34 Sanitation Worker Interview Questions (With Answers)

Updated 31 May 2023

Sanitation workers typically work outdoors in various settings, interact with the public, follow sanitation protocols and meet deadlines, so a hiring manager is likely to ask you questions about your relevant skills and previous experience. During your sanitation worker interview, you might refer to examples of when you used specific skills or explain how you might approach hypothetical scenarios to convince employers of your suitability for the role. Reviewing possible questions can help you consider which strengths and achievements you want to use in your answers.

In this article, we list 34 sanitation worker interview questions and provide four example answers to help you prepare for your interview.

Related: How to Prepare for a Job Interview

Find sanitation worker jobs

General sanitation worker interview questions

General sanitation worker interview questions help a hiring manager learn about you to determine your suitability for the job. For example, these questions help determine your communication skills, your knowledge of the position and whether you're a good fit for the role. Review the following example interview questions to help you with your interview preparation:

  1. How many years of experience do you have in sanitation?

  2. Are you comfortable working outdoors in different weather conditions?

  3. What attracts you to this organisation?

  4. What are the most essential skills for working in sanitation?

  5. Describe your greatest strength and weakness.

  6. What's your communication style?

  7. What's the most important career lesson you've learned?

  8. Have you undertaken any specific training or certifications in sanitation?

  9. What's the most challenging aspect of working in sanitation?

  10. What makes you qualified for this role?

Related: 9 Service Industry Jobs (With Duties and Average Salaries)

Questions about experience and background

Because sanitation positions usually require working outdoors with potentially hazardous waste, a hiring manager may ask you about specific responsibilities, procedures or experience you have operating machinery. Here are some questions you may receive during an interview so a hiring manager can determine your experience:

  1. Describe your experience operating heavy machinery or other sanitation equipment.

  2. What's your favourite aspect of working in sanitation?

  3. Describe your most significant accomplishment.

  4. How do you ensure you dispose of all waste promptly?

  5. How do you handle stress on the job?

  6. Tell me more about your experience working in sanitation.

  7. How well do you follow instructions?

  8. Do you have experience operating a waste collection truck?

  9. What type of sanitation equipment have you used?

  10. Tell me about the safety precautions you'd take when handling hazardous materials.

Related: How to Become a Garbage Collector (With Average Salary)

In-depth questions for a sanitation role

A hiring manager asks in-depth questions to determine how you'd perform daily within the organisation. For example, they may assess how you work with others, solve problems or manage conflict. In addition, the hiring team may ask situational questions to evaluate how you've handled situations in the past. Here's a list of in-depth questions a hiring manager may ask:

  1. Describe how you work with others during a shift.

  2. Tell me about a time when you had to make a quick decision at work.

  3. Have you ever had a conflict with a colleague or a manager? How did you resolve it?

  4. How would you handle someone dumping waste illegally?

  5. How do you stay organised and on schedule?

  6. Give an example of how you interact with the public.

  7. There's a substantial amount of waste on your standard route. How would you adjust your route to ensure the collection of all waste?

  8. Describe the correct sanitation disposal methods.

  9. Have you ever handled pests or rodents at work? Explain what you did and the outcome.

  10. Give an example of when you had to solve an unexpected issue during a shift.

Related: 8 Time Management Interview Questions with Example Answers

Interview questions with example answers

Review these example interview questions and answers to prepare for your interview for a job in sanitation:

1. Can you describe a time when you handled a conflict at work? How did you handle the situation and what was the outcome?

A hiring manager asks this question to determine how you manage conflict. Your answer helps them identify how you respond to challenging situations and reveals your character and professionalism. When answering, demonstrate your ability to remain calm under pressure and discuss your steps to defuse the situation.

Example: 'During one shift, I encountered an individual who was very unhappy with the sanitation services our local council was providing. They were very aggressive, and I wanted to avoid an argument as I believe arguing would be unprofessional and inappropriate. I remained calm and listened to their concerns. They had misinterpreted a recent communication from the council about our services. I calmly explained our role and what we could do to help. They understood and apologised for their behaviour.'

Related: How to Grow Your Conflict Resolution Skills

2. What would you do if you noticed an overflowing skip bin on your route?

A hiring manager may ask this question to learn about your organisational skills and how you prioritise tasks. When answering, consider showing that you're willing to take action to complete a job and describe how you'd manage the impact on achieving your tasks on time. Your answer is an excellent opportunity to highlight your time management and creative problem-solving skills to overcome an issue.

Example: 'I've encountered this situation sometimes, so I can confidently handle similar issues that arise during a shift. If I see a skip bin that's full or overflowing, I'd first determine if it needs emptying immediately or if any items are blocking the opening. If it's a full load and I have limited space on my truck, I'd request assistance from the depot.

If items are blocking the opening, making it difficult to empty, I'd remove them carefully to ensure I didn't create any litter in the nearby area. Once I clear the obstruction, I'd empty the skip, following all relevant safety protocols. I'd also ensure the area around the skip is debris-free before I continue my route.'

Related: How to Become a Creative Problem Solver: A Definitive Guide

3. We're passionate about improving recycling in our community. Do you have any ideas about what we can do to encourage more recycling?

Working in sanitation is a community role, so a hiring manager may ask you this question to understand your commitment to the community and to working in sanitation. Your answer also shows your creativity and problem-solving abilities. An effective answer can make a positive impression on the hiring manager, so discuss ideas that align with the organisation's values and mission to demonstrate your interest in the role.

Example: 'I'm passionate about making a positive impact on the environment, and through my work in sanitation, I now understand how waste management works. I have many practical ideas that I think may resonate with the community. Education and raising public awareness are important, and there are many opportunities to partner with local community groups and schools to start an education campaign.

I think the key is to make recycling as convenient as possible for community members by reviewing collection points and frequency to meet the community's needs. Another option is incentive recycling, which can be a great way to generate initial interest in recycling. For example, offer a one-off cash prize for community groups or neighbourhoods that recycle the most rubbish in a certain period. These types of initiatives also generate media interest to help promote recycling even more.'

Related: Mission, Vision and Values Statements: Definition and Tips

4. What do you think is the most critical aspect of sanitation work?

This question is an opportunity to show you're passionate about the sanitation industry and have the knowledge to identify how it impacts your local community. When you answer, highlight the skills or qualities you think are important to work in sanitation and demonstrate how you have used those skills in previous roles.

Example: 'Because working in sanitation means you're responsible for ensuring public areas are safe and hygienic, I think following safety protocols and using approved protective equipment is imperative. Appropriate disposal of waste is a major factor to help reduce environmental pollution. It also helps reduce health hazards and the spread of disease.

Understanding how to dispose of waste using the correct safety procedures helps protect the environment and prevent water and soil pollution, which is important for protecting our communities. I always assess potential health risks or environmental hazards during a shift. Regularly wiping surfaces and removing debris is an important aspect of the job to reduce risks and to ensure clean surfaces and safe surroundings.'

Explore more articles

  • What Do Tilers Do? (With Primary Duties and Skills)
  • Jobs for Teenagers (With Salaries)
  • What Does a Facilities Coordinator Do? (With Qualifications)
  • What Does a Switchboard Operator Do? (With Salary)
  • What Is an IT Consultant? (With Skills and Qualifications)
  • What is a Business Advisor? (And How To Become One)
  • Barber Responsibilities (With Skills and Work Environment)
  • How to Become a Train Driver (With Development Skills)
  • 9 Front-of-House Positions in a Restaurant (With Duties)
  • How to Become an Endorsed Enrolled Nurse (Including Skills)
  • What Does a Florist Do? (With Salary and Career Path)
  • What Is Corporate Banking? Definition and Comparisons