7 top tips for interviewing farm staff

Is your interview process robust? Or does it merely consist of a cup of tea and a quick walk around the farm?

If so, it might be time to consider a more rigorous approach to your interview technique.

We asked Paul Harris from consultancy Real Success for his top tips on how to interview staff for your farm to ensure you get the right candidate for the job.

1. Plan

You’ve done the hard work to advertise and secure the interview with a potential recruit so it’s important to continue to give the right impression at the interview stage. 

This means ensuring you have enough time in your day, other members of staff are informed and deciding where the interview will be held.

And don’t wait until the day of the interview to realise the accommodation you’re offering could do with a tidy up.

2. Prepare

If you appear unprepared for the interview, your candidate may assume you run your farm in a similar way.

Make sure that you have details of their application to hand including their personality profile report and information about the job – including job description, salary, holidays, working hours, and costs of any accommodation.

3. Structure

Always begin with the formal interview and follow up with the farm walk.

This sets the scene and ensures that if you have discovered that the candidate isn’t right for your farm that you either skip the farm walk or keep it short. 

4. Ask questions

Remember the ratio – you have two ears and one mouth so use them in this proportion at the interview.

Have a set of pre-prepared questions that are typed up and printed out for each applicant.

If you’re interviewing several candidates you won’t remember everything you discussed, so by having a set of questions where you can note down some of their responses, you will be able to recall each candidate while appearing to be consistent, professional and organised.

5. Assess 

At the end of the interview, have an assessment grid that analyses 10 qualitative aspects of the candidate such as their greeting, confidence, fit with the team and understanding of your farm system.

At the end of the interview you can then score the candidates on each aspect to give an overall percentage out of 100.

This process draws on your instincts while also providing a comparative element to the process.

6. Sell the job

The interview isn’t the time to have a moan about the industry, the government, Brexit or the supply chain.

Be enthusiastic about your farm, the industry and the incredible career opportunities on offer.

If you’re going to introduce them to other members of staff, ensure they have been briefed to be upbeat and positive too.

7. Be clear on next steps

Be clear on what happens next and when the candidate is likely to hear from you.

Always sleep on a decision and give yourself 24 hours before deciding. It shows that you make decisions carefully and gives you the chance to take up references.


Paul Harris is MD of Real Success, a people consultancy that helps the agricultural sector improve staff management and development.

OCTOBER
29

Farm succession planning during the Covid-19 crisis

Register now