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Tips on Interviewing for an Animal Control Officer Position

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In today's business world, interviewing for any job, including a job in animal control, is no easy task because there is a lot of competition in the job market. However, by preparing yourself for possible interview questions and answers you may want to give, you'll have a leg up on your competitors. An animal control officer is someone who is generally on-call to handle various wild and domestic animal situations in a city or county.

Love of Animals

One question you may be asked during an interview for an Animal Control Officer position is "Why are you interested in becoming an animal control officer?" The answer the interviewer is looking for here may be related to your love of animals, since you'll be working with animals quite a bit. Tell the interviewer if you've had pets growing up, if you've had any special relationships with animals in the past and your general love of animals. The interview will want to ensure that you are going to be looking out for the wild and domestic animals' well-being, since your job will be to get them from residential areas and bring them to a safe shelter environment. The interview will need to know that you don't hate animals to believe you will not hurt the animals or violate any animal welfare laws, putting the city or company at risk.

Experience with Animals

Although you may have explained some of your history with animals while explaining why you're interested in the position, another question you may asked is "Do you have any experience handling wild or angry animals?" The job will require you to bring in wild animals that may have wandered into a residential area, so having experience handling wild animals would help you land the job. The job will also require you to handle vicious animals, like fighting dogs, who may have gotten loose, so any experience with that would also be a plus. However, it's understandable that you may haven't run into those situations before. In this case, simply answer with a positive attitude toward the future requirements with something like "While I haven't worked directly with wild or vicious animals in the past, I will take safety and my training seriously to handle the animals with care and keep myself and everyone safe while doing so." Also, reiterate the experience with animals you have had, such as pets and zoo animals. Describe books that you have read or documentaries you've watched having to do with wild or unruly animals. Reading up on behaviors of animals that you may encounter will show that you care more about this job than others might.

Related Experience

Even if you have experience handling wild animals and having pets, the interviewer for an animal control officer position may also want to know what type of other related experience you have. Often, animal control officers are put into situations where there are sick or injured animals that need help. Having veterinary experience would help tremendously in those situations. However, if you don't have veterinary experience, you may simply tell of a time that your pet was injured and you took care of it until you could get to a certified vet. If you've had to give any animals medication in the past, even just crushing pills up into their food, you may want to tell the interviewer about it so that they'll know you at least have some experience handling sick or injured animals.

High-Pressure Reactions

Because an animal control officer might be put into high-pressure situations, such as being face-to-face with a mountain lion or alligator, the interviewer will probably ask you open-ended questions and expect you to keep your nerves under control. Questions like "What would you do if a dog bit you?" or "What would you do if there was a coyote with someone's cat in its mouth right in front of you?" are questions that require you to think on the spot. Stay calm, don't fidget and try not to show the interviewer how nervous you are because the interview might think that you will not be able to control your nerves should a high-pressure situation on the job arise.

Sensitive Matters

While the job responsibilities of an animal control officer may not include it directly, euthanasia might be a part of the shelter's day-to-day operations. An interviewer may simply ask "What are your thoughts on euthanasia?" to get a direct response. In this case, the best answer to get the job is going to be, "I think that it's unfortunate there are not enough people out there adopting animals and that euthanasia is a sad, but necessary, thing we have to do for population control and to keep the shelters from becoming over-crowded." However, if you truly feel against euthanasia and still want the job, try: "I'm really against euthanasia and am willing to spend extra time trying to get animals adopted quicker." You may not get the job, but at least you've shown initiative and didn't lie about your true feelings.


Laila Alvarez has been writing professionally since 2002. She has written for Houston Community Newspapers and "L.A. Zoo View," "North O.C. Magazine," "Perpetual Phlegm" and other magazines, newspapers and websites. Alvarez has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from California State University-Fullerton.

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