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Animal Shelter Worker Interview

25 Questions and Answers by Rachelle Enns

Updated August 17th, 2018 | Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.
Question 1 of 25
What was your greatest cost-cutting measurement you accomplished at your previous employer?
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How to Answer
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.
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Top 25 Animal Shelter Worker Interview Questions with Full Content
What was your greatest cost-cutting measurement you accomplished at your previous employer?
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.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"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."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"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%."
Tell me about a time when you went above and beyond the requirements of the job.
The interviewer wants to know that you are not the type of employee to do just enough to scrape by. You can give an example from any of your past volunteer jobs or your professional experience. Show that you are willing to do what it takes to keep the shelter clean and to keep the animals happy.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I love to impress my employer. I currently work at a pet store and will often stay late to help out a customer who arrives just as the doors are closing. I get to know our regular customers, and even remember the names of their pets! It keeps customers coming back when they feel like they are part of a community."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"When I was waiting tables at a restaurant, I would always roll the silverware and wipe down the tables every time I started my shift. My boss never had to ask me to sweep the floor or remind me of my daily duties because I was always on top of things. People enjoyed working with me because I had such a positive attitude and I worked hard. I always offered to cover shifts and make myself available to my coworkers for support when they needed it."
Tell me about a situation where you needed to be patient.
Patience is essential, whether you're dealing with a demanding customer or an untrained dog. Your patience helps you to listen to others and deal with the types of problems that can arise with the animals at the shelter. Explain to the interviewer that you able to relax and focus on taking care of your daily duties, even when it means being patient with others.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"When I was working in retail, we often had a lot of downtime in between customers. I filled the in-between by keeping busy, folding clothes, cleaning and making sure that all of the shelves were stocked. I learned that sometimes being patient just means keeping yourself occupied while you wait for the next sale."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"During my time in university, I have needed to exercise a lot of patience as I worked in groups and teams to complete many important projects. I have an above average work ethic which means at times I need to pick up the slack of others."
When you suffer a setback, how does that emotionally affect you and your work?
Setbacks often happen in environments like animal shelters, where you cannot always control or predict the events of a day. Everyone handles the stress and disappointment of setbacks differently. Discuss with the interviewer how you typically cope with setbacks in the workplace.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"Experiencing a setback is always disappointing, and can be a bit disheartening, but I understand that it happens from time to time. If I experience a major setback I will take a few moments to debrief with my manager and discuss what I could have done differently. Then, I move on!"
Rachelle's Answer #2
"Setbacks happen for a reason, and they do not affect me emotionally in the least. I fully understand that, when working with animals, one cannot always predict how a day will turn out. I am a very pragmatic thinker and stay focused despite the challenges that come my way."
Tell me about a time when you made a suggestion requesting change in an organization.
In addition to being able to handle change, can you also recognize when change is required and be confident enough to present that to your organization? Talk to the interviewer about a time when you were able to suggest a change in the workplace.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"Last year when I was managing the scheduling I noticed a pretty solid opportunity for us to save on overtime hours. I created a presentation and gave it to my manager who took it to upper management. The changes were implemented, and I was very proud of the suggestion that I made."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I asked my manager if I could head up a social media strategy for the shelter. I thought it would help the community to understand us better as well as feature some of the animals who had been in our shelter longer than average. We quickly gained a following and our adoption rate went up by 34% in the first month."
What are your salary expectations?
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.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"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."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"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."
Why are you the best choice for our animal shelter?
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.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"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."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"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"
How do you handle stress and pressure?
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.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"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."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"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."
Why do you want a career as an animal shelter worker?
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.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"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."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"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."
Due to budgeting, we do not have many back-up staff members. How many days were you absent from work last year?
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.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"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."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I cannot recall the exact number, but I think it was around three days total. All absences were excused and with notice."
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