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Asking the Right Questions

The following sample interview questions are taken from a list developed by HSUS employment manager Nancy Allen. The questions are specifically designed to help determine whether an applicant possesses characteristics employers often seek; they are general enough to apply to most jobs and can be tailored according to the position in question.

Analytical Ability:

Give me an example of a potential work problem that you anticipated and resolved. What are some of the measures you took to prevent the situation from becoming a problem in the future?

Communication Skills:

Describe a time when your listening abilities helped you communicate better.

Creativity:

Describe a time when you broke away from the regimented way of doing things and developed a creative solution.

Decision-making Skills:

In your prior job, what decision did you ponder the longest before making? Why was it difficult?

Diversity Orientation:

How do you value the differences that employees bring to the job?

Flexibility:

Describe a time in your current job when your boss assigned you a rush project even though you had other important priorities at the time. How did you feel, and what was your response?

Initiative:

Tell me about some new ideas and suggestions you have made to your supervisor in your current job. Which were accepted? Why?

Interpersonal Skills:

Tell me about a situation where you had to demonstrate empathy.

Job Motivation:

Give me an example of when you have felt the greatest sense of achievement. What made you feel that way? What makes a job interesting to you? What “turns off” your motivation in a job?

Judgment:

Give me an example of a time when you had to ask your manager for assistance on a project or situation.

Leadership:

Describe a situation in which you had to gain cooperation of others outside of your organization. What were the challenges, and how did you overcome them?

Management Skills:

How do you communicate organizational changes and other relevant information to your staff? How would your staff describe you as a manager? What would they say are your strengths and your opportunities for improvement?

Persuasiveness:

Describe a situation where your enthusiasm convinced a person(s) of your point of view.

Planning and Organizing Skills:

Give me an example of when you had conflicting priorities and how you completed them on time.

Presentation Skills:

Tell me about a time when a presentation did not go well and what you did to “rescue” it.

Teamwork Abilities:

Tell me about a task force or project team that you were a member of and the role you played in that group.

Time Management:

In your present position, what limits your ability to manage your time? How do you work within or around these limitations? 

Digging Below the Surface

Shelter-specific questions can elicit more than the bare facts of a resume. Phrased correctly, they can be the catalyst for a deeper discussion of personal philosophies. Most questions listed below are more appropriate for those with some prior experience in animal care and control.

  • What do you feel is the most important thing the agency can do for animals? For citizens?
  • What do you believe is the role of animal control?
  • Are you an “animal” person or a “people” person?
  • If the kennel space is full and people are calling to relinquish animals, how would you handle it?
  • How do you feel about euthanasia?
  • If a donor complained about being issued a ticket for an animal control violation, how would you handle it?
  • What are some preventive programs that humane agencies can provide?
  • Suppose a relinquisher says his cat isn’t using the litter box. If he wants to adopt another animal, what would your suggestion be?
  • If you are having an outbreak of parvo, what would you do first?
  • How would you promote shelter adoptions to a stranger?
  • Suppose a visitor says, “I’m looking for a purebred collie,” but there are no purebred collies in the kennels. How would you respond?

 

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