This animal shelter is likely non-profit, operating strictly on municipal funds and donations. This is why the interviewer will want to hear about ways in which you have been able to help a previous employer to save money. Discuss a time when you helped your employer to cut costs.
"My biggest cost reducing plan was to source new suppliers for our animal food and cleaning supplies. By doing some extra research, I was able to bring costs down by 20% in less than one year by switching vendors."
"The greatest cost-cutting measurement that I accomplished at work was in my retail sales position. I made new suggestions for theft prevention. Since we implemented some of my suggestions our loss, due to theft, has decreased 12%."
"I am tremendously conscious of costs and spending since I have managed two other shelters in the past. I understand that funds are low in this industry. The biggest impact that I have made in the past was through onboarding more volunteers and changing vendors for supplies. These changes saved us over $30K last year."
The best thing that you can do when asked about your salary expectations is to be open and honest about what you are currently earning, and where you want to be in the future.
"I can share with you what I am currently earning, and where I would like to be in my next position. Currently, I am earning a base salary of $23K plus an annual bonus opportunity of an additional 10%. Last year my earnings were $25K, and I'd like to earn a bit above that in my next position."
"As I am new to my career and this industry, I am happy to negotiate my earnings based on your typical salary for this role."
"I would like to earn equivalent, or slightly above where I am now. Currently, I earn XX/hour with some opportunity for overtime. My target income is XX."
Animal shelters are looking for individuals who are dedicated and motivated to do their best in every situation. They want people with an excellent work ethic who are fun and friendly. Shelters are looking for people who can communicate well with the team and work independently. Talk about your strengths, and share some of your accomplishments! Explain how you will go above and beyond to accomplish your daily tasks and be a constant support to the animals and your coworkers.
"I'm qualified and passionate about your cause. I am excited about the idea of delivering value to your organization and will hustle for the opportunity to go above and beyond for your organization."
"If you can't think of ways that you are unique, ask a few friends or family members what they feel sets you apart from other people. Their observations may help you understand how you are perceived. Some unique qualities that set you apart may be: - Experience in fundraising - Volunteer experience - Exposure to animals and animal care - Related post-secondary experience - Vocational training "
"I have over a dozen years of experience in animal care, both in a clinical setting and a shelter setting. I have a proven track record of increasing animal adoption rates, and I will bring that knowledge and creativity to your organization."
If you enjoy working with animals and don't mind the dirty details, you may like working as an animal shelter worker! The interviewer wants to know that you understand the job description and that you are enthusiastic about the associated responsibilities. Share a few aspects of the job that you are excited about.
"I love working with animals, especially dogs and cats! I have always wanted to help with the animal adoption process. It's so important to find a safe home for displaced animals."
"I have researched the work associated with animal shelters, and I feel that it could be the fulfilling position I have been looking for, for quite some time. I like to know that I am making a difference in this world and have always been passionate about animals."
"I have spent the past four years working in a veterinary clinic as an administrative assistant. Seeing all of the animals come in who need better homes is what caused me to start pursuing a more hands-on position at an animal rescue."
Animal shelters do not have the luxury of employing excess people so, when you are absent - it is noticed. A part of being a diligent employee is to ensure that you are always on time and present when expected. It's great to even be 10 minutes early rather than just showing up right on the dot. Talk to the interviewer about your attendance and reliability.
"I had zero unexcused absences last year. In total, I took six vacation days out of my ten allotted days. I was sick just 2, and those were accompanied by a note from my doctor. Once I was late due to a terrible snow storm, and I always try to be 10 minutes early for my shift."
"I cannot recall the exact number, but I think it was around three days total. All absences were excused and with notice."
"I think I missed ten days, counting vacation time. Of those, five were for my vacation. For three days, I was excused under a doctor's note. The other two absences were pre-approved family days."
Imagine you are helping a person adopt a dog. You are concentrating on completing their paperwork but in the meantime, dogs are barking loudly in the background and a new volunteer has just informed you that one of the dogs appears to be in distress. Sometimes working at an animal shelter is a tough job! Since shelters are non-profits, you often have volunteers to manage as well. Share with the interviewer that you know how to stay calm under pressure. You are capable of handling the most stressful situations because you have learned tools like deep breathing to help to remain calm.
"I handle stress very well and when you call my references, they will attest to this fact. When I am under pressure on the job, I focus on the task at hand and make sure to not get distracted. Staying on deadline is very helpful and I will delegate when necessary to alleviate some stress."
"Stress is part of any demanding job, and I embrace it to the fullest. I take good care of myself and prioritize my workload to maintain a healthy balance in my stress levels."
"Through my eight years of experience working as a veterinary assistant, I have learned a great deal about the stress associated with helping animals. An animal cannot speak to you and tell you what they need, and when they are in distress - this can be upsetting. I keep myself collected in the workplace by keeping my eye on the prize, which is a healthy, happy animal."
As an animal shelter worker, there will always be tasks that you don't enjoy. From scooping poop to dealing with low funds and cost-cutting, you will experience trying times. Tell the interviewer about how your passion keeps you going! Talk about the little things you do to stay motivated. You will always have your coworkers for support, so expressing how you make an effort to develop those relationships is another great thing to share!
"I am passionate about working with animals! I understand the challenges I may experience as an animal shelter worker, and I'm not worried about it. Whenever I start to feel discouraged, I think about how I am making a difference in the lives of these animals."
"To stay motivated, I read inspirational quotes and share them with my coworkers. My coworkers and I are very supportive of each other, and I know I can go to one of them if I'm having a hard day. I look forward to building new, and strong, relationships with your team."
"Animals are my life and so, knowing that I am saving their life in return, is all the motivation that I need."
Many animal shelter workers struggle with the emotional bond they develop with the animals. When you get close to a dog after spending countless hours together, it will always be difficult to say goodbye. The interviewer wants to hear that you have coping skills to deal with these types of experiences. Talk about how you have learned to be hopeful and stay motivated, even when you feel discouraged by the loss of an animal friend.
"It can be unfortunate to be around dogs that have been stuck at the shelter for months at a time. Luckily, I work at a no-kill shelter, but it can be discouraging when the dogs aren't able to be adopted, or when they are brought back by a new owner. I keep a positive attitude and stay focused on the goal of finding the best homes for these deserving animals."
"To me, the most significant challenge will be the emotions that come with seeing broken animals come to the shelter. With that said, I suspect that seeing an animal leave to a good home will make up for the upsetting emotions."
"Over the years I have found that the most challenging aspect of working in a shelter is onboarding reliable volunteers and retaining them. Individuals are not always reliable, and that makes our job very difficult."
Everyone has some dream or aspirations on where their career could go. When you think about the future, what comes to mind? Openly share with the interviewer where you'd like to see your job take you. Be sure to include how you feel this particular company would fit in with those specific aspirations.
"I have some pretty lofty career aspirations, and after researching your organization and learning more about this position, I feel that this role fits with my future aspirations. I would love to see myself promoted based on my hard work and results, eventually managing my own location, and working my way into a marketing and fundraising director type of role."
"I would love to become a veterinarian one day. I love working with animals and would be thrilled to work at your shelter while I attend school."
"I want to get into a company that I can stay with and grow long term. While change is good, I like the comforts of having something familiar around me. I aspire to grow into a leadership position and teach volunteers the ins and outs of rescue animal care."
You may be the most easy-going person on the planet, but there could come a time when you disagreed with a new policy or a change in a procedure. Offer a mature response that shows you are thoughtful and conscious of the big picture. It's always a good idea to ask your manager questions and understand the requirements. Communication is key!
"I would first talk with my manager to make sure I understood the expectation correctly. It could be that I was interpreting it wrong or that there was some miscommunication. If I still had an issue, I would take some time to think about how I can deal with it. I've learned to pick my battles and to be adaptable as much as I can."
"If I had an issue with a policy or procedure I would first try to break down, for myself, why I disagreed with it. Usually, it will just be a small aspect of the policy and not the policy as a whole."
"Policies and procedures are in place for a reason, and I am not the personality type to reject policy. If I heartily disliked a policy, I would research the ins and outs of it, and then bring it up with my manager to further discuss."
The interviewer wants to find out about your previous experience. If you have volunteered at a shelter before, talk about your responsibilities and what you learned. You may have been responsible for cleaning cages and walking dogs. Perhaps you got some experience handling birds or ferrets! If you haven't volunteered at an animal shelter before, talk about your previous animal handling experience.
"I have spent time volunteering at this particular shelter! It was a couple of years ago, but my experience was very positive which is why I jumped on the opportunity to apply here when I read your job ad."
"I have not volunteered with your particular organization; however, I do have experience volunteering at animal adoption drives with our local pet store."
"I have volunteered for some organizations including the animal society, the food bank, and a women's shelter. I see the value in volunteering and have a strong network of volunteers who would be happy to help out here as well."
Animal shelter workers are often required to work long hours, especially if you are a full-time employee. You may be required to work overtime if a coworker calls in sick or during a time of crisis. Before you agree to any schedule, be sure to know your availability! Now is a great time to ask about the schedule. You also want to express that you are willing to work the hours required and that you can be flexible in emergency situations.
"I am willing to work whatever hours you need me. Can you tell me a little more about what to expect from the schedule?"
"I am new to my career and understand that my hours need to be extra flexible as I build my career. I can make most schedules work. What are your expectations for this role?"
"I'm primarily looking for a day shift position knowing that it will include weekends. I'm available to work other shifts; I just need a few days to coordinate child care."
Even if you don't have much experience giving medication to animals orally or by injection, you can learn! The interviewer wants to know that you are confident handling large dogs and not afraid to get your hands dirty. They will feel more confident in your ability if you have a positive attitude and a willingness to learn.
"I love working with all types of animals, especially dogs. I have an older chocolate lab at home, and I give him his heartworm medication and glucosamine for his hips."
"I am sure that I'll be well trained here when it comes to administering medication. As far as large breed dogs, I am very comfortable."
"I have administered medication to large breed dogs many times during my time as an animal worker. I am very comfortable with this responsibility."
Some dogs have deep-rooted behavioral problems, and you will have to consider putting them down. These are unfortunate circumstances, but they are a reality if you work in an animal shelter. Just as you would have to learn to control your emotions after bonding with a dear creature who gets adopted, you will also need to learn how to maintain a professional demeanor in these situations. Explain to the interviewer that you will do your best to avoid this situation by helping train and adopt out as many animals as you can, but that you also understand the harsh reality of euthanization. You can deal with the stress of this situation and set your emotions aside when you need to.
"I have been in this situation before. There is no easy way to handle it. As an animal worker, I understand that some animals are beyond repair. In these cases, I remind myself that they are in a better place and finding the peace they needed."
"I cannot imagine how tough this situation would be, especially when you become attached to particular animals in the shelter. I would remind myself that euthanization is not a trivial decision and it will likely be the best one for that particular situation."
"I have spent many years volunteering and working in animal shelters. Although euthanization is a controversial subject, realistically - it's a necessity at times. If an animal is violent, for instance, that behavior cannot be changed. It never becomes easy to witness, regardless of the circumstance."
When you meet someone who is looking to adopt, it's important to ask them questions about their lifestyle and what they're looking for in a pet. It's also essential for you to be familiar with all of the animals in your shelter so that you know which ones might be a good fit. Talk about how you will get to know the animals and the person who is adopting them.
"I always interview customers, in depth, to find out exactly what they're looking for. The more information I have about them, the easier it is to find the right pet for them."
"I feel that the better I get to know the potential pet owners, and what their expectations are, the better I can match them with the right pet. Another component of matching will be to get to know the animals on a deeper level."
"We spend a lot of time training and socializing the dogs at the shelter, which helps us get to know them better. I always make sure that the customer has as much information as I can provide for their future pet so that they can make the best decision for both the animal and the new owner."
If you are going to be an animal shelter worker, you will need to learn how to be comfortable with all animals. This means ferrets and rodents too! It's amazing the types of animals people will keep as pets. You will learn how to handle a wide range of breeds, from a Great Pyrenees dog to a small rabbit. The interviewer wants to know that you are comfortable dealing with all animals. If you have any discomfort about handling a specific animal, let's say a Pittbull, let them know you are willing to learn more about that breed. The more you know, the more confident you will be in handling any animal.
"When I was a child, I was bitten on the face by a Doberman pinscher. I will be able to work with them; however, it may take me a little longer than normal to warm up to that breed."
"I am not overly experienced with reptiles but am happy to learn how to care for them."
"I love all animals! I have yet to be near an animal that I didn't adore. Truly, I look forward to the range of creatures I will be exposed to while working here."
When an abused animal is dropped off at the shelter, it can be difficult to fight back the tears. One of the lessons you will learn is that you may never understand why someone would abuse a helpless animal. You will have to develop a certain level of tolerance and understanding about some of these injustices. Explain to the interviewer how you handle your emotions during those tough moments.
"I have spent time with abused and neglected animals in the past. Even though it is incredibly disheartening, I have learned how to keep myself together. I always remind myself that there is so much outside of my control. I do my best to support the animals once they are in my care."
"That is a tough one to answer because I have such a soft heart for animals. The way I see it is that once they reach our shelter, it's like a do-over for them. I would focus less on the sadness and more on what I can do to help them progress."
"I have seen this situation time and time again. It doesn't get easier, either. What I choose to do, to move past the emotions, is focus on how happy the animal is going to be in the short term. I dedicate all of my love to them, and they feel it. It's a wonderful bond when you can help a formerly abused animal."
Which personal strengths make you excellent at your job? Advantages can be skills or qualities that help you overcome difficult circumstances or accomplish challenging tasks. In a work context, your strengths will help you to complete your to-do list, understand client needs, and help you to apply what you have learned in your training. Talk to the interviewer about a couple of your strengths and why those will help you to be successful in this role.
"I think my strengths are in my perceptiveness and ability to be observant of the needs of the animals, and my customers. These strengths are part of what makes me an excellent animal shelter worker."
"Some great strengths to mention are: - Communicative - Loyal - Collaborative - Tech Savvy - Flexible in Schedule/Availability - Persistent and Determined - Eager for Knowledge/New Skills "
"My strongest skills that help me daily are my people-skills, and the ability to close an animal adoption without being pushy. I relate to the customer, get to know them and their needs, build a rapport and can make solid recommendations that suit them."
Non-profit funding comes in several different ways. They receive some funding from grants, donations and also fundraising. Animal Shelters will typically hire a person to be in charge of fundraising, but that doesn't mean they won't need your help! If you have experience with fundraising, you understand the challenges of organizing and promoting events. If you don't have insider experience, talk about some fundraisers in which you have participated. Your volunteer experience is valuable! Share any helpful tools you've learned from marketing events as well as any lessons you learned from your experience.
"In addition to my degree in online marketing, I have helped to organize community events with the purpose of raising funds. One was for the local animal humane society. What a great experience it was! I look forward to additional exposure to fundraising."
"I have helped to fundraise at my university as well as my local church group. My experiences have been fun, and I would love to be exposed to more fundraising related tasks."
"I have worked for numerous non-profits in the past, so my experience with fundraising is vast. I also have a diploma in marketing. These two pieces together make me a great resource when it comes to raising funds for your animal shelter."
When the interviewer asks about your work ethic, they are looking for specific examples or keywords to which they can relate. When you read the job posting or job description, do they refer to particular ethics? Talk about their values and how those align well with your personal work values.
"I am a very dedicated and loyal employee. I saw on your website that you describe your organization as honest, transparent with your funding, and you go the extra mile for your adoption clients. My work ethic is the same. I am honest, flexible, and come ready to work hard for my employer every day."
"Some characteristics you may want to use are: - Determined/Driven - Accountable - Humble - Respectful - Dependable "
"I see myself as driven, dependable, and loyal. I always have my eye on the prize and what I want to achieve; I am always ready to jump into action whenever someone needs me; I stick with a company for the long term and love to grow with one organization, and help it improve in the process. I believe that my managers would describe me this way, too."
Pick weaknesses that are not a core skill for this position. You can be candid in your answer; recognizing that you aren't great at something and acknowledging your need to improve. Be sure to have an action plan in place for improving on this weakness. Perhaps you are watching TED talks to gain skills in a particular area, reading the latest-and-greatest book on the subject, or maybe you are taking a seminar at a nearby community center. We are all human with our weaknesses, so don't be afraid to share yours!
"I believe I could improve on some technical skills including Excel and PowerPoint. Currently I am at a beginner to intermediate level; however, I would be more comfortable at an advanced level. I have enrolled myself in an evening/weekend workshop for the next six weeks. We will see how stellar my skills are after that course!"
"Everyone has weaknesses. I tend to be too nice sometimes. When vendors are not fulfilling their requirements, I tend to believe there must be a logical and understandable reason. I have to remind myself that we are paying for a service and they must meet our expectations."
"My primary weakness in the workplace surrounds my technical abilities. I consider myself a beginner level user in Excel, so I have decided to start a course this fall to expand on those skills."
Animal shelter workers care for domesticated animals that have arrived at the shelter for a variety of reasons. Some animals have been surrendered by their owners while others may have been rescued from abusive situations. Animal shelter workers are passionate about animals with extensive knowledge of various breeds and how to care for them.
Most animal shelters have a variety of animals such as dogs, cats, bunnies, and reptiles. Caring for these animals includes feeding, grooming, exercising, training and spending time with them. Other duties include cleaning up after the animals, administering medication. For a true animal lover, this could be a dream job.
Part of the role of an animal shelter worker is to help re-home the animals in your care. This includes taking photos of each animal and writing a catchy profile on them for the purpose of posting the profile on the shelter website, in the newspaper, and on social media.
An animal shelter worker, it is important to generate interest in animal adoption throughout your community. Once there is interest in adoption, an animal shelter worker will put the potential adopter through a rigorous application and interview process. The primary goal is to ensure that the animal is going to a safe, healthy, life-long home.
Many animal shelters are heavily funded through donations, community efforts, and government. As an animal shelter worker, you will likely spend time with volunteer shelter workers. You may also have open houses for the community to meet some of the animals awaiting adoption.
To gain employment at as an animal shelter worker there is no formal post-secondary education required. A high school diploma or GED will generally be enough. A certificate in animal grooming or training, for example, could be an asset.