How to Prepare for Your House Sitting Interview
I recently wrote an article for Nomador on this very overlooked aspect of of house sitting - the preparation for the actual interview!
Most people focus their time on thinking about how amazing it would be to live in Brittany for 3 months, or to stay in Jerusalem during Passover, and it is. Sometimes there is nothing better than scanning house sitting websites and dreaming about the possibilities.
It's like playing that lottery game where you sit in traffic and imagine what you will do with all that money! It's good to dream like this, but dreaming won't make it happen. You have apply to the house sit and if you are lucky enough to get a call back, you'll have to do well in that interview.
We've been house sitting for 16 months out of our 2+ years of full time travel and have given some thought to what works and what doesn't when it comes to the house sitting interview. I can honestly say that we've gotten every sit we've been lucky enough to interview for. Let's hope this trend continues!
I won't recreate the entire article that I wrote for Nomador. You can read it there if you are so inclined, but I'd like share with you the highlights, along with some other tips not included in the original.
1. Do Your Research.
This is the fun part. This is where it's easy to get carried away with all the things you can do while there, and what you can do before and after your house sit is over. Look how close to Singapore! Maybe we could pop over to Borneo for a trek through the jungle! But don't lose focus here. Lea Try to figure out grocery stores and weather and airports and walkability.
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. Be Yourself.
There is nothing to be gained by trying to adapt your likes and dislikes and personality to match those of the homeowner. Well, that isn't exactly true. You may succeed in getting the sit, but was it actually you who secured that house sit, or somebody you imagined yourself to be? This can be quite dangerous, especially if you don't like dogs and the sit is for a dog. Or it's in the countryside and you don't like being isolated. You could wind up being miserable in the long run, even if you you are in Bali for a month.
3. Ask Questions.
This is essential to the success of your interview. It's the best way to get to know one another. I suggest keeping it conversational, but being prepared with list of questions will help facilitate if the conversation hits a lull. Below you'll find a few sample questions to ask.
4. Anticipate The Homeowners 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.
5. Look Out For 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 what your red flags are. Everyone has their 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 gut during your interview – it will save you a lot of trouble down the road.
6. Speak to Your Experience.
It’s important for a home owner 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 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 able to speak to it in your interview.
While you aren’t going to spend much time with the home owner, it’s important that you are compatible and that you trust one another. If you keep this in mind and prepare yourself and are totally honest, you’ll increase your chances of doing well in the interview and getting that coveted house sit.
House Sitting Interview Questions
It's good to have a running list of questions at the ready that apply to any house sit, and more specific questions tailored to your interview. Here is a short sample to get you started.
1. Have you had house sitters in the past? If so, what has been your experience?
2. How much communication is too much?
3. If there is more than one pet, do they get along?
4. Do the pets have any known health issues?
5. In case of an emergency pet visit, how will the payment be handled? Do you have pet insurance?
6. Do the pets have any quirks? Issues with people/other pets?
7. Are your travel dates set? And what would be the exact dates of my arrival and departure?
8. Are you going to be reachable and what’s your communication preference (email, phone, text, Facebook, etc.)?
9. Do you have a written house sitting guide you can provide? Notes on the house, contact information, the animal’s routine(s), etc.
Nomador is a house sitting website that is based in France and primarily has listings in France or countries considered to be French territories. Which means frequent house sitting opportunities in the Caribbean! They tend to focus more on the cultural aspects of house sitting in foreign countries as a way to get to know new people and places. You should check them out.