Not a single domestic animal deserves to end on the street. And though animal shelter isn’t an ideal place for dogs, cats, rabbits and other pets, it is a temporary home where they get food, water, medication, and also a little caress from time to time, until their new owner arrives, and takes them home. It is a great place for work for anyone who loves animals, and wants to contribute to their well-being in one way or another. Do you also want to work in an animal shelter?
You can expect a relatively easy interview. Animal shelters are typically municipal or non-profit organizations. People working there are either volunteers, or employees earning a minimum wage, and hence you will never compete for the job with many other people. It makes your situation easier.
What is more, the manager won’t ask you any particularly difficult questions. They know that you will learn most things on the job. As long as they see that you love animals, are willing to learn and work hard, they will give you a chance. Let’s have a look at the questions you may face.
We experience sad things in a shelter from time to time, such as receiving an abused animal, or seeing one of the animals die. How do you plan to deal with it emotionally?
Ensure them that you are ready for both good and bad things. The shelter should primarily help animals in distress, animals their owners abandoned. Hence you do not wear pink glasses, and know that many animals will arrive to the shelter in a bad condition.
And though it won’t be a pleasant spectacle, instead of dwelling on it, you prefer to focus on what you can do for the animals to make their life better. You may shed a tear here and there, and say some bad words on an address of a person who did a bad thing to an animal. But then you will simply focus on your job, trying to help each animal get back on track, regain their fitness, and start trusting people again.
How do you imagine a typical day in the shelter?
You can point out few duties you imagine taking care of, such as feeding the animals, taking them for a walk, cleaning the cages, making sure that every animal is all right and doesn’t need an attention of the veterinarian, and so on.
It is always important to mention the cleaning duties in your answer, because that’s what nobody likes, but it is an important part of the job. Another alternative is saying that you cannot exactly imagine your day, because you do not understand the organization of the shelter and responsibilities of other employees. But you are ready to take care of any duties they assign to you, as long as they benefit the animals.
I distinctly remember being asked in my interview for an Executive Director position over ten years ago if I could handle euthanasia. I wanted the job, so I of course answered to the affirmative. The truth is, I’m still wondering what it means to “handle” euthanasia – but luckily I had enough of the skills which that organization really needed in an Executive Director that things worked out OK. Luck, however, isn’t the best way to make hiring decisions.
Seasoned managers and human resource professionals – if they’re being honest – will acknowledge that hiring is one of the scariest tasks of a manager. Most of us have made as many poor hiring decisions as excellent ones. A process known as “Behavioral Interviewing” can take some of the guess work out of your hiring, markedly increasing your success at good hiring decisions.
Behavioral interviewing is based on the premise that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. Rather than asking hypothetical questions (“how would you handle…?”) to determine if a person is a good fit for your position, you will ask the candidate to describe a time when s/he has encountered a similar situation and how s/he handled it.
4. Conduct the interviews. (You will only be talking about 10% of the time; the candidate fills the bulk of the time describing her/his work/life experiences in behavioral terms.) Listen for the candidate to identify situations, actions taken, and results/outcomes. Keep notes of these, to help you review the results of all interviews and identify the candidate who most closely meets your competence requirements. (Ideally, two or three interviewers ask different but related questions in separate interviews, and then compare notes.)