Congratulations on securing your house sitting interview! After sifting through dozens of potential sits and applying to them all, you got a coveted call back. While this is a feat worth celebrating, put your suitcase away for a moment because you haven't gotten the gig just yet -- you still have that interview to get through!
A wise friend and mentor once calmed me before a job interview by telling me that you are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you. This is especially true of house sitting. This advice has served us well in securing 16 months of house sits in 7 countries around the world.
There is more to preparing for your house sitting interview than just calming your nerves, and it is important to be prepared:
1 - Do your research
Before you get on the call, you should know some basic things about the house sit you are interviewing for. A lot of these details will hopefully come from the listing itself, but you should familiarize yourself with the type of pet, the living situation and with a general knowledge of the country/city before interviewing. This shows the homeowner that you are interested, informed and committed!
2 - Make a list of questions
A Google search of the area will uncover a load of questions. I recently saw a Nomador listing to pet sit a very large wild boar on a remote island in Belize. The remoteness of this locale brings up important questions about supplies, weather, and communication, along with some not-so-obvious questions, like how did the boar get to this island?! But it’s super important to ask about the pets themselves – they are, after all, the main reason you are going.
3 - Anticipate their questions
One of the questions we get asked most frequently is why we house sit. It’s important to be honest here. If you tell them that you are interested in house sitting so you can travel the world for free, forget it. That’s the last thing they want to hear. There are many reasons we house sit, but mainly it’s so we can love and care for a furry pet without settling down. It is also a perfect way to learn about a different culture in a way that normal travel doesn’t permit. If you put yourself in the homeowner’s shoes, you should be able to anticipate the questions they will ask during your interview.
4 - Know your red flags
It’s difficult to know in advance what will trigger a gut feeling that something isn’t quite right, but give some thought to your warning indicators. Everyone has a non-negotiable sticking point. For us it’s super important that the person is clean and tidy, as we are clean and tidy. We also insist that a car is available for us to use, especially in remote areas where access to a vet would be difficult on public transport. Know and listen to your red flags during your interview – it could save you a lot of trouble down the road.
5 - Speak to your experience
It is important for a homeowner to know that you have some experience house sitting. This can be tricky, especially if this is your first experience. It’s important to think about instances in your past that can translate to house sitting: maybe you have your own pets or have watched a dog for a traveling friend. Or maybe you lived in an old house and know how temperamental they can be. Whatever it is, be sure to reference it during your interview.
House Sitting Interview Questions
It’s good to have a running list of questions on-hand that apply to any house sit, followed by more specific questions tailored to your particular interview. Here is a short sample to get you started:
- Have you had house sitters in the past? If so, what has been your experience?
- How much communication is too much?
- If there is more than one pet, do they get along?
- Do the pets have any known health issues?
- In case of an emergency pet visit, how will the payment be handled? Do you have pet insurance?
- Do the pets have any quirks? Issues with people/other pets?
- Are your travel dates set? And what would be the exact dates of my arrival and departure?
- Are you going to be reachable and what’s your communication preference (email, phone, text, Facebook, etc.)?
- Do you have a written house sitting guide you can provide? Notes on the house, contact information, the animal’s routine(s), etc.
While you aren’t going to spend much time with the homeowner, it is important that you are compatible and that you trust one another. If you keep this in mind, prepare yourself, and stay honest, you will increase your chances of impressing the homeowner during the interview and -- best of all -- landing that coveted house sit.
Zac Stafford is one half of the travel site visa-vis.com, where he and his wife write about the highs and lows of full time travel and house sitting. They sold nearly everything in 2015 and have been traveling the world ever since. You can follow Zac on Instagram if you want to see life through the eyes of a modern nomad.