A good interview can make or break a decision to come work at your farm business. A good interview process gives you the greatest chance of finding and hiring the best person for the job.
Once you've narrowed down your top three to five candidates, determine who will be on the interview team. This team should include an immediate supervisor for the position, to make sure the two people 'click'; a coworker and someone from the senior management team. Avoid too many interviewers in one room.
The lead interviewer should train everyone involved in the interview. Why? You can leave a very negative impression if you're not prepared.
"If your candidate shows up and you don't know why he's there or anything about his background, you've left a terrible impression," says Bernie Erven, farm labor guru and professor emeritus at Ohio State University. "Make sure everyone understands the job you are interviewing for, make sure you are all working from the same list of questions; you can even do mock interviews and have one of your folks pretend to be the candidate. Then evaluate what you thought went well and what you felt you forgot to cover in the discussion."
This is even more important in agriculture where you may only go through this process once every three to five years.
Conduct interviews in a comfortable, private and non-intimidating place. If you're in the middle of the interview and someone comes in and talks for 10 minutes, you've just sent a message that the applicant wasn't that important. Have a clock in the background to keep time. Afterwards have a co-worker conduct a tour of the farm.
Go into any interview with confidence. That confidence sends a positive message to your applicant. Allow plenty of time for each candidate. Here's a sample timeline for a 30-minute interview:
Relax applicant (2-3 minutes)
Accurately explain the job (3 to 5 minutes)
Check any problems in the application form (4-7 minutes
Ask set of structured questions (10 – 15 minutes)
Encourage questions from applicant (2-5 minutes)
Summarize your business mission, goals and values (2-4 minutes)
Encourage more questions from applicant (2-10 minutes)
Close (2-4 minutes)
The most important task in an interview is to pose questions that reveal how a candidate thinks and might behave in the future. Make sure it's a friendly atmosphere, and above all, listen. Structured interviews – having a set of questions you work from where you ask the same questions of each candidate – are much better than informal interviews, says Erven.Next: In part three of this series we'll talk about the best questions to ask your candidate.