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Updated 06 Jun 2020

How to choose the best workers for a farm

Agriculturists who don’t put much effort into interviewing prospective new employees are in for challenges down the road.

Roelof Bezuidenhout, Farmer's Weekly, 10 May 2018  Share  0 comments  Print

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Even if you’re a developing farmer, you will need to hire workers at some point. It is, after all, a sign that you’re doing well. But farmers who don’t put much effort into interviewing prospective employees are looking for anxiety. All too often questions are limited to the following: Where did you work and why did you leave? Can you drive a tractor? Do you drink alcohol?

This is not good enough. According to human resources consultant Andrew Wilson, not asking the right questions is taking a serious risk. “A perceptive interviewer encourages the applicant to talk. He’ll be able to pick up messages regarding things such as the candidate’s motivation, self-assurance, maturity and overall personality,” he says.

But Wilson adds that it’s a mistake to fire off questions in rapid succession.

Related: The 7 habits of highly effective farmers

An interviewer should listen and observe. Here are some questions that will help you to know applicants better. The questions should be adapted to fit the level of the applicant’s education, as well the job he or she is applying for:

Assess attitude toward work

  1. What are your good points and why?
  2. What are your weaknesses?
  3. To what do you attribute your successes?
  4. What contributed to the personal disappointments or failures you’ve had?
  5. What motivates you?
  6. What kind of people irritate you?
  7. If you could, what would you change about yourself? 

Plans and goals for self

  1. What do you see in your future?
  2. What do you want from your job that you are not getting now?
  3. What things would you like to avoid in a job and why?
  4. If you could have any job, what would it be and why? 

Attitudes towards people

  1. What qualities in people do you like and dislike?
  2. What did you like or dislike about your last boss?
  3. If you had your boss’s job, what would you do differently?

Assessing a candidate’s work history

  1. Why did you leave your last job?
  2. What do you like best about your work?
  3. Discuss your general impressions of your last job.
  4. If you could, what would you change in your job and why?

Related: How to run a successful family (farm) business

You can also ask your current employees these questions

Asking existing employees these questions will help you to get to know them better as well. But be warned: the answers could teach you as much about your failings as a manager as about the personal feelings of your employees. That’s as it should be.

This article originally appeared on Farmers Weekly.

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About the author

Roelof Bezuidenhout, Farmer's Weekly

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