Screening Potential Sitter

Had numerous applicants but went with a young lady that had over 10 good reviews. I asked her to call me and provided my number and she said she would call but didn’t. I reminded her after couple days and she called from a blocked number. She asked during call if I had cameras in my home and advised her it’s against THS policy however I had cameras outside the home. Is that weird to ask? She did give me her number after the call and said she prefers using whatsapp. Also is it common to not meet the sitters or speak with them prior to sitting?

What’s app is normal for comms, you can use the WA video function with her. It’s fair for her to ask about cameras and good of you to explain where yours are externally. Maybe she had a bad experience on a sit and is hesitant? What have you agreed as next steps? Only accept her if you feel comfortable that you’re a match, that’s the important bit. #trustyourgut

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Regarding the cameras it’s not weird to ask at all and the outside cameras should be disclosed on your listing anyway. In some situations sitters see cameras as invasive as they can point to outside areas where the sitter may be relaxing and or used to “keep tabs” on the sitter which, to me, seems to be at odds with the “trusted” in TrustedHousesitters.

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@Cdmuz Regarding if it’s common not meeting or speaking prior - It’s not very common to not at least have a video call. We always video call / meet the HO prior to the sit (on the handover day or night before). If we happened to be in the area a few weeks before we’ve also met up in person but that’s not always possible. Good communication is essential for a successful sit so better to build a good rapport beforehand and establish expectations.

@Cdmuz It’s good that you have now had a conversation with this applicant, if you don’t think it’s a good match you can decline her application and have a call with one of the other applicants .

We are experienced sitters and before we agree to a sit we have a video call we ask about internal cameras and about other things too like the arrangements for paying for any emergency vet treatment . So that part isn’t strange or unusual to us .

Most sitters are looking for a travel experience away from their local area .
So it would be difficult to arrange to meet up with them prior to the sit . Many hosts arrange to meet the sitter to have a handover at the start of the sit but if this isn’t possible ( if you have an early departure) - you can do a video tour handover .

If you do want to meet the sitter first before deciding you will need to choose a sitter who is local to you - this likely will be a new sitter without any reviews yet . We started with local sits to build our reviews but we already had experience of house sitting .

Or maybe a local paid sitter ( not THS ) would suit you best .

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It sounds like she might have had a bad experience. Asking about cameras is normal – especially as you are new. Some sitters are reluctant to sit for “new” hosting members. Like new sitters, they don’t have site experience or reviews. But she did apply, so she’s probably interested. As others have noted, video chatting – often through WhatsApp is common, and you can have a good conversation. It is also common to chat with more than one person before you make a decision, and it’s common for sitters to be applying to more than one sit at a time.

I don’t usually ask for a “call.” I have some back and forth through the email if there are questions, and then try to arrange a video call on WhatsApp or something else if the person seems like a good fit.

10 previous 5-star reviews is a good track record, but a certain number of reviews doesn’t make one person more qualified or a better sitter than another. Read profiles, look at the photoes, read previous reviews, read the reviews the sitter wrote, ask open-ended questions including “What if” scenarios on an interview. Then use your best judgement. You don’t have to “go with” just one person. And if you feel that the sitter is overly-suspicious of you, or get any other bad “vibe” you don’t have to accept that person. You can arrange video chats with more than one sitter and then decide. Just be aware that the situation is fluid for both parties until both people confirm the sit, so a sitter could say no.

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Hi Marion thanks for the advice. When I message through the app, I feel ghosted. We finally spoke this morning and I asked her to send me her # and I texted her to confirm I had the right number and no response. I messaged throughout whatsapp and no response. My concern is if communication is this difficult upfront then what is it going to look like the week we are gone. I’m not a needy person but communication is essential upfront. Whats a good amount of time to expect a response when you text or message?

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@Cdmuz Your concern is definitely legitimate. As I said good communication is essential for a successful sit, you will want regular updates when you are away and ghosting you is really unacceptable. We are very punctual with our communication, always quickly responding to a message, certainly within the hour. You say you had several applicants and went with this one. You are very much free to pass on this one.

@Cdmuz Everyone’s advice here is valid. My 2 cents: if you are already feeling the communication isn’t great, I think it’s best to choose another sitter now, not later. You should feel good about your choice of sitter, you shouldn’t be left wondering why she’s not responding, or to be worried that you come across as needy. With all our sits, owners and sitters usually respond quickly and then the matter is resolved. It’s not nice to sit around and wonder…Of course, everyone will say you need to be reasonable, she might be busy, or travelling or whatever. But I just think - if it already feels shaky, why go down that road?

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All great suggestions here. If I may add mine, I would start asking another candidate if they want to have a call (or video call). I wouldn’t wait much longer since most applicants apply to more than one sit at a time and might have already accepted another.
Whatever you do, please don’t forget to acknowledge the other applicants, even if it’s just to say “thank you, however I’ve chosen someone else”.

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The only odd thing is that she didn’t call you and as her communication is leaving you feeling a little unsure, always trust your intuition. But perhaps she works remotely, so looks at her messages on an evening instead, or perhaps she is in a different country. If I haven’t heard my phone ping, I only check for whatsapp messages every 4-5 hours or so.

Whatsapp is totally normal, we use it all of the time to send photo’s to pet owners, video chat beforehand if needed, and message owners while they are away. Personally I feel it is the best/easiest way to communicate for most things.

It’s not un-natural for her to ask about cameras because she may have already done a sit where there were cameras inside. But if it’s external cameras she was asking about then maybe she is a lazy dog walker and doesn’t want to be tracked for that reason, depending on what pets you have, and whether her question was linked to interior or exterior cameras.

Meeting sitters beforehand is NOT the normal with THS, we only meet beforehand if we are going to be very close by, and only if it is for dogs, as cats can be aloof so may or may not choose to be around when we visit. However, video chatting is the normal, we probably video chat with around 40% of home owners, the others simply accept us based on our profile, and their profile must have been thorough enough for us to accept without us requesting to video. We probably telephone chat with only about 5% of pet owners, maybe not even that, it’s video chat if anything.

But more importantly, trust your instinct. Hope that helps.

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Do you have other potential sitters? Because this person seems like a hassle. I had one sitter whose communication was like this, and while nothing terrible happened, I would not want them back and would not recommend them.

Keep in mind, reviews prior to the blind system may or may not be 100% truthful (this goes for both sitters and HOs). I’d give more weight to your gut feeling than their reviews.

ETA: agree that the camera question is not strange

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Most Sitters appreciate rapid responses from Owners when they apply for a Sit, so the fact that she is not responding quickly is a red flag. I would move on. Find a Sitter who responds within a reasonable amount of time (24 hours at the most) and does not seem afraid to talk on the phone or do a video chat.

Some Sitters provide their email address and phone number in their application, so that you immediately have many ways to communicate.

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Not really (but it may be that she is considering another listing).

It is uncommon that an HO is not familiar with Whatsapp. And when an HO wants to meet in person, then it is the HO who is a hassle.

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Agreeing with @botvot and @avocadotoast .

In my experience when someone applies, but doesn’t respond within in a day or so, or seems “too busy” to meet for a video chat, than usually they don’t wind up taking the sit. If I wait around for that person because superficially that person has more great reviews or whatever, I could wind up losing out on other sitters.

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Thank you all for your valued input. I think im going to go with my gut and disengage because I texted the number she provided after our 6am phone call and its already 8 hours with no response.

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@Cdmuz it is not uncommon for sitters to ask if there are cameras in the home. As a sitter that travels fulltime - often traveling from one country to the next for sits - I don’t provide in person meetings prior to confirming a sit. I will however arrive a day or two before the confirmed sit is scheduled to start. During this time I’ll meet my pet parents in person for the handover - obtain keys, meet the pets, get a lay of the land etc. I only use WhatsApp for initial video chat and to communicate throughout the sit.

Seems wise.