A custodian is responsible for managing an environment or building, ensuring that it is appropriately cared for and up to standard - common settings include hotels, hospitals and offices.
The role requires good attention to detail and strong organizational skills, and will likely also involve directly supervising and coordinating the work of a team.
When hiring a custodian, you need to be sure that they possess the skills and abilities to be successful in the role. This article will highlight the tasks a custodian performs, the soft and technical skills a good custodian requires, and the competencies they should be able to demonstrate.
You will also learn the best ways to test for these essential skills, to ensure the best candidate is hired for the position.
What should a custodian be able to do?
The daily tasks of a custodian are centered around ensuring the cleanliness of a building they are responsible for managing. This is an important role, as cleanliness and hygiene are not only essential for a comfortable working environment but help to stop the spread of infection.
Custodians need to be good organizers and strong leaders, as they often manage substantial teams of cleaning personnel. They are responsible for establishing and implementing operational standards and procedures, which means they are required to inspect work performed to ensure it is up to standard.
In large buildings, such as hospitals, a custodian will need to coordinate activities with other departments to ensure services are provided efficiently.
A custodian's staff management tasks include planning employee work schedules, issuing supplies and equipment, performance evaluation and resolving any personnel problems. They are often responsible for supervising any in-house services - such as laundries, dry cleaning or valet services - and coordinating maintenance and repair.
They may also be responsible for the hiring of new members to their team, so will need to screen and select appropriate applicants.
The administration tasks of a custodian include maintaining records of employee work hours and other information as necessary, and managing financial budgets and payrolls. Organizational tasks include stock inventory, scheduling and ordering new equipment, supplies or furnishings, checking equipment, and reviewing the condition of facilities to determine the work required.
Custodians may also need to prepare written reports on their team's activity and on information such as facility usage, maintenance and repairs, general work performed, and expenses. They may also be asked to review overall performance and recommend changes that could improve service and increase operational efficiency.
As well as conducting their management-level tasks, a custodian needs to be practical and willing to assist with cleaning duties and maintenance tasks where necessary. A custodian also has to deal with any customer complaints about service or equipment and take the necessary steps to correct any oversight or issue.
Skills to look for in a custodian
A custodian will need to possess certain skills to perform daily tasks to a high standard. It is important to ensure any prospective employee has what it takes to fulfill their responsibilities and thrive in the workplace. The key skills for custodians are:
Problem-solving: custodians need to be able to deal with reported issues quickly and effectively. The ability to think logically and make decisions around the most suitable course of action - weighing time, cost and service quality - is an important asset.
Communication: as it is often a management role, it is essential that a custodian has good communication skills. Active listening, a personable manner and a helpful mindset are vital for building a working relationship with their team and providing good service to improve the experience of individuals using the building. Custodians need to be good verbal communicators, so they can convey instructions to other employees clearly and effectively.
Organization and attention to detail: to carry out the administrative side of the role effectively, custodians need strong organizational skills. Good attention to detail is essential for ensuring standards are met.
Reading and writing comprehension: custodians are responsible for the maintenance of employee records and writing reports for upper management, so they need to be able to communicate effectively in written form.
Software skills: a custodian will likely need to use software, such as Microsoft Office (including Outlook, Excel and Word), and may be required to use specific inventory management, facilities management or database software.
Useful abilities for a custodian
Certain abilities will increase a custodian's competency in their role. The abilities to look for when hiring a custodian include:
Problem sensitivity: as they work in the service industry, a custodian must have an awareness of client/customer needs and potential issues. An individual with high problem sensitivity and awareness has the ability to tell when something is wrong or likely to go wrong. Custodians are not only responsible for ensuring problems are solved but for anticipating and recognizing problems in the first place - so services can be proactive rather than simply reactive.
Oral comprehension: a custodian needs to be able to listen to the shifting requirements of certain departments or service areas to ensure that their hygiene and cleanliness needs are met. They also need to be able to actively listen to their team of personnel and resolve any issues that may arise. Understanding tone and body language - which are substantial components in how we communicate - will help a custodian to be a good team manager.
Teamwork: custodians often work as part of a larger team (with counterparts in other departments within hospitals, for example), so collaborative working skills are a must. They must also be able to create cohesion within their own employee teams. Custodians that can work well alongside colleagues will be a welcome addition, fitting into current ways of operating and working.
Which soft skills tests could I use to hire a custodian?
Pre-employment psychometric testing is an excellent way to both efficiently and effectively assess your candidate pool. When hiring a custodian, the following soft skills tests could be used to assess capability:
Decision-making: being responsible for the upkeep and cleanliness of a large building is a substantial task that involves decision-making to balance budgets and service quality. A decision-making skills test assesses a candidate's ability to approach a decision logically and to think critically and holistically when coming to conclusions about maintenance, repairs and the prioritization of everyday tasks.
Communication: custodians need strong oral communication skills to manage effectively and the ability to convey information through written update reports. This test explores written and spoken communication skills, including the ability to listen actively and respond to non-verbal cues. It is useful for determining whether a candidate has the skills needed to listen attentively and take on board the opinions of others, display understanding and empathy, and convey information clearly and succinctly when required.
Accountability: an accountability test is designed to assess how likely a candidate is to display discipline, ownership and integrity at work. During the test, candidates will be presented with a series of hypothetical scenarios and asked to select the answer option which, in their opinion, is either most or least likely to resolve the issue. As custodians are responsible for buildings and their contents, you'll want to know that the person you come to hire is honest and accountable.
Which technical or aptitude tests could I use to hire a custodian?
When recruiting for a custodian position, you'll want to know that your chosen candidate has the aptitude and technical skills needed to excel in performing everyday tasks. Consider using the following tests to assess ability:
Logical reasoning: a logical reasoning test assesses the ability to think critically and approach problems logically. It uses spatial data - with candidates required to select the next figure in a sequence made up of shapes and symbols. Custodians need to make judgments about how and when certain tasks should be carried out, so this test provides valuable insight.
Error checking: a custodian needs good attention to detail to ensure the building they are responsible for is in working order. An error checking test requires a candidate to spot the discrepancies between sets of given information, assessing their attention to detail whilst working under time pressure.
Numerical reasoning: custodians are responsible for taking stock inventory and managing budgets, so a numerical reasoning test is useful for evaluating their comfort level with mathematics. The test assesses the ability to interpret data and handle numbers and involves mathematical concepts such as ratios, fractions and percentages, and data presented in graphs, tables and charts.
Microsoft Word: custodians need to be able to prepare written reports on the status and progress of work. This skills test assesses a candidate on their current level of proficiency using Word, to see if their competency meets the required level.
Microsoft Excel: this test assesses a candidate's ability to use Excel and perform all the functions needed for tasks such as inventory or budgeting.
Our recommended test battery for a custodian
To recruit a custodian, we'd recommend using the following pre-employment tests within your hiring process. These assessments will ensure that the candidates best suited for the role advance to your assessment center and interview stages.
At a minimum, we recommend that you set your candidates the following tests:
Decision making: custodians must be able to make decisions about how to best protect people and property from hazards such as fire, flooding, or physical damage. This decision making test enables you to measure a candidate's ability to make the appropriate decisions to maintain safe and secure environments.
Numerical reasoning: custodians work with financial budgets and conduct stock inventory, therefore a good level of mathematical ability is helpful. A numerical reasoning test can determine which candidates have the numerical skills required to conduct these tasks with ease.
Logical reasoning: a logical reasoning test will assess a candidate's ability to think laterally and practically to solve problems. Custodians need to be active problem-solvers and decision-makers to keep facilities up to standard, so this test is an effective way of gauging the degree of logic applied in their approach.
Error checking: a high attention to detail regarding the environment they are responsible for is essential for a custodian. They are responsible for establishing and implementing operational standards and procedures, and are required to inspect the work performed to ensure it is up to standard. Use an error-checking test to assess this capability within your talent pool.
To find out more about recruiting for this type of role, view our guide to custodian testing.