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  #1  
Old 01-25-2006
epona4 epona4 is offline
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Default Interview Advice and "intro"

I have put in my application for an opening at our shelter. I was wondering if any of you would have advice for me to improve my odds for getting the job. (also, silly as it sounds, what should I wear?? The thought of wearing "business wear" just seems silly...but I do want to make the best possible impression)

A bit of background on me. (warning: long. Feel free to skip and just give some advice!)

I spent time volunteering at a "no kill shelter". (of course I don't think I want to call it that. Just a shelter. I know in some places there is a bit of tension between the two.) Helping with the cleaning, the walking and the intake. (One of my most proud moments...a stray German Shephard came in. Scared of everyone. I spent a couple hours with him that night, just sitting in front of his kennel talking to him, getting down to his level...while he sat curled up in the back corner. I came back the next day and started working with him some more. He did come around to me. After a while there were two of us who he was not afraid of...after a few weeks...he was adopted. I realize things like this are very time consuming and not likely to happen as an ACO...there's just too much else to do. But I'm 35 years old, a mother of 4 and THAT is one of my proudest moments.)

I also have an Equine Investigation Certification. Volunteer for a horse rescue. Have been on some calls that have not been pleasant. (nothing compared to what I know I would experince as an ACO) I've seen horses who were in such bad shape that they had to be put down.

I know animals have to be euthanized. I would rather see it be done humanely, than the poor things die from starvation, hit by a car or any of the other awful ways they can die. I also know they have to be put down when they bite. I understand they can't all be saved. (I know this is a big deal. As heartbreaking as it will be, I don't have a problem with doing this part of it.)

I HAVE common sense. (I just spent the last couple hours browsing pasts posts to see what I could gleen from them) I know how to look up Indiana laws. I know how to do research. (heck, I have most of the animal laws printed out and in a file. I just don't have them all memorized)

My big concern, I do not have any of the certs. Other than my volunteer work, I have no "job experince" that would help here.

I want this job so badly I can taste it. I KNOW I would be good at this. No, I'm not crazy about people...but I am GOOD with them. (My MIL, a retired lawyer, keeps saying I should do something working with people..."influencing them". Hmmm...maybe I could "influence" them as an ACO?)

Sorry this is so long. I've not really had anyone to "discuss" this with and I guess I just kind of "spewed".

Thanks in advance.
Beth
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  #2  
Old 01-25-2006
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A. Gianotto A. Gianotto is offline
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Welcome Beth!

While I don't have particular advice for you regarding your interview, as I deal with a slightly different aspect of animal cruelty, I can tell you that you will find a lot of helpful ACOs here. And I also wanted to reassure you that as an ACO, you will have tremendous opportunity to influence people.

Many people want to be ACOs beecause they love animals and hate people (I know you're not like that, I'm just giving an example) - and that is a BAD move. ACOs deal with the public so much, and they have an opportunity to propel positive change constantly, by educating the public, conflict mediation, and so on. Of *course* ACOs are heros to the animals, but the role involves people much more than the average person realizes. And of course, that level of involvement somewhat depends upon you, the amount of extra effort you want to make, and your department. For example, if your department takes more of a "community policing" approach, you may be doing humane outreach, workshops and events. (If your department doesn't do that sort of thing, maybe you can be the one to start it!)

Good luck with your interview, and watch this thread for some of the responses from the fabulous ACO/HLEOs here!
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  #3  
Old 01-25-2006
imadogcop imadogcop is offline
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Default Interviewing

Hi Beth!
I am the supervisor at my shelter and have just went through a lonnnnng year of interviewing! We have had quite the turnover.

I look for appearance first; nicely dressed and well groomed. Wearing a dress or skirt would be your descision. Makes no difference to me.
A firm handshake. Look them in the eye.
Answers questions honestly.
Ask questions. Get to know what responsibilites lay ahead should you get hired. The interviewer knows the job and is usually willing to talk about it. The good, the bad, everything.
An ACO needs to be able to show compassion and authority at the same time.
ACO's are not easily intimidated and can handle themselves under stressful situations and think clearly.
Show your personality, you will be working with this person and they want someone they can enjoy being around.
Stay realistic about what you can and cannot handle. We all have our limits. My last shelter tech quit after 2 weeks because they couldn't tolerate the barking. Another quit because they couldn't handle the stress.
Do not interupt the interviewer! (pet peeve) Don't ramble on when answering a question, there are probably other interviews after yours.
Just be yourself and relax. If you don't get the job this time, keep trying. Volunteer at the shelter and gain more experience. You'll be ready when another opening comes along.

Good luck
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Old 01-26-2006
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Good luck Beth. I agree with everything that Imadogcop said. I've been a retail manager for 15 years befor getting back into Animal Control. dogcop gave everypet peeve that i had as well. try not to give too much information. I've had people rambel off subject before. Good Luck to you. Hope you get it.
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  #5  
Old 01-26-2006
carrie_cat carrie_cat is offline
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Default Re: Interview Advice and "intro"

Quote:
Originally Posted by epona4
I have put in my application for an opening at our shelter. I was wondering if any of you would have advice for me to improve my odds for getting the job.
I can't think of anything to add to what others have said already, but just wanted to add in my Good Luck wishes to you. It sure sounds like you should do well in the interview if you are sincere but natural.





(I couldn't find any horses in the choices of Emoticons so a carrot that dances was the best I could do to convey the good wishes!!)

carrie_cat
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  #6  
Old 01-26-2006
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Mark Kumpf Mark Kumpf is offline
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Default Some Q&A

One of the best ways to make an impression is spend some time on the jurisdiction & laws beforehand as you mentioned.

Applying? Make it a point to read the city code and the state laws. I good friend of mine actually commented on the current laws to an interviewer who was duly impressed having not read them recently themselves! Check out the agency. Know how many people work there. Know their hours of operation. Know their adoption policies. Make sure you have a copy of the position listing and a list of the essential functions (usually available from the Human Resources Dept) related to the job. That way you know what THEY expect from people in this position.

Show up on time. Dressed professionally. You can always comment that you know that being an ACO can be a "dirty" occupation but you have appeared as you would expect to at court when off duty or when attending a special function.

Good advice on the rambling - DON'T!. Make eye contact with ALL of the interview panel. Don't be afraid to ask them to repeat the question or clarify it if you need them to. Answers should be clear, concise and it is often good to include the question in the actual reply to indicate that you are an "active listener". Stay away from jokes & war stories. We will tell you plenty. Listen politely and attentively and DO NOT INTERRUPT. Avoid foot tappiing, gum chewing, burping, flatulence, nervous habits, teurrettes syndrome moments, and making evil statements about previous employers.

Ask yourself some of these questions and think about the answers.

Why do you want to be an ACO?

Why are you leaving (did you leave) your last job?

What do you think a typical day as an ACO would be like?

What experience do you have that qualifies you over other candidates for this position?

Describe a situation in another job where you made a suggestion for improvement to the operation or work environment whether it was implemented or not.

Are you afraid of any animals?

What do you think about euthanasia?

Could you euthanize a healthy pet? A sick pet? An injured pet?

How do you deal with stress?

Do you own any pets? If so what kind? Are they licensed, vaccinated, and altered?

What do you think about spaying / neutering?

Name one positive charecter trait about yourself.

Name one thing about yourself that you would like to improve.

Have you ever been convicted of any crime?

How would you deal with a difficult person?

How would you get a 150 lb dog into a vehicle?

Are you able to work rotating shifts, evenings, on call, holidays, and any other day that you would normally expect to be able to spend with your family or friends?

Would you be able to perform your job duties without "fear or favor? ie could you write your mother a ticket for a violation if you had to...

Describe your temper.

Have you ever left a job involuntarily? If so, why?

How does your support circle (family, friends, etc) feel about you possibly getting this job?

Do you have any issues that would prevent you from handling all of the job requirements?

If there are any issues above that you would consider something that makes people go hmmmmm, be prepared to explain in a concise, professional manner.

For example on the crime question..

Yes, I received several speeding tickets soon after obtaining my license. I have learned from that negative experience and have attended driver improvement class and have been violation free for 4 years. I intend to continue to operate my vehicle and any city vehicle safely in the future.

Know what automatic disqualifiers are. If you have them, save yourself the embarrassment of getting kicked for cause. Things like hard drug use, reckless driving, DUI, domestic violence etc. are all some pretty hard things to overcome when applying for an enforcement position.

And, feel free to PM me with answers to the above questions. I'd be happy to give you a critical view of your answers. I've been hiring people since I was 16 so I have some ability to evaluate potential winners!
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  #7  
Old 01-26-2006
epona4 epona4 is offline
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Default Thank you.

DOH! And here, the first thing I did was "ramble"!!

I will be sure NOT to do this during the interview.

Thank you for all your advice!

Mark, I have copied/pasted all your questions and will spend the next little while answering them. Thank you so much for the offer.

Beth
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  #8  
Old 01-26-2006
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mzk10 mzk10 is offline
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Great questions Mark!! When I was hired a year ago I was asked nearly all of them.

My advice (for what it's worth) is to take that list and practice answering them OUT LOUD. It really makes a difference. Something that sounds clever in your head can get you tongue tied when coming out of your mouth. Practice speaking in front of a mirror. Smile! Practice interviewing with someone you trust. They can point out nervous habits.

Say what you have to say, then SHUT UP!! An interview trick is to see what you'll do in the awkward pauses. Many people will promptly put their feet in their mouths. Instead, smile.

Expect a "tell me one of your weaknesses" question. Have one in your pocket, along with the solution. Mine was "Sometimes I can get so focused on doing things correctly that I become overwhelmed. I've learned to step back and take a few minutes to make a list. Seeing things in writing helps me prioritize."

Don't say UUUMM while collecting your thoughts. Avoid saying anything negative. Use I statements (they want to know about you.) Sounds simple, but sometimes women use "we" without thinking about it -- especially we PTA, Scout Mom, volunteer types!

And the last tip is from my mother, who use to tell me "Fake it 'til you make it." Essentially, pretend you're calm, comfortable and confident. Before you know it, you will be. And funny thing, most people can't see the difference.

P.S. Dress professionally and conservatively. Minimal jewelry, no perfume. Leave your purse at home. Instead, carry an attache with all your necessary paperwork inside (SS card, drivers license, addresses and phone numbers of your previous employers, a summary of your volunteer experience, your addresses for the last 10 years, personal and professional references, a copy of your resume). Get the name of the interviewer (with proper spelling!) and send a "Thank You" card the following day. When I was hired I was told "Mr. X was impressed with the thank you card. He's never received one before."

Wow, this turned out to be a lot longer than I had expected! Sorry. I understand your angst. I really wanted the ACO job too. I was returning to work after being the stay-at-home mom for years.
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  #9  
Old 01-27-2006
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A. Gianotto A. Gianotto is offline
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Fantastic advice, everyone! I think I may snag snippets of this and add it to a FAQ on the site, since this is such a comprehensive list.
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We miss you.
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  #10  
Old 01-30-2006
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Big Brown Dog Big Brown Dog is offline
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Do not mention your children.

I know that they represent a major accomplishment to you but there are more than a few employers out there that are going to hear nothing but four reasons why you will miss work.

My $.02
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