It’s really a dog’s life to live in kennel. Locked in a cage for most of the day, often vainly waiting for someone to pet them, take them for a walk, or eventually take them home (or adopt them), one can hear a trace of sadness in the bark of these brutes. A sensitive kennel assistant can make their life at least slightly better. Cleaning cages, feeding and grooming the dogs, and most importantly trying to make sure that people interested in adoption find the right match in one of the cages, this job can be fulfilling for a true dog lover.
Interviewing for this position, you will have to show right attitude to working with dogs, readiness to take care of all common duties kennel attendants typically take care of, and willingness to work also on weekends and holidays (not all weekends), since dogs have to be fed also on Sundays… Let’s have a look at the questions you may face in your interview.
Why do you want to work as a kennel attendant?
Kennel attendant isn’t the best paid job in the world, and it isn’t easy either. But once you love to work outdoors and be around dogs, it is definitely a much better choice than flipping burgers at McDonald’s, or sitting at a cash counter at Walmart.
And that’s exactly what you should focus on in your answer. You like working with animals, perhaps you even want to study at vet school in the future, and this is a great experience to get–it will help you with your application.
You are aware of the duties kennel assistants typically take care of, and feel ready to handle them, including the customer service part of the job (answering phone calls, schedule animal drop-off an pick-up appointments, etc).
How do you imagine a typical day in this job?
Two things matter at this point: You should show realistic expectations, and you should ensure them that you like to have some system in your work.
For example, you arrive at 7 in the morning, and quickly check if all dogs are in their cages and well. If they are, you start with regular procedures, feeding them and giving them water. If any dog has a special diet (for example due to some medical condition), you will follow the protocols and give it what it needs.
Then you will clean the cages, scoop the poop, and ensure that each dog has what it needs in the isolation. What happens next really depends on the organization of the place, number of dogs, and number of attendants. You may let the dogs out in a playing area, volunteers may come to take them for walks, or you will take some of them for a walk–it really depends on the circumstances and the routines they have in place, as well as the size of the place.
It is good to mention also customer service duties. You may be responsible for answering phone calls, filling some basic forms and making basic reports, and organizing animal transfers. Try to speak with enthusiasm when describing your idea of a typical day. They should get a feeling that you really want the job, and do not apply only because you cannot find anything better at the moment.
Tell us more about your working experience with dogs
You do not necessarily need an experience from an animal shelter to succeed in this interview. But you need some experience with dogs. Maybe you worked as a dog walker before, or took care of some dogs back home.
It is important to mention a variety of duties, and ensure the interviewer that you have experience with the more tricky duties as well, such as lifting heavy breeds, or calming dogs in distress. This job can be physically demanding, and you should show your confidence to handle it.
Some places may hire people who lack experience, especially if they struggle with staff. In such a case you can say that you hope your motivation and willingness to learn and work hard will make up for your lack of experience in the beginning.
What is your availability? How do you feel about working on Sunday (some other day)?
They should get an impression that this job (even if part time) is high on your list of priorities. Ensure them that you are available on most days, and understand that dogs know no weekends, and they require our care and assistance also on Sundays.
For sure you won’t work every single weekend–and nobody expects you to do so, unless you apply for a particular part time opportunity, and you are supposed to work only on weekends. But you are ready to work two Sundays each month, sharing the shifts evenly with your colleagues–at least you should say so if you want to get the job.
If you are still a student, I recommend you to prepare an exact schedule for the week. Show them clearly when you can work and when you cannot, since you have your classes and other commitments of a student. Interviewers like to see that you prepared something in advance, and will always appreciate an extra effort.
How will you make sure that clients are satisfied with your service for their dogs?
We have different types of kennels, and some function as for-profit organizations. In such places customer service is extremely important, and some owners expect you to pamper their dogs while they are away (and they are willing to pay big money for such a service).
Ensure the hiring manager that you will try your best to understand clearly the expectations of the customer, and to learn from them as much as you can about their dog–any medical issues or problems they face, feeding preferences, their standard behavior, etc.
Once you know what their dog needs and likes, it is much easier to deliver a great service, something they will be satisfied with. Communication plays an important role as well, and you can say that you try your best to be courteous with each customer.
How would you calm a dog in distress?
You have two options for a good answer here. First one is naming a few remedies that typically work, in your experience. Giving them their favorite toy, playing with them a little, taking their mind off whatever made them anxious.
What’s amazing about dogs is their ability to live in the present moment. Replacing a negative stimuli with a positive one, they can forget the former immediately, and enjoy the activity they like–be it a play, a caress, or a tasty biscuit for dogs you give them.
Another good option is emphasizing individual approach to each animal. Say that you will make it your first priority to gather enough information about the dog–either from their owner, or from your colleagues who’ve worked with it before, or even from your own experience. Knowing a lot about each dog, you will always be able to pick the most fitting way of calming them down.
Other questions you may face in your kennel attendant job interview
- Imagine that one of the owners calls you, being extremely worried about their pet. What will you say to them?
- In your opinion, what safety measures should we stick to at this place?
- This job can be physically demanding. How do you feel about lifting a dog weighting 60 pounds? What do you do to stay in a good shape?
- What are your salary expectations?
- Imagine that you arrive to work in the morning, and see two cages with broken locks and the dogs are missing. Describe the steps you will take.
- What motivates you the most in this type of work?
- Describe the role dogs play in your life.
- Do you have any questions or concerns when it comes to this role?
Final thoughts, next steps
Interview for a job of a kennel attendant belong to interviews with average difficulty. Questions are similar in every place, and you can prepare for them in advance, for example with the help of our article. Try to prepare a short answer to each question, following our hints.
On the other hand, many people like dogs, and many people consider a career of a vet (or of a vet technician). Because of that, these interviews can sometimes become extremely competitive, with up to 10 candidates trying to get a single vacancy.
In such a case it may be hard to succeed, unless you have previous experience with similar work, or can really stand out with your interview answers, and with your overall presence on the big day.
I hope you will manage to figure this out, and wish you best of luck in your kennel attendant interview!
May also interest you:
- Zookeeper interview questions.
- Dog walker interview questions – A different role, but you can still learn something from a typical interview process here.
- Animal shelter interview questions.