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Why this matters:

In addition to causing potential harm to the animal being groomed, a careless groomer may do lasting damage to a business’s reputation. Pet owners trust that you’ll take good care of their furry companions, so any abrasions or rashes resulting from the grooming process could lead them to worry that your facility doesn’t treat animals properly.

What to listen for:

  • Knowledge of basic safety principles, from using grooming tools gently to exercising extra caution around an animal’s face and eyes
  • Recognition that animal safety is always the first priority in the grooming process

Why this matters:

Pests and illnesses can easily transfer from animal to animal, which is why it’s critical to keep your grooming facility clean. If your groomer isn’t vigilant about cleaning and ventilating their work area after each session, pets can pick up fleas or kennel cough, making it unlikely that pet owners will trust your company in the future. What’s more, signs of uncleanliness can scare off potential customers.

What to listen for:

  • Knowledge of basic sanitation principles, like disinfecting workstations after use, ventilating stale air, and sweeping hair off the ground
  • Signs that the candidate understands the importance of cleanliness from both a customer service and animal health perspective

Why this matters:

Not all animals are comfortable at the groomer. In fact, many are anxious around strange people and noises, like those from blow-dryers and clippers, making the pet groomer’s job more difficult. The ideal candidate will have experience either working with or handling anxious pets and will know how to calm animals to successfully complete the job at hand.

What to listen for:

  • References to tactics that can calm anxious pets, like adopting a positive tone of voice, providing treats, introducing new tools before using them, and working slowly
  • A clear understanding of the risks that accompany working with stressed and frightened animals

Why this matters:

Although many pet groomers learn on the job, you need to know that your new hire is comfortable around animals. Whether they’ve previously worked as a dog walker or veterinary assistant, volunteered at a shelter, owned pets themselves, or looked after someone else’s, they should understand basic handling principles and know how to put unfamiliar animals at ease.

What to listen for:

  • Acknowledgment of the challenges that come with working with unfamiliar animals on a daily basis 
  • Signs that the candidate has experience handling a wide range of pets, including both large and small breeds

Why this matters:

When beloved pets are involved, people can become very emotional. Even if your new pet groomer always delivers quality work, they may have to deal with upset pet owners from time to time. An ideal candidate will have experience handling difficult people and will know how to do so with patience, understanding, and finesse. 

What to listen for:

  • Signs that the candidate understands how to handle sensitive situations, from maintaining a calm demeanor to offering solutions to the issue at hand
  • Recognition of the importance of delivering good customer service, even in challenging situations

Why this matters:

First and foremost, pet groomers provide cosmetic services. Trimming nails, cleaning ears, and styling hair all require a keen eye for detail. Since customers expect a high degree of attentiveness to their pet, the ideal candidate will be detail-oriented and eager to provide comprehensive services from beginning to end.

What to listen for:

  • Commitment to seeing projects through to completion, even if they become difficult or time-intensive 
  • An indication that the candidate looks for inconsistencies and double-checks their work before declaring it finished

Why this matters:

Customers sometimes have very particular requests for their pets’ hairstyles. Your groomer might not personally agree with these requests, but they still have to honor them (within reason) to ensure the customer leaves satisfied. After all, the pet may be receiving the haircut, but the owner is the one paying for it.

What to listen for:

  • Flexibility when it comes to trying new approaches and techniques, indicating that the candidate is an eager learner
  • Willingness to accommodate ideas and opinions that differ from their own
  • Commitment to delivering exceptional customer service

Why this matters:

Empathy is incredibly important when working with animals. Since pets can’t verbally communicate what’s wrong, it’s up to professionals in the animal services industry to flag concerns that owners aren’t trained to notice. The ideal pet groomer candidate will genuinely care about the well-being of the pets they groom and will promptly report all health concerns to customers.

What to listen for:

  • Signs that the candidate has genuine compassion for animals
  • Good verbal communication skills, allowing the groomer to share concerns and observations with pet owners using terms they will understand
  • Willingness to go above and beyond basic job requirements

Why this matters:

Pet grooming can be a physically demanding job, but it’s also one that allows people to apply their love for animals in a professional setting. Knowing that your candidate understands both sides of the job and possesses a real passion for working with animals can help you find someone who is likely to thrive at your organization for a long time.

What to listen for:

  • Evidence of passion when talking about animals
  • Eagerness to acquire new grooming skills and techniques
  • Signs that a candidate, if they’re new to pet grooming, has sufficiently researched the role and knows what’s required
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