How to Prepare for Your House/Pet Sit Interview + Questions

Couple doing an interview: house/pet sit interview

You scored! You landed a house/pet sit interview. During your happy dance, you realize you have an interview coming up. It’s now time to get prepared.

One of the best ways to prepare for a house/pet sit interview is to make a list of questions. This list not only keeps us focused but acts as talking points for breaking the ice with a homeowner. We get to look cool, professional and put together because we are prepared. We also don’t forget to ask important questions.

So what do you need to ask?

Anything and everything that is important to you.

Get the details of what the homeowner expects. Do they need you to pick up the mail, water plants, care for pets, mow the lawn or meet repairmen? Find out if the sit meets all your basic needs and requirements. Does it have high-speed internet, a washing machine, a decent bed or it’s proximity to grocery stores?

Consider this house/pet sit interview your life line. Because if you don’t get the good, bad and ugly, you may end up agreeing to something that you wish you hadn’t. And backing out of a sit is a huge no-no once agreed too.

There are only three situations that we recommend that you back out of a sit:

  1. Your health or life is in danger.
  2. You have a serious family emergency.
  3. The homeowner flat out lied to you about the situation.

Otherwise, if you didn’t do your due diligence and get enough information, suck it up and complete the commitment. Walking away in the middle of a sit kills both your reputation and trustworthiness factor.

The Interview

We HIGHLY recommend that you schedule a live interview. Skype, Facetime or any live video feed is good. Or even meeting in person, if possible. This gives you the opportunity to interact with the homeowner and pets in a live situation. Use your list as a guide during the conversation, but allow the conversation to flow naturally.

Ask for a virtual tour of the home while you’re talking. And see the pets. Photos can be staged. Doing a live interview gives you a chance to examine the details of the home and pets in real time.

The majority of homeowners are as honest as possible because they want the sit to work for you both. If you’re happy, they’re happy. Sometimes what others think of as normal, such as levels of cleanliness or clutter, may not be normal or okay for you. Having a live interview can help take the guess work out of these situations.

Honesty from you is important as well. Don’t be afraid to speak up. If you see something that doesn’t work for you, let the homeowner know.

Pay attention to your gut during and after the interview. Listening to our gut has kept us out of trouble more times than not. Not every sit is the right fit. If your instincts are screaming “NO” you probably should skip the sit and move on.

The List

In reality, we use two lists. The first is a basic list of questions that we ask everyone. The second we base entirely on the sit we are interviewing for. We request photos of the home and pets ahead of time. Using these photos and already provided details, we are able to formulate this second list of questions.

While our list may look unorganized, there is a method to our madness. When you’re sitting pets, it’s good to bring the focus back to the pets several times throughout the interview. As a result, we intersperse the pet questions through the whole list. It shows the homeowner that you care about their pet’s well-being, not just your own.

We’ve determined our house/pet sit interview questions through experience as important to us. We work online, so having good internet is very important. After sleeping on a futon for three months, we decided having a decent bed is VERY important. Make up your list with questions that are important to you.

I’ve included our basic list of house/pet sit interview questions. You are welcome to use it and adapt it for your own use. If any of the questions seem strange, feel free to ask us for an explanation. We love talking about house/pet sitting. You can also check out one of our favorite house sitting books from our friends Nat and Jodie.

House/Pet Sit Interview Preliminary Questions List

  1. Have you used house sitters before?
  2. Please tell us about your pets. Names, ages, daily routines such as feeding, walking, etc.?
  3. How long can your pets be left alone?
  4. Do your pets have any health issues or require any special care?
  5. Do your pets have any issues with other animals/people?
  6. Where do your pets sleep?
  7. Are your travel dates set?
  8. What do you do professionally and currently?
  9. How long before the sit should we arrive? Would you like us to arrive early before you leave so we can go through all your instructions and meet you and your pets before you leave?
  10. Are you considering other sitters for these dates?
  11. What is the quality and reliability of your Internet/Wi-Fi? Is the internet fast enough to upload photos? Does the internet go out often?
  12. What amenities are available? Washer, dryer, dishwasher, equipped kitchen, Netflix, etc?
  13. What type and size of the bed will we be sleeping on? Is it a real mattress?
  14. Will you please either show us or send us a photo of the inside of your fridge?
  15. Do you have security cameras inside the home? If so, where are they and what do they record?
  16. Can public transportation get me everywhere or will I need a car?
  17. Can we use your car, if needed?
  18. What specific duties do you require for maintaining your home/gardens?
  19. Do you or anyone in your household smoke?
  20. How noisy is the neighborhood?
  21. Is there any type construction going on in your home, the building you live in or in the vicinity of your building?
  22. Are there any house issues or quirks that we should know about, such as leaking showers, toilet handles that need jiggling, alarms, etc.?
  23. Do you mind if we invite friends or family into the home for dinner or to spend the night?
  24. Is there anything we need to bring or if there are different weather conditions, do we have use of coats or wellington boots, etc., if needed?
  25. Are there any allergy issues for anyone in the home that we need to be aware of?
  26. If you cancel the sit after we have purchased travel tickets or arrived, are you willing to cover our travel expenses or help us to find accommodation until we can find something else?
  27. Are you willing leave emergency cash or prepaid card in the event pet food runs out or there’s an emergency? Would you also setup an account or leave a credit card on file with your vet to cover any possible vet expenses?
  28. When will we be reimbursed for any expenditures we made on your behalf?
  29. Do any of your pets have special likes or dislikes that we should be aware of?
  30. Are there any other details about your pets/home/garden or whatever that you would like us to know about?

Comments

  1. Vanessa Anderson August 28, 2017 at 2:49 pm

    Great article and I particularly like the question about use of coats and wellington boots! These are bulky items to travel with but very necessary if you want to ever leave the house in countries like the UK! Noisy neighborhoods are also worth checking, especially in Central American countries 🙂 – another great question. We also ask if dogs can be walked on or off leash, and if it’s possible to walk from the house as part of their daily routine. We just secured a sit where the owner said, “actually their favorite walk is a drive away”. On thinking about this, they immediately offered to put us on their insurance so we don’t have to use our hire car to transport the pups.

    • heidi@thecookingwriter.com August 28, 2017 at 4:03 pm

      Thanks, Vanessa. And of course, you have more excellent questions. It’s funny, we ask those same ones but don’t have them on the list because they kind of organically come up based on other questions 🙂 The main thing is to make sure you get as much information as possible, so no surprises.

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