Finding out how much cleaning industry experience an applicant has immediately tells you if they can handle this kind of work, as well as how much training they’ll need. For applicants who have 5-10 years of experience cleaning, ask more specific questions to figure out what technical skills they already have.

    If the applicant has never worked in the cleaning industry before, it’s still important to ask specific questions about their roles and responsibilities at other jobs in order to identify transferable skills. 

    5. Could you describe a situation at work when you ran into a problem and had to come up with a solution on your own?

    Typically you won’t be on-site with a cleaner when most issues come up, so you need to hire people who have common sense, are resourceful, and have basic problem-solving skills. Listen to their answer to this question and assess if their solution makes sense. Bonus points for creativity! 

    6. Are you most comfortable working independently or in a group? Why?

    Cleaners need to be able to work alone and as part of a team effectively. Asking this question helps to identify the applicant’s comfort level in either setting.

    7. What kind of behavior from others irritates you most, and how do you handle it? 

    This is a great question as it shows you the applicant’s level of maturity and how they deal with different personalities or other people’s difficult behavior. Even when cleaners are working independently, they have to be able to work well with other team members, including supervisors and managers.

    Why Use the Interview Worksheet

    Using a simple scoring system, as shown in the sample worksheets, is an easy way to keep things consistent while ranking applicants. The worksheet will guide you along through the seven questions, and remind you of additional topics and questions.

    TIP: Save time by only setting up face-to-face interviews with the right applicants. Those who’s answers you weren’t satisfied with should not move on to the next step!

    Face-to-Face Interviews 

    This is the big moment! The final stage of the hiring process. An opportunity to really decide if this person will be a cultural fit for your cleaning company.

    Did you know: Studies have shown that over 80%, (or 12.5 times more communication is done without words) of communication is non-verbal?* That’s why meeting applicants in person is an important part of the hiring process.

    Think about it, your customers experience your brand through your cleaners. The attitude, body language, and level of professionalism your team displays will directly affect how clients think of your cleaning company. Make sure you get the right people — by knowing what to look for at a face-to-face interview. What does the applicant’s presence say about their character, attitude, and level of professionalism? 

    Physical Cues to Look For:

    • Eye Contact

    • Posture 

    • Personal Grooming

    • Energy Level

    • Sense of Humour 

    • Overall Demeanour 

    Here’s a free worksheet to help you out, feel free to use it!

    Look forward to the next chapter in our guide to hiring coming soon!

    Swept is dedicated to highlighting stories that touch everyone in the janitorial industry. Having started as a commercial cleaning company ourselves, our hearts go well beyond the janitorial software we offer. Want even more info on hiring and retention before the second chapter of the hiring guide gets released? Amazing, we’ve got you covered with our Complete Guide to Cleaner Retention.

    Learn more about Swept’s commercial cleaning company software here. And to keep up on all the trends in the janitorial services industry, subscribe to our blog!

    Take a look at our Complete Cleaner Hiring Guide.




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