FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Below are frequently asked questions about careers and applying for a position with the Chicago Zoological Society.

PRIVACY

How do you use my personal information?

The Chicago Zoological Society does not use your personal information collected during the application and hiring process for marketing purposes, nor do we rent or sell this information to third-party vendors..

What personal information do you collect?

The Society will ask for your contact information, job history and other relevant information related to the job application and hiring process.  This is collected through our secure applicant tracking system.  Should you receive and accept an offer of employment, we may share information about you to a third-party consumer reporting agency, who performs background checks on our behalf, and obtain background information about you from this agency to further consider you for hire.
 

What security measures are in place to protect this information?

The Chicago Zoological Society takes the protection of your personal information very seriously.  The Society is committed to safeguarding and combatting risks associated with confidential personal information and has taken reasonable measures to protect this information.  The third- party vendors utilized by the Chicago Zoological Society in association with the application and hiring process undergo a stringent review process to assure they also provide all necessary protections and safeguards for your information.

SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS

What are the technical system requirements to apply? Must I use a computer? Can I use my phone or tablet?

Our applicant tracking system is a very user-friendly and responsive system.  It is designed so that your experience is optimized, and you can apply using a variety of devices (mobile, desktop, tablet).  There are supported browser environments that are recommended for an optimal application experience.  If you are utilizing a previous version of the browser, the system should still work, although those browsers may no longer be supported.  This may increase security risks, so you are encouraged to always use the most recent and widely used Internet browsers.  While subject to change, a current list includes:
•Internet Explorer 11
•Firefox 38ESR+/41+
•Safari 8, 9
•Chrome 43+
•Android 4.4, 5
•IOS 8, 9, 104

 

What if I am having technical issues?

One of the first steps in troubleshooting is to try a different web browser (or version) to determine if that makes a difference in your experience. 
 
It is also suggested you clear your cache (temporary internet files and cookies), as this can impact the quality and speed of your experience. 
 
Internet Explorer (IE)
(1)  Go to the Tool bar menu.  Click on Tools to bring up the drop down menu. 
(2)  Click on Internet Options
(3)  In the pop up window, go to the General tab, look for the Browsing History section and click Delete
(4)  It will bring up a second pop up window with a menu asking you to confirm what Browsing History to delete.  Once you have confirmed your selection, hit Delete.
(5)  Click OK.   
 
Firefox
(1) Go to the Tool bar menu.  Click on View History, Bookmarks, and more to bring up the drop down menu.
(2)  Click on History.
(3)  Click on Clear Recent History.
(4)  In the Clear All History pop-up window, confirm your selection and click Clear Now
 
There are many variations of devices that an end user may have that may impact the application experience.  For example, your computer’s processor (CPU) and memory (RAM) will impact your overall performance and, thus, your experience.  That means if you are using an “older” computer or outdated internet browser, this may impact your experience. 
 
If you are still having issues, you may want to simply try a different device.  Using a different computer or changing from your phone to a computer may make a difference in your experience.

What if I forget my username or password?

The system is a secure system with built in self-service provisions if you forget your username or password.

When you set up your new account, you are required to provide a current email address.  This is your username.    Upon entering this information, be sure to check that you have entered your correct email address and it  is spelled correctly.   If you created an account with an “incorrect” email address, even by accident, that “incorrect” email address is now your user name.   You will need to use this for logging in, but you can correct the email address that your correspondence goes to in your profile. 
 
You are also required to select a secure password when you create your initial profile.  It is very important that you select a secure password and one that you will remember.
 
Last, you must set up security questions when you create your profile to assist you should you forget this information. 
 
You can utilize the “Forgot Password” link to have a temporary password sent to you by email if you forget your password.  The email you used to create your profile will be the email to which the link will be sent to create a new password. 
 
If you are unsuccessful logging in three times, you must wait at least 30 minutes before trying to log on again.  You may only reset your password once every 24 hours.
 
Important:  Please be aware that due to the security of the system and your privacy, we do not have access to your password or security questions and are unable to assist you with password issues or resets.  Therefore, it is really important you remember your username, password and keep your profile updated with a current email.

COMMUNICATION

How will you be contacting me?

We utilize various methods of communication, including email and telephone.  Please be sure that you provide both a current email and telephone number.  Important:  If you have applied to an open position, we encourage you to regularly check your email for correspondence, including your spam or junk mail.  Important:  If your email or telephone contact information has changed, be sure to update this information in your profile as soon as possible.  If we don’t have your current information, we will not be able to contact you when needed.

What if I want to contact you?

We would love to personally talk to everyone that applies, but due to the high volume of applications we receive, it is not possible.  If you are seeking about your application, you can log into the Career Center at any time to review the status of your application.   If you have been involved in the phone screen and interview process, the recruiter will provide you with their contact information so you can easily communicate and stay in touch.

WORK SCHEDULE & TYPES OF JOBS

Is Brookfield Zoo open in winter?

Yes!  Brookfield Zoo is open 365 days a year.  (If you have not experienced Holiday Magic, the Zoo is really magical with the tens of thousands of sparking lights each year!)

The Zoo is open every day. What would my schedule be?

Work schedules vary with each position and will be explained in more detail by the recruiter if you are selected for a phone screen or interview. 
 
Many of our positions work non-traditional days, and some work non-traditional hours, especially during our busy season.  Your work schedule may include holidays, weekends, mornings, and/or evenings.   The majority of our full-time positions have a set schedule.  Sometimes, the schedule may change.  Due the nature of the positions, the majority of our temporary seasonal positions have a varied schedule that may include weekends, weekends only, or you may need to be available any day of the week.  Again, the Zoo is open seven days a week, 365 days each year, and we need coverage in many areas to staff the operation.

What types of positions are available?

Many people think of zookeeper positions when they think about working at a zoo, but there are many different types of positions and people needed to successfully operate such a diverse organization and operation.  We have staff in accounting and finance, creative services (graphic artists and writers), janitors, police officers, education professionals, marketing staff, fundraising, human resources, information technology, groundskeepers, trades workers, veterinary services staff and much, much more.

What does it mean if my position is "seasonal?"

At the Chicago Zoological Society, “seasonal” positions mean that there is not a set, regular schedule or guaranteed hours and you do not work a year-round, full-time schedule.  Seasonal staffing needs on any given day are based on operating needs or, in other words, how busy the Zoo is or is anticipated to be on any given day.  Generally speaking, we begin to get busy when the weather gets nice in the spring.  Think of it this way, when do you want to come to the Zoo?  It’s usually when the weather is not too hot and not too cold, not raining or snowing or during fun special events like Boo! At the Zoo, Summer Nights, and Holiday Magic.  The majority of our seasonal employees will average 20-30+ hours per week during our busy season and 0-20 hours during our non-busy season (such as January through March).

What is my schedule like if I am hired for a seasonal position?

It will vary with the position for which you have been hired.  Majority of our seasonal positions are servicing our guests surrounding the hours the Zoo is open.  This includes week days and weekend days generally between the hours of 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.   We have extended hours during special events such as Summer Nights, Boo! At the Zoo, and Holiday Magic.

Who works a seasonal job and what kind of jobs are seasonal?

We offer a variety of opportunities that are seasonal in nature that may potentially be a match for anyone at any “stage in life” depending on what you are looking for and the requirements of the position.  It may be someone’s first job, someone’s final job or something in between.   Some seasonal employees work year round, some summer only, some summer season and Holiday Magic, or any number of combinations.  And, it’s at the Zoo! 
 
Vast majority of our seasonal positions are working directly with our guests providing a very important service that contributes to creating that memorable experience at the Zoo.  You may be handling ticket purchases, driving a motor tram, landscaping, cleaning, and assisting with summer camp or other programs, etc.  Regardless of the specific position, you will have an opportunity to interact and provide customer service to our guests.
 

When is the best time to submit an application for a seasonal job?

Much earlier than you may think!  While the Zoo is generally busiest during the summer between Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend and December’s Holiday Magic, our hiring cycle starts well before this peak time period.  In fact, we begin our active recruitment in January for our seasonal recruitment and hiring campaign.  Ideally our target is to have a majority of our positions filled by the traditional spring break time period.
 

What seasonal positions do you hire for first?

First, the positions that we need to hire the most numbers of new hires for such as Admissions and Ticket Sales.
 
Secondly, the biggest need is always for individuals that are available to work week days in addition to Saturdays and/or Sundays.
 
Last but not least, individuals that are available to work during our non-peak summer season. The hours may be less and vary, but the zoo is open every day of the year. 
 
We receive numerous applications from individuals that indicate they can only work weekends or are only available during June through August.  While we do have some positions that match this availability, it is a lot less than you think so they fill up super-fast.
 

Who gets hired at the Zoo?

It takes a wide variety of people from many different backgrounds and a wide range of talents, skills, knowledge, perspectives, and experience to operate a zoo.  Besides meeting the minimum qualifications for the position, we look for people that have an interest in animals and the natural world and embrace our pride values (people, results, innovation, diversity and enthusiasm).
 

I have applied multiple times for a full-time position. How do I get a full-time position?

Goodness, please do not feel discouraged by this. 
 
While there are over 400 full-time employees, our turnover is pretty low.  During our annual service awards, we are typically celebrating roughly 70 employees that have 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35+ years of service.  
 
Although this might not be what you want to hear, when a position does become available, it is going to be competitive so always be prepared with your best self at every stage of the process.  And, keep trying!  We really do appreciate your interest thus here are a few other recommendations to consider:

•Take advantage of technology by creating a profile and setting up automatic notifications to be sent to your email when a type of position becomes available.  You may manage these notifications (turn on, turn off, modify, etc.) as you desire with in your profile. 
•Maintain your profile minimally with a functional email and telephone number. 
•Make sure that you have updated your on-line application and, if applicable, resume to the most current information especially when you apply to a position.  When applying to an open position, we discourage using an outdated application and resume profile (including if you are a current or former employee).
•Keep connected with the Zoo in alternate ways.  You may volunteer, become a member, follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube or just come visit to enjoy a day at the Zoo. 
•We encourage you to be engaged in and support conservation efforts for animals and their natural habits regardless.

 

How do I become a zookeeper?

This is always a great question.  These are highly competitive positions at every level.  Prior relevant experience working with animals is a must and specific experience with the particular animals involved with the position that is open is preferred.  CZS zookeepers are among the highest paid zookeepers in the country so competition is very stiff.  Zookeepers are responsible for basic animal care, but they also perform animal observations, may participate in breeding programs, give talks to guests about the animals, and much more.  Zookeeping positions at Brookfield Zoo have education preferences or requirements depending on the level of position. Many zookeepers get their start as an intern or in temporary zookeeping positions (here or at another zoo or related organization).  These opportunities are a great way to gain valuable experience in zookeeping to help qualify for a full-time position.

 

WORKING AT THE ZOO

What is the Zoo's workplace culture like?

The Chicago Zoological Society is a private nonprofit organization that operates Brookfield Zoo on land owned by the Forest Preserves of Cook County. 
 
CZS is recognized as a collaborative, science-based leader, protecting animals both in the wild and under professional care.  We reach out to our own surrounding communities to engage people of all ages and abilities in nature-inspired science learning, leading the way as an inclusive conservation movement. 
 
Our mission is “To inspire conservation leadership by engaging people and communities with wildlife and nature”. 
 
We have a set of organizational values that guide all our daily decisions, actions, and behavior reflecting what is really important to us as an organization and ensure a common understanding of what we expect from each other. The core values we live by are: People, Results, Innovation, Diversity, and Enthusiasm.  We take PRIDE in everything we do. 
 
Our Strategic Priorities:  Inspire (conservation leadership), Engage (our communities), and Restore (wildlife populations and people’s connection to nature). .

If hired, are there opportunities to advance in my professional career?

Yes, there are a variety of opportunities to advance your career at CZS.
•A traditional way to advance is often described as upward mobility into a next level position through a promotion or position upgrade. 
•Advancement may also involve taking on additional responsibilities or work projects in one’s current position. 
•Advancement may also be a lateral move – different position, same level. 

But, advancement may mean different things to different people.  It may be one of the above, or it may mean being offered opportunities for professional development through participation in relevant seminars and/or educational classes.  
 
You are encouraged to ask these specific questions during the phone screen and interview process specific to the position for which you are being considered as the answer may vary depending on the position and/or department structure.  This will be the best opportunity to provide you with a more individualized answer to your question.

APPLICATION PROCESS

Is there a minimum age requirement?

You must be at least 16 years of age at the time of application for an employment opportunity.  If you are not at least 16 years of age, we cannot “hold your application” until your birthday.   Due to the nature of the job, some positions do require an applicant to be at least 18 years of age (example:  Groundskeeper) or 21 years of age (example:  Bartender).

What do I need to submit an application?

You are going to be asked for your contact information (functional email and telephone number), employment history and several job specific questions during the application process.  You are encouraged to have relevant information available while you complete the application process so you are providing current and accurate information.  We will verify this information during the interview process and, if you receive and accept a contingent offer, we will verify your employment history and other relevant job related information.

Do I need to submit a resume?

While you are not required to submit a resume, we do encourage you to submit one especially if you are applying to a full-time opportunity.
 
You may use the "import profile" button to upload a resume and automatically fill matching information in the application form for you. Please review to make sure it is accurate and complete. Otherwise, you may use your profile to build your resume/CV, just click this box in the Resume/CV section.

How do I know you received my application?

When you are logged in to your profile, you may check the status of you submitted applications by going to the Candidate Zone > Dashboard > Applications >Submitted Applications.   Click on the Job Title for more details about the status of your application. 
 
You should also receive an email notification confirming receipt of your application.  If you did not receive an email, you may need to check your spam or junk mail folders.

What happens after I submit my application?

Generally we will review applications submitted in the order in which they are received for that position.  The number of applications we receive will vary from position to position.  It may take us several days to a week or so before we review your application.

It has been longer than a week. Why is my application in the same status of "Applied" or "Reviewed?"

While every applicant is important to us, this may occur for a number of reasons that may include: 
•The response for the position was greater than expected so we may need a little more time to initially review.
•The response for the position was not as great as expected so we are still accepting and reviewing applications.
•For some positions, especially our seasonal/temporary volume positions, it may be related to timing.  

What does that mean?  For example, we start recruiting for many of our seasonal/temporary positions as early as January because we are seeking individuals that are available to begin work as early as February.  If you indicated an available start date that does not match our current timing for business operations, you may remain in the applied or reviewed status for a period of time.

 

Can I apply to more than one position?

Yes, of course.  We encourage you to review the details of the various open positions carefully and to apply to those you are qualified for and most closely match your interests.  There may be a number of similar positions open but they may have a different work schedule or are located in a different location within Brookfield Zoo.  Be thoughtful about what you are applying for, though. For example, if you do not meet the minimum qualifications for a position, you are discouraged from applying to the position.  We will only consider those candidates that minimally meet the minimum qualifications.
 

What happens after my application is reviewed?

We receive a large volume of applications for each open position. We will review your background as it relates to the requirements of the position, and we will contact those candidates that best meet the requirements of the position and our specific needs. It may be several days to a few weeks before you hear from us either by email or a recruiter may contact you directly. You may review the status of your application at any time through the Society’s on-line Career Center.
 

Can I "pet" a lion?

Just kidding. 😀 However, we do get asked the question or similar.  Brookfield Zoo seeks the highest standards and best practices in animal care and welfare.  We know that most people will never be able to see a black rhino in the wild or most species we are privileged to care for.   We want our guests and employees to feel and see the connection between plants, wildlife, and human beings.  It is different when we all have an opportunity to experience these amazing animals, safely, and are shown specific actions we personally can take to protect them and are given the tools to become advocates for these animals and their natural habits.  So, no, you are not going to be able to “pet” a lion as an interviewee/employee but you can learn about all our species and do something to make a difference.

INTERVIEW PROCESS & POST INTERVIEW

What happens if I am contacted by a recruiter for a position I applied for?

Typically, the first step is to conduct an initial phone screen with those candidates who we feel are best suited for the position.  If both parties are mutually interested after the phone screen, the next step may be an interview.

What does a phone screen involve?

We recommend treating a phone screen similar to how you would prepare and conduct yourself for a traditional interview.  Depending on the position, we will be asking you questions about your employment history and your background as it relates to the requirements of the position for which you applied.   The phone screen is for your benefit as well; we want you to ask us questions so that you obtain the information you need to learn about our organization and the position you are being considered for.

What happens if I am contacted for an interview?

Generally an interview is to meet with the hiring manager on-site here at Brookfield Zoo.  The interview may also involve other team members in either a panel style interview or conducted as individual interview session.  We understand this time is an important investment for both of us.  We want the day and time to be mutually convenient so we will coordinate schedules as best as possible.  We also are flexible to consider non-traditional interview options should the need arise.

What should I expect during an interview?

Similar to the phone screen but we will be asking you more detailed questions about your experience and background as it relates to the requirements of the position.   Generally our questions are behavioral based and situational.  We will also allow plenty of time for you to ask us questions.  An average time investment for the interview process is approximately 60 minutes.

What if I applied to a seasonal/temporary position?

If you applied to a seasonal/temporary position, generally you would also complete a phone screen and, if mutually interested, an interview process.

How long does the phone screen and interview process take?

While we want to move as quickly as possible, it is an important decision for both of us. The amount of time it takes will vary with the position, number of interviewees, and the availability of the hiring manager and interviewees. Typically phone screens and interviews each take 1-2 weeks each to complete.  The recruiter will gladly be able to answer this question related to the position for which you are being considered.
 

How should I prepare for a phone screen/interview?

The more prepared you are, the more relaxed or at ease you are likely going to be during the process regardless of it being a phone screen or an interview. The definition of being prepared is going to be up to you. There are many options available but here are a few quick suggestions:
•Research the organization.
•Familiarize yourself with the posting or description of the position. (We strongly discourage you from asking, “What position did I apply to?”)
•Anticipate what questions you may be asked and be prepared to answer (but don’t sound overly rehearsed). 
•For a phone screen, make sure you are in a private and quiet location.  You don’t want to have loud outside noises disrupting or distracting from your conversation.  We encourage you to get to this location 5-10 minutes prior to the scheduled call.
•Make sure you know how you are going to get to the location for the on-site interview and allow extra time in case traffic is bad or public transportation is not on-time.  If you are unexpectedly running late or even if you get lost, call us as soon as possible! 
•If your interview is via a web cam, check out your surroundings and what will be viewable to the interviewer.   Make sure what is visible in the screen is appropriate/professional.
•Prep the night before by getting a great night of sleep.
•Lastly and maybe most important, bring your best self!
 

What should I wear/bring/etc?

Regardless of the position for which you are interviewing, we encourage your attire to be professional.   The location of your interview inside the Zoo may require walking so bring appropriate “gear” for the weather including umbrella, walking shoes, snow boots, etc.  Depending on the position for which you applied, you may want to bring copies of your resume, portfolio, notepad & pen (to take notes), etc.
 

Do I need to pay for parking or admission to the Zoo for an onsite interview?

Nope; if you have been extended an invitation to interview on site, we will make arrangements for your parking and admission to the Zoo for you for that time period.  However, this does not include free admission for anyone that may accompany you to the interview.  Please understand your guests will be charged the Zoo’s general admission.
 

Where are you located and how do I get there?

If you are scheduled for an interview, we will provide a map with directions to the Zoo and where to go upon your arrival. 
 

Where do I park?

Generally you will be provided instructions to come to the South Gate entrance.  Depending on where your interview is scheduled inside the Zoo, you then be instructed to park either in the South Gate parking lot or Discovery Center parking lot.  We will provide you with more specific instructions should you be scheduled for an interview.
 

What if I take public transportation?

We are accessible by public transportation.  We encourage you to review the bus route or train stops in relation to the Zoo.  In most cases, you may have additional walking in order to enter through the South Gate entrance and then get to your interview destination.  Thus, please plan accordingly. You may even check the bus or train schedule to obtain an estimated time of arrival, especially the day of your interview.
 

How soon will I hear from you after an interview?

That will vary with the position you are being considered for and the interview schedule.  The recruiter you are working with will provide you with timelines along the way and will update you if there is anything that would impact that timeline.  We want to keep open lines of communication during the process so we invite you to do the same.  And, if you have questions, please ask!
 

Will I hear from you either way if I don't get the job?

Yes, of course. If you are not being considered further you will minimally receive an email correspondence communicating this update specific to that particular position. In many cases we will also contact you by telephone to personally communicate this update to you. The timing will vary depending on when that determination has been made. For example, in some cases we may make that determination after the phone screen and in some cases we may not make that final determination until all of the interviews have been conducted. We appreciate your interest in the Chicago Zoological Society and we really do understand how hard this “in-between period” may be.  And, of course, if you have phone screened or interviewed and are seeking an update, contact your recruiter.
 

If I applied to multiple positions and did not get selected for one, does that automatically disqualify me from the others?

Not at all.  Regardless of your not being selected for one position, you will be considered for the other positions that you apply or applied to.
 

What happens if I receive a job offer?

First, if you receive a job offer, congratulations!  How exciting! It’s the Zoo!
 
All our job offers are contingent upon the completion of a thorough background check process and some positions may require a post-offer physical. Your recruiter will be communicating with you about these processes if and when applicable.
 

What does a "thorough background check" involve?

Upon accepting the contingent offer, you will be provided with forms that will explain the process and give us permission to proceed with the background check process.  The background check process includes a criminal background check and, depending on the requirements of the position, may include employment verification, professional references, driving record, educational and other credentials.  We will engage you in the process which typically takes 7 to 10 business days.
 

When or how soon may I start?

Once the background check process has been completed and, if applicable, post offer physical, your recruiter will work with you and the hiring manager to identify a mutually convenient start date. Of course if you are currently employed, we encourage you to work with your current employer to either provide professional communication of your employment with the Chicago Zoological Society or notice of your resignation, as appropriate.

Behind the scenes, we will be registering you to participate in New Hire Orientation and customer service training. You will be receiving email communication prior to your scheduled new hire orientation date to complete new hire paperwork electronically. Your manager will be preparing for your start by making sure you are provided an email address, registered for required training, setting up your location training, preparing your work space as appropriate, etc. We want to be sure we are ready to have you Join the Pride!