Conducting successful interviews

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After advertising a role and sorting through the applications, formal interviews will maximise your chance of hiring great people. Done well, interviews will help you assess if a person has the ability and motivation to be a good fit for your team and business.

Before starting interviews

  • Determine who will be involved with the interviews (one-on-one or team).
  • Think about how the interviews will be conducted (Zoom or face-to-face)
  • Be clear on your selection criteria.
  • Prepare the interview questions (also see ‘Questions’.)
  • Ensure your interview questions do not discriminate against a candidate, such as age, gender, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, marital status etc.
  • Think about how you will be evaluating each candidate.
  • Turn phones on silent and tell your team that you are busy.
  • Allocate enough time for each interview, plus some buffer time.
  • Give some thought to the type of questions that a candidate may ask.
  • Review each candidate’s resume and/or cover letter before their interview.
  • If conducting face-to-face interviews, ensure that the interview space is Covid safe.

During the interviews

  • Build rapport with the candidate and allow them to settle into the interview.
  • Be fully present by eliminating disruptions such as phone or smartwatch notifications.
  • Ask the same questions to each candidate so that you can make a fair comparison.
  • Don’t be too quick to judge.
  • Take notes – don’t rely on memory.

Questions

The two most common approaches to interviews are behavioural and skills-based questioning:

Behavioural-based questions

These are used to gain an insight into how candidates react, think and behave in response to specific situations or stresses. This type of interview is ideal for understanding the candidate’s ability to ‘reflect and correct’ or if they are the type of person who is defensive.

Example: “Describe a time when you saw a problem and took the initiative to correct it.”

Skills-based questions

These are used to identify or confirm the candidate has the right skills, knowledge and abilities to undertake the role. This type of interview helps you learn more about how they handled tasks or challenges in previous roles.

Example: “Tell us about a situation where you used your communication skills to help solve a problem.”

Evaluation

Unconscious bias is something that we’ve all exercised at one time or another, typically without even knowing it. Using a simple scoring system e.g a score out of 5 for each answer to evaluate candidates is a great way to standardise the interview process and reduce the risk of bias. Contact Sally Murfet if you would a copy of an interview evaluation form

Close the interview

It’s important to leave enough time for the candidate to ask questions. At this point, it’s a good idea to check if they are still interested in the role. Let candidates know what the next steps are and when you hope to get back to them with a decision. Once the candidate has left the interview, take a few moments to take notes.

Second interview

Before offering a role to a candidate, consider inviting them on-farm to an interview and invite the candidate’s partner (if applicable) to do a tour of the farm, and show them the housing (if included). A second interview allows you to get to know them over an extended period (typically 2–3 hours).

Reference checks

The purpose of a reference check is to confirm what a candidate has told you about their knowledge and skills. Remember that you can only contact nominated referees.

Deciding on a candidate

After completing interviews, reference checking and personality testing, you should have enough information to make an informed decision on hiring the candidate who closely matches your selection criteria.

If the right person cannot be identified after working through this process, you may decide to readvertise the role. Alternatively, you may elect to go back to the job description and modify the role to suit your preferred candidate.

Further information

Over the next 2 months we will be sharing a series of articles to help you better understand the human part of a successful farm team written by Sally Murfet, Chief Inspiration Officer of Inspire AG. These articles are designed to provide a basic awareness and, where appropriate, lead you to additional resources to help develop your HR systems & process.

Other articles in this series:

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