Interviews: Owners, what do you ask prospective Sitters?

I have just started with THS as an Owner and am very happy with the response for the sits I have posted so far.

I have a question for Owners who interview all applicants prior to confirming a Sitter.

What do you ask? And what are you looking for from a Sitter? What comments/questions to/from Sitters resonate with you or raise red flags?

Here is my perspective but would love to hear others:

I usually start the interview with describing a typical day, and let the Sitter pepper me with any questions as we go.

I am looking for a genuine love and responsibility towards pets. So any Sitter who asks zero questions about the pets and only asks about what they can/can’t do is a red flag for me. I don’t mind those questions at all and understand Sitters will want to do things in the area but I do mind ONLY those questions.

I also look for applicants who have read and understand the requirements for the pets, and can confirm they can meet the exercise requirements for my dog.

Applicants who surprise me in the interview with can I bring (insert relative or friend here) are somewhat of a red flag (pink flag?). Not a deal breaker but I would like to know who, how many, and how long they plan to stay. If they can’t answer that then I can’t confirm their application.

Applicants who ghost the interview altogether are declined with a note to re-apply if they still have an interest (but there would need to be a very good reason for missing the first interview).

Questions that resonate well are those where Sitters ask about the pets. One sitter very intuitively asked if our cats get along with our dog (they don’t but each has forged out there own territory LOL).

What does everyone else look for in the interview?

A heads up: you are going to get a ton of flak for using the word “interview”.

I start by asking why the sitter applied for my specific sit. I like to ask what a successful sit looks like for them.

Any applicant who ghosts an interview gets an automatic decline. No invitation to reapply - life it too short for that.

10 Likes

Hello @Felinelover

Allow me to begin by commenting that I do hope your listing explains

[quote=“Felinelover, post:1, topic:48671”]
One sitter very intuitively asked if our cats get along with our dog (they don’t but each has forged out there own territory LOL)
[/quote] for prospective thsitters, so they know to inquire further, or not apply if they are not up for the behavioral task…

I have the same questions that I use for each inital engagement.

But first I ask the thsitters to please begin with their must have/ have nots and deal breakers.

Of course natural chat occurs along the way as well.

My questions:
Non smoker
No children/ pets
No visitors
Review of dates / how are you traveling here
How did you hear / come to join THS, if less than 5 THS Reviews
Vehicle use discussion, if applicable
Here is an overview of my cat’s particular demeanor/ thoughts?
I want you to contact me with any questions or concerns…and I will contact you with questions or concerns.
Send updates.
External cameras chat. Also in listing.
Do you commit to completing a review.
Do you read the forums ?

Now… if the chat has an organic flowing nature and I feel a good vibe, I may not get to all of these distinctly… but pretty darn close.

(I know this is a forum… but my post here is not looking for challenges… opinions or suggestions for my process…
I am offering a reply to the OP generically. Than you.)

4 Likes

I’m usually a more free-flowing conversation type but I do try to ask:

  • why are you interested in this sit? If they don’t mention my pets then that would be a red flag.
  • what is the main purpose of you visit to our town? I know it’s not fair, but if they work from home, that is a bonus, because I assume they will be spending more time in the house. If they are using my house as a base for them to work outside the home (i.e. travelling everyday to a job) then that would be a red flag
  • what there needs are with respect to a car (we offer ours) and bedrooms (I made an incorrect assumption once that a couple would use the same bedroom, which led to a rushed making up of another bedroom when they arrived; so now I check)
  • their experience / comfort levels with large dogs
  • making sure they are comfortable in a rural setting (there’s no uber eats, etc.)
  • how are you planning on getting here (we always offer pick up from airport or train station)?
  • confirming that they are happy to commit to being here every night and not being out for more than about 6 - 8 hours in a day
  • confirming that they are happy / able to walk our dog for at least an hour every day
  • confirming they are comfortable with chickens
  • exactly who is coming to the sit
  • if they have thought about what they would do if something unexpected happened (e.g they got sick, had a death in the family). If they something like “well, I suppose we would just let you know and leave” that would be a red flag (especially if we were planning to go overseas). I don’t expect every sitter to have a back up plan, but I want to feel sure that we would have time to find a solution.
  • if it is a video call I offer to “show” them around the house.

I use the Skpye / Facetime / telephone call really to get a feeling for the sitter and hopefully to give them a feeling for us.

5 Likes

Some other questions to ask are:

  1. the sitter experience caring for xyz breed of dog / cat some breeds require more attention and care than others. Also make sure they have experience caring for the type of pets you have. For example I specialize in cat sitting only (listed in my profile and reviews) it would be questionable if I applied for a dog sit considering I have no experience dog sitting.

  2. Sitter experience administering medication be it in the form of a pill, ointment, injection etc (if applicable). I am pet CPR + first aid certified and have this stated in my profile and I include it in my application.

  3. Do the sitter have the appropriate visa to sit in said location on xyz date. For example, Americans are allowed a total of 90 days per 6 months to travel within the Schengen. Visas for China and India can be a bit complicated and time consuming to obtain. This question is very important because it can make a difference on whether or not your sitter will be able to arrive on time for the sit.

1 Like

Why would I get flack for the word interview? Not arguing, I guess just ignorant?

2 Likes

It’s not a paid job @Felinelover - the two parties are making an exchange of free pet care for free accomm and the video call is a chat for you to see if you both like each other, have a connection and that the sit is a good fit all round. Sitters aren’t waiting for you to select them, it’s an equal arrangement. Hence the heads up for potential flak. #justsemantics

9 Likes

We’re sitters. Don’t see it as an interview, most would retract their applications if you did, as they are ‘interviewing’ you as much as you are them. See it more as a friendly chat with someone you have a load in common with (both the love of animals and they loved your home or your location).

Only video/chat with THE most suitable sitter/s, the one you feel you would trust most with your fur baby and home. Otherwise you’ll be wasting your own time and sitters will definitely feel you didn’t think they in particular weren’t the most suitable, and then after videoing/chatting with the best one if they aren’t suitable then simply video/chat with another.

Right at the start, I would be asking things like why they chose to sit, the best way to word it is ‘how did you get into sitting?’ and the sitter will naturally come alive and talk about themselves and animals, and that way you’ll get to see what you really want to see. Did they chat about animals, or purely travel alone?

You’ll instinctively know which one sounds best by their profile, so go with your gut. We’ve got plenty of reviews, but it’s not about that, it’s about a feeling that you know-know them already.

4 Likes

Totally understandable, because at the moment you are seeing the sitters as strangers. But after you’ve chatted with sitters, you will see them more like you do your nice neighbours, rather than strangers, it’s weird but believe me it happens.

But most importantly, it’s not an interview because you aren’t paying your sitters. If you were paying then that’s an interview and a different site.

Sitters are volunteering to look after your pets and home for completely free, because they love animals, and love travel, they are doing it out of kindness and out of a love of pets. If they wanted to travel for free they would be on a couch surf website or something like that.

Take us for example, we sit as a couple, and we really miss having our own pets. So we get a fresh change of scenery with some furry snuggles, it’s an amazing feeling to help someone out, but it’s also an amazing feeling that someone was kind enough to trust us with their pets for a while. If you use the word ‘interview’ it takes that away that feel-good feeling, it makes it feel very one-sided.

So swap your mind to realise that you’re not giving people a free holiday (because our time is not our own, we are tied… with dogs especially), but actually you are doing a really beautiful thing for those that miss pets, or those that can’t have their own pet because of where they live, or those that never had pets growing up, there are loads of reasons why people are pet sitting.

The brilliant thing about this site is that it’s a feelgood sight, it’s simply nice people doing nice things for each other, so it’s a win-win.

Imagine being able to help someone that misses having their own pets? Let that feeling fill your heart, that’s the difference you are making to someone on this site. Then imagine a sitter giving their time and love for completely free, simply because they can.

That’s why it’s not an ‘interview’ :heart_eyes:

9 Likes

The primary question in the chat should be if you had a backup plan. As a sitter, I could not fix that for you.

10 Likes

I agree with all your very good points.

At the beginning of a videocall, I first do a small round of introduction, which means we both introduces ourselve, and maybe there are common points. Sometimes it’s quite interesting.

Afterwards I usually ask why someone applied to my listing. What are you interested in? What particularly appealed to you? This way I also can see if someone has read my listing well enough.

I always ask, what are your experiences with this kind of pets? Have you had this pet yourself, when and for how long?

Finally, I always ask, where do you see certain challenges for yourself, where could things possibly become difficult? I also ask, what questions do you have? If someone doesn’t have any questions at all, it’s always a bit strange to me.

What I really don’t like is when we’ve talked for 50 minutes and at the end of the conversation the sitter says: I’d like to take a friend with me. Is this ok?
I think THS should have a guests and no guests section. Then you could tick whether guests are allowed or not. It’s no use if you include it in your listing because sitters often don’t read the text carefully or they hope that you’ll make an exception anyway.

1 Like

:100: @pietkuip - it’s the HO that needs to have a back up plan for emergencies in place @JennyH - your pets, your home and your local neighbourhood after all. It’s not for an unpaid sitter to cover this potential issue. Needs discussing in the video call for sure @Felinelover

9 Likes

I particularly like the home hosts that ask us if we prefer red or white :wink:

25 Likes

Exactly @Catme! We’ve had a close family bereavement happen in the UK whilst sitting in Sri Lanka (& we live in Turkey) and that HO lived in Abu Dhabi. Now that was a logistical challenge and who knows how we’d all have managed if it hadn’t been discussed beforehand! #allintheplanning

1 Like

Most of this depends on the emergency. What if the sitter is delayed by strike or a snowstorm? Or when the sitter is taken to hospital?

THS cannot send a replacement. If you want that, the HO should be using a company with paid employees.

If the HO uses THS, they need a plan B which probably involves their local network.

4 Likes

:wine_glass::wine_glass::wine_glass: every time @Colin

2 Likes

What you list as questions aren’t actually questions. It’s your list of your do’s and don’ts and discussion topics you want to cover.

1 Like

@Felinelover 100% agree with @Cuttlefish comments. The S/G is getting on the call sussing out who you are as well. Are you approaching this as an employer/employee relationship or as equals? Are you going to be too demanding? Are you not being upfront about your pets behavior? Is what you are saying different than the listing; often the listing is super casual but the convo proves different.

However, I don’t think the term interview is just semantics, I think it really shows if the HO understands it’s an exchange. The definition of interview: “An interview is a structured conversation where one participant asks questions, and the other provides answers. In common parlance, the word “interview” refers to a one-on-one conversation between an interviewer and an interviewee.” If you approach the conversation as an interview, it’s a red flag for the experienced S/G.

5 Likes

To me it’s not an interview but just going through the application process. I had a call for a potential sit and the pet parent assumed that all questions would be directed at me. I quickly explained that even if he wanted to confirm me, I would need my questions answered to see if I wanted to accept the confirmation. I don’t think it occured to him that a sitter would pass after the call. Pet parents need to understand that sitters are not desperate for their sit. Well maybe unless it’s in Hawaii :grin:

4 Likes

Yes I would certainly swerve if I was invited for an “interview”. Sets totally the wrong dynamic in my opinion and I agree it isn’t just semantics - language matters.

3 Likes