Interviews are all about questions and answers. The types of questions that are asked are designed to give you an indication of what the company considers important. Your answers tell the company whether you suit the way they operate. Interviews for facilities management professionals are no different.

Preparation is the key to giving impressive responses in an interview. You should always research the company and compile a number of questions that might be asked of you to practice your answers. To make things a bit easier, we’ve compiled a list of four interview questions that you should be able to answer.

Career advice

How did you inspect premises at your previous job?
This question is designed to evaluate your approach to the job. As a facilities manager, many of your tasks will revolve around a practical and logical approach. The inspection of your previous premises not only proves your ability to operate in this way, but also goes some way to prove your knowledge of building maintenance and the working environment.

The obvious trap to avoid with this question is to generalise. Answers such as, “I made sure everything was working” or “I started in the car park and finished in the cafeteria”, don’t prove anything positive about the way you conduct yourself. Try to give details about the system you used to inspect the premises and what you were looking for when inspecting, this shows your personal experience and knowledge.

Career advice
If I asked you of ways to save energy, what would you think of?
Facilities managers are at heart problem solvers, and this is a great test of this. The ‘ways to save energy’ part of the question can be replaced with ‘ways to reduce waste’, for example, but essentially this tests your ability to react efficiently to a situational problem.

The best way to approach this question is to cover every aspect that could solve the problem. Rather than answering with something you believe to be clever and specific, such as, “we could cut turn off vending machine lights, because that is a needless expense for a daytime office”, consider every possibility. Once you’ve done this, you could suggest the one way you would save energy for the prospective premises. Combining breadth and focus together in one answer will best demonstrate your reasoning skills.

In your opinion, what is the most important quality of a Facilities Manager?

This is one of the pillars of a Facilities Management interview, and therefore, a question that people prepare for the most. However, it seems that people often get this wrong. The trap that a lot of people fall into, is to aim for the ‘right’ answer, which can come across as false. Not everyone is the most organised or the most authoritative, but remember that people buy into people, so just be yourself.

The best way to approach this question is to be honest and highlight your key strengths. For example: “Understanding people’s needs is key, especially when they feel they are not being looked after. Looking after people is what this job is about. If you had a deliveries team that are complaining about having to eat on the work floor, you need to reassure them that their concerns are of great importance and that you’ll be proposing the need for a rec room at the next available opportunity to sit down with management.” Whilst this kind of answer won’t get you the job everywhere, you know that if you do, you’re a good fit for the role.

Career advice
How would you deal with a dispute between yourself and a tenant of the premises?
As a facilities manager, you’re going to have to deal with workers who are unhappy with the facilities of a premise on a regular basis. Proving your ability to deal with difficult situations is part and parcel of the role.

Unlike other questions, this isn’t the time to bring up previous experiences: bringing up disputes from previous workplaces brings a negative atmosphere to the interview and suggests lack of professionalism. Instead focus on the key areas: listening, implementing a plan, informing the disgruntled employee of when this will be done. You can also improve this by adding personal details that you feel aid the situation, e.g. “I put a three-day-rule in place, after which I come back and inform them of the response to the issue that’s been raised – always with calmness and professionalism.”

Preparing answers for an interview is one of the best ways to make sure that you put the best version of your professional self up for the role. Proving your ability to assess the right way to answer, goes some way to prove your commitment to being successful if you were chosen for the position. It’s important to remember that being memorable is one the best ways to ensure a successful interview, and this relies on doing your research and being specific when answering questions.

We hope the list above has helped in some ways to think about how you go about this process: the rest is really up to you. Good luck!

If you are looking for a whole new opportunity, Cobalt is always interested to hear from skilled, driven professionals – send us your CV, we’d love to hear from you.

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