21 Interview Questions Every Facilities Manager Should Ask & Answer
All of us have experienced that nervous energy in the hours leading up to a job interview. We’ve wondered what facility manager interview questions they will ask, what is the appropriate answer for each question, and how many candidates are up for the same position.
Traditional job interviews are already stressful. Now that we are navigating our way through the coronavirus pandemic, many facility management interviews have gone virtual — which can make the process even more nerve-racking.
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Although it’s important to note that not every interview will be remote. A Gartner survey from April of this year indicated 86% of organizations have replaced in-person interviews with video conferencing or phone calls.
Whether you’re meeting in-person or by video, preparation is the key to acing your interview.
How to prepare for your interview
Through careful study of the job description, as well as the hiring company’s history and mission statement, you can learn a lot about what facility manager interview questions you might be asked. Once you have done your research, compile a list of possible questions and practice your response.
Sometimes all it takes is one wrong answer to lose the position, so really take the time to prepare answers that showcase all that you have to offer. In this competitive job market, it could give you an edge.
Resources such as Glassdoor or LinkedIn can help you navigate the interview process. But sifting through all the possible facility manager interview questions can be overwhelming. We have compiled a list of the most common facility manager interview questions, how to answer them, and what you should be prepared to ask at the end of your interview.
Here are some common facility manager interview questions you can expect to be asked — and how to prepare your answer.
Facility manager interview questions:
- Tell me about yourself?
- What are your career goals as a facilities manager?
- What is your biggest weakness?
- What motivates you to be the best facilities manager?
- Why should we hire you for this FM position?
- How would you build a digital workplace for our company?
- How have you used data to make decisions?
- How would you improve the workplace experience at our company?
- How do you stay up on the latest facility management trends?
- Why did you leave your last job?
- If you were the hiring manager in this position, what would you look for?
- What do you know about our company?
- What are your strengths?
- Why do you want this job?
- Do you have any questions for me?
- What facility management certifications do you have?
- What workplace software systems and technology do you have experience using?
- What building repairs or projects do you have experience leading?
- What facility management skills are you still working to develop?
- How would you help us manage a safe return to the office?
- How would you support our hybrid workplace?
If you’re applying for a new job, you need to have an answer to these facility manager interview questions.
1. Tell me about yourself
This is a standard question and your response sets the tone for the rest of the interview. In preparing for this question, think about what the interviewer is looking for. You want to sell what the buyer is looking for, so be sure to match your qualifications with the specifics of this particular job. You only have 2-3 minutes to answer this question, so speak only of your professional career. Start with your present position and relate how it qualifies you for the job you are interviewing for.
Example: “Recently, I have worked for ABC Company as Facility Manager for the Northeast Branch. I lead numerous projects including a workspace redesign and software implementation. Through my efforts, our division saw a 37% increase in productivity and saved $1.2 million dollars in annual overhead costs.”
What not to say: “My name is… I grew up in… I graduated five years ago from the…, with a bachelor’s in… Upon graduating high school, I went to Denver for 5 years… I’ve worked in a variety of jobs…”
You’ll usually be asked this before the other facility manager interview questions, so you need to set the tone for the rest of your interview by laying the groundwork from the start. Drive home the message that you’re a great fit for this role — and when the following facility manager interview questions come up, you’ll be able to reinforce it.
2. What are your career goals as a facility manager?
These types of facility manager interview questions could be asked in any number of ways, such as “What are you looking for in a job?” or “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”. What the interviewer is looking for is always the same: They want you to connect the dots between your professional goals and the company. Directly relate your short and long-term goals to the job features, which will show you have done your research and are well-informed. If you know what you do not want in a position or why you are leaving your current job, incorporate that as well. Just be sure not to shed a bad light on your current employer, as that will reflect poorly on you.
Example: You are working as part of the facility management team and your goal is to become the assistant facilities manager in the next two years and in the next 5 years, you will be the regional facility manager.
What not to say: When answering one of these facility manager interview questions, try not to express goals that have little or no relation to the job you are interviewing for. For example, if you are applying for a position on the facilities management team, but your career goal is to become the head of marketing in the next 5 years.
3. What are your strengths?
This is one of the most common facility manager interview questions, regardless of the position you have applied for. Even if the interviewer does not ask this question, you should be fully prepared with an answer, as it will help you answer other questions. The interviewer is looking to determine if your strengths align with the company’s needs and what qualities, skills, and/or experience you have that set you apart from the competition. Sit down and create a list of your strengths. Then, go back and refine your list to only the most relevant and be prepared to give real-world examples of each strength.
Example: “I think one of my greatest strengths is as a problem solver. I have the ability to see a situation from various perspectives and I can get my work done even in the face of difficult obstacles. I also feel that my communication skills are top-notch. I am just as comfortable presenting to senior executives as I am mediating a conflict between junior team members. I worked in Human Resources, which allowed me to gain valuable insight into the needs of my fellow employees.”
What not to say: Many candidates choose strengths that do not stand out. When these type of facility manager interview questions come up, be sure to give an answer that stands out in the interviewer’s mind and leads back to why you are most qualified for the position.
4. What is your biggest weakness?
This question is asked in virtually every job interview and is designed to determine your critical thinking and self-awareness skills. Be prepared to answer this question as it is designed to be an eliminator question, weeding out those candidates that don’t deal well under pressure. Try to provide a weakness that everyone can relate to and never use an example that shows inappropriateness in your job. Give an honest, confident answer and always show how you have resolved these issues, either partly or wholly.
Example: “I tend to be a perfectionist, therefore it has been difficult for me to delegate to others. But I have found out that in order to develop the organization, as well as my team, everyone in the company must be experienced with many tasks.”
What not to say: “I am a perfectionist and therefore, I rarely believe in anyone who can work as well as me. As a result, I avoid delegating important tasks to others.”
5. What motivates you to be the best facilities manager?
Regardless of what profession you are a part of, motivation is the driving force behind your success. This is a personal question that only you can answer. Motivating examples are challenge, achievement, and recognition.
Examples: “I have always been motivated by both the challenge of finishing projects on time as I help the organization achieve our goal,” or “I want to be successful in my job, for my own personal satisfaction as well as for my employer and our customers.”
6. Why should we hire you for this FM position?
The interviewer could also pose this question as: “Why do you think you would do well at this job?” To properly answer these types of facility manager interview questions, you must be able to sell yourself. When preparing for the interview, make a list of all your positive attributes and how they relate to the FM profession, as well as the industry the organization is a part of. (For example: you are a quick learner and/or have excellent communication skills). Showcase your professional ambitions, such as motivation and your dedication to your position and the Facilities Management profession. Always highlight the similarities between your current job and the one you are interviewing for.
Example: “I am a quick learner and perform better under pressure. I adapt well to change and pride myself on motivating my teammates as we work to achieve the company’s common goals.”
What not to say: Avoid providing a laundry list of all your positive attributes; limit your list to those relevant to the position you are interviewing for.
7. How would you support the digital workplace at our company?
As workplaces shift toward the digital, so do the expectations of workplace leaders. As a Deloitte report said, it’s the facility manager’s responsibility to think ahead about the next steps for “the change in mobility, the layout of the offices, and contact with suppliers”. You’ll want to showcase that you understand what the digital workplace supports and how you can contribute to these elements. Be prepared to talk intelligently about the digital workplace and its relationship to flexibility, mobility, and connectivity.
Think about how your vision and strategy align with these elements. How would you build a safe environment that encourages employees to communicate and collaborate? How would you design a space that is well-received by employees with different kinds of personalities and work styles?
Example: “I would start by ensuring every employee has the digital tools they need to stay connected and be productive, no matter where they are working. Employees expect the technology they use in the workplace to be just as easy and user-friendly as the apps they use at home. And in a 2018 CBRE study, 59% of executives said they plan to add mobile apps that make it easier for employees to navigate the workplace and find the resources they need — so I’d start there.”
What not to say: “Building a digital workplace? That wasn’t in the job description…”
8. How have you used data to make decisions?
In the modern-day workplace, data is the new oil. Facilities managers need to know how to effectively collect and analyze workplace data and use it to make improvements.
Showcase your skills in this realm by providing specific examples of how you’ve used data to improve efficiency in the workplace. Be detailed in describing the types of information you used and how you gathered it. You want to let employers see that you can make objective decisions based on data rather than simply going off assumptions.
This is also a chance for you to showcase the types of workplace technology you’ve used (for example, IWMS). Experience in this space and knowledge of the latest technology trends are characteristics that are sure to make you stand out. Consider discussing recent developments in technology, such as Space-Right™, that support workplace leaders as they plan a safe return to work.
Example: “In my last role, we used IoT sensors to collect space utilization data, which revealed that many of our private offices were only being used half the time. As a result, we converted those private offices into small conference rooms people could reserve when they needed them. This improved our space utilization by nearly 50%.”
What not to do: Don’t be caught off-guard by these types of facility manager interview questions. Even if your experience in this area has been limited, you need to demonstrate you understand the importance of using data and speak to what you’ve done so far.
9. How would you improve the workplace experience at our company?
The primary purpose of a corporation is no longer to create value for shareholders but to invest in all stakeholders—including employees. In a recent Fortune 500 CEO survey, 97.2% of top CEOs said keeping employees safe and productively employed is their top concern, the number one priority by rank.
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Considering safety and employee experience are top of mind for business leaders, they should also be a priority for facilities managers. According to bestselling author Jacob Morgan, the employee experience consists of three things:
- The physical workplace
- Workplace technology
- The company culture, influenced by policy
Facilities managers can make meaningful improvements in the workplace experience by creating an environment that supports collaboration and productivity and choosing workplace technology that reduces friction. When you’re asked one of these types of facility mangaer interview questions, you should give an example of an improvement you made in a previous role that may be applicable in your new role.
Example: “At my last workplace, reserving conference rooms had become a huge source of frustration. We implemented a desk booking solution, which made it much easier for people to find available rooms and reserve them at a moment’s notice.”
What not to do: Don’t make the mistake of assuming the employee experience is primarily an HR responsibility. Take ownership of your role in it!
10. How do you stay up on the latest facility management trends?
This is your opportunity to show you’re a lifelong learner who embraces change. It’s also a chance for you to show how you would bring new ideas to the company, which will make you invaluable. Be prepared to talk about relevant blogs or podcasts you subscribe to, as well as any workplace conferences you’ve attended.
Example: “I’m a member of my local IFMA chapter and attend meetings regularly. I also enjoy listening to the Workplace Innovator podcast.”
What not to do: Don’t respond to these types of facility manager interview questions with a blank stare — show you’re invested in the FM community!
11. Why did you leave your last job?
This is one of the most commonly asked facility manager interview questions in the interview process, so be prepared with an answer. Answer honestly, but avoid answers that shed you and your work in a negative light.
Example: “There is no opportunity for promotion in my current position and I am ready to take on new opportunities and challenges.”
What not to do: Avoid any answers that speak ill of your old boss, company, or colleagues. While we have all had setbacks at some point in our careers, this is not the time to discuss your troubles in a previous position.
12. If you were the hiring manager for this position, what would you look for?
Prepare for this question before going in, by really examining what exactly this job would entail and how you would measure success. Facility manager interview questions like this one are designed to be a trap, weeding out those candidates that don’t have a clear understanding as to what their role would be. The facilities management role is changing, and FM leaders are being asked to take on more strategic responsibilities. They need to be able to demonstrate their worth with facility management metrics that prove they are maximizing space utilization, reducing costs, and increasing workplace productivity. And they need to be skilled at using workplace technology (such as IWMS software) not only to get the job done but also to enhance the employee experience.
Example: Say you would hire either the best candidate for the job or an individual possessing the qualities and strengths you told the interviewer you hold. By doing this, you make yourself the candidate you would hire without explicitly saying this.
Be sure to focus on qualities that are especially relevant during this time. Emphasize your communication skills, intentional decision-making abilities, organization, and agility — all qualities that will be essential as businesses navigate the current and future crises.
What not to do: Never say that you are the best candidate for the job, as you have no idea what qualifications the other candidates hold.
13. What do you know about our company?
As a facilities manager, you will be expected to be a leader in every facet of the organization. To do your job properly, you must know every aspect of the company you work for and the industry it is a part of. You must also show a willingness to consistently learn and grow. This is your first opportunity to put those skills to work. Anyone can read the company’s mission and spout out the information on the “About Us” page. Dig deeper for information and relate the organization and position back to your passions and experience.
Example: If you find that the company is very involved in raising money for animal rights, talk about how you are a foster for the Humane Society or raised money for the animals in the local 5K race.
14. Why do you want this job?
This is another instance of facility manager interview questions in which the interviewer is probing to see how well you understand this position, what all it entails, how well you might match the job requirements, and what appeals to you most about the position. Your answer should be focused on what you can offer to strengthen the company and, in doing so, you should demonstrate that you fully understand what the role entails.
Example: “One of the reasons I’m so excited about this role is because it allows me to leverage my facility management skills on a broader basis and face more complex challenges.”
What not to say: “I like your salary and benefits package.” OR “I believe that this job will help me assume another level of responsibility in my career.” Take the emphasis off your personal reasons and make it about how your professional experience can positively impact the organization.
15. Do you have any questions for me?
So, now that you have gotten through the initial part of the facility manager interview questions, the focus turns to you. At the end of the interview, you are always given the opportunity to ask questions of the interviewing manager. The number one mistake a candidate can make is to not have any questions for the interviewer. You may have been the leading candidate up until now, but if your questions are not up to par, you could fall to dead last.
Ask questions that spark conversation — these typically begin with “who”, “why”, “when”, or “how”. Avoid close-ended questions that can be answered in one word. These questions typically start with “is”, “does”, “did”, “would”, or “has.”
In addition to specific facility manager interview questions, Forbes recently posted an article suggesting COVID-19-related questions to ask potential employers.
A few examples are:
- “Now that we have discussed my qualifications, do you have any concerns about me fulfilling the responsibilities of this position?”
- “What are the company’s biggest challenges right now and in what ways will this role help alleviate those challenges?”
- “As my direct manager for this position, what are the three top priorities you would first like to see accomplished?”
- “I know things are quite uncertain right now but as we continue to navigate this time, what are the company’s top priorities and plans for the next few months?”
- “In what area could your team use a little polishing?”
- “Why did you come to ABC Company?”
- Ask how many vacation days the position offers.
- Tell the interviewing manager that all your questions have been answered already.
Technical questions for a facility manager
In addition to these questions, you should be prepared to answer more technical questions about your background and experience as a facility manager. Here are a few:
16. What facility management certifications do you have?
While not all facility management jobs require certification, becoming certified is a great way to set yourself apart from the competition. It demonstrates your commitment to the profession and shows you have expertise in specific areas. IFMA offers a number of certifications and professional development programs, including:
- Facility Management Professional (FMP)
- Certified Facility Manager (CFM)
- Facility Management Learning System
- Sustainability Facility Professional
- RICS Chartered Qualification
- RICS Associate Qualification
You may also consider becoming certified through the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) International, which offers courses on asset management, energy efficiency and sustainability, and real estate and property management.
What not to do: Don’t be caught offguard by this question. Even if you don’t have any certifications, you should be familiar with the most common ones and be working toward obtaining at least one of them.
17. What workplace software systems and technology do you have experience using?
It’s one thing to give examples of how you’ve used data to make decisions in previous roles; it’s another to be comfortable using the technology your prospective company already has. If you know where to look to get the latest space utilization data, how to update your floor plans to accommodate changing capacity, and how to quickly compile a report to justify consolidating two underused buildings, you’ll have less of a learning curve in your new role.
Even if you haven’t used the same software the company has, experience with a similar system is always helpful. If this question doesn’t come up, asking the interviewer what software they use gives you the opportunity to share your knowledge. If they don’t already have a system in place, they may be looking to you for recommendations. In this case, it’s important to show them you know how to evaluate your options to find the best workplace software system.
What not to do: Don’t pretend to be familiar with workplace technology you haven’t used before. While it may help you get the job, you don’t want to start a position under false pretenses.
18. What building repairs or projects do you have experience leading?
Facility management involves overseeing building construction, renovation, maintenance, and much more. While you don’t necessarily need a construction background, you do need to be able to speak the language and have strong project management skills. You should know your way around computer-aided design software, for instance, and be able to read blueprints. You also need to be able to manage multiple vendors while keeping a close eye on costs and the overall project timeline.
What not to do: Don’t exaggerate your level of involvement in previous facility management projects. If someone else led the project and you assisted, that’s still valuable experience. And don’t take all the credit. Facility management is a team sport, and you want to demonstrate you’re a team player. Be sure to emphasize how you worked with different department leaders and vendors to get the job done.
19. What facility management skills are you still working to develop?
Like the question about your greatest weakness, this is an opportunity to reflect and be honest, not a moment for humblebragging. Think about this question before your interview and be prepared with a thoughtful response. Perhaps you haven’t been as involved in facility maintenance in previous roles, but you’re eager to take on the added responsibility. Maybe you haven’t had as much input in corporate real estate strategy in the past, but you know you can add a lot of value here as the company rethinks its use of office space. Whatever facility management experience you lack, focus on why it’s important to you and what you’re doing to grow in this area.
What not to say: Don’t give a canned answer based on what you think the interviewer wants to hear. Yes, most of us could improve our communication skills or become better at prioritizing tasks, but this doesn’t reveal much about you as a potential facility manager.
20. How would you help us manage a safe return to the office?
Following the pandemic, helping people return to the office safely is a facility manager’s most important responsibility. Everyone is facing these challenges for the first time, so it’s OK that it’s your first rodeo too. Be prepared to talk about how you would help the company protect its workforce in a variety of ways, including:
- Maintaining social distancing by moving workspaces farther apart
- Screening visitors according to your safety and wellness standards
- Managing contact tracing
- Improving cleaning and sanitization protocols
- Communicating your return-to-work plan and sharing the latest updates
If you can recommend return-to-office technology solutions to make these tasks easier, that’s even better.
What not to say: Don’t make assumptions about how a return to the office will look. Acknowledge that every company has different needs, and don’t be afraid to ask for clarification about what your potential employer envisions.
21. How would you support our hybrid workplace?
The hybrid workplace is here to stay, which means you’ll have a lot to consider beyond coronavirus concerns. For instance, if the company plans to move away from assigned seating, you’ll need a process for managing desk hoteling. You will also need to monitor space utilization more closely so you can make adjustments accordingly and better plan for the future.
Reservation software and occupancy sensors can help you identify trends and ensure you have the space to meet your needs for years to come. Making the transition to a hybrid workplace is just as much about managing cultural change, so you’ll also need to reconsider your policies and amenities. What may have been important to employees when they came into the office daily may be less of a concern today. For instance, instead of visiting the cafeteria daily or going off-site for lunch, they might be more likely to order food and have it delivered to the office.
What not to say: While implementing the right technology is a critical part of both returning to the office and supporting the hybrid workplace, don’t ignore the importance of strategy. As a facility manager, developing and leading that strategy will be a big part of your job.
Taking the next step in your facility management career
Now that you’ve made it through the interview and hopefully landed the job, you want to make the best impression in your first 90 days. Ask your new boss how they will define success for your role and what three to five business objectives are the highest priority for your company in the next year. Determine what you can do to help support those objectives and develop your own priority list.
This will make it easier to stay focused on what’s most important even when you’re dealing with urgent matters each day.
For instance, if one of your company objectives is to expand into the European market, you’ll need to determine how many new employees will need office space there in the coming year and what technology and amenities will be most important to them.
There will always be new employees who need desks and equipment, assets to maintain, and plumbing emergencies to attend to, but you also bring tremendous strategic value to the organization as a facility manager. Stay focused on the facility management metrics that matter most, and check out these recommendations from facility leaders to have a successful start!