How to advertise for staff & interview tips (farm diversification)
Taking on new staff is likely to be one of the most challenging and potentially costly things you will have to do on your farm. The last thing you want is to hire the wrong person. With that in mind here are the key things to think about when hiring staff along with some interview tips to ensure you learn the most you from your candidate during the interview process.
Is it worth your while to take on new staff?
Before you hire anyone new you should consider how cost-effective it will be. Remember that any new employee will need to be paid in line with the national minimum wage or as instructed by the Agricultural Wages Board.
If you are in Scotland or Wales you will need to pay the employee in accordance with the rates set by the relevant Boards, taking into consideration different rates for different grades of the employee, or those who are studying for a relevant qualification.
If you are based in England, Board rates no longer apply unless employees have worked for you since before October 2013 and there have been no changes to their original contract. Be mindful that you will not need to pay any new employee in line with Board rates but as these can be higher than the national minimum, doing so might attract more skilled candidates.
What is the best way to advertise for the role?
So, you’ve decided you do want to employ some new faces and now want to advertise. Getting this process right is essential if your recruitment exercise is to be successful and attract the right quality of applicants.
The first thing you need to do is fully outline what you will expect of the successful candidate. This includes all the requirements of the job, to ensure that any potential applicants are fully aware of what will be expected of them, and any essential skills and knowledge they will need to have, such as experience in managing responsibility for a farm.
Take care to ensure that the content of the advert is relevant to the job and does not accidentally discriminate against a potential candidate; for example, you shouldn’t ask for a ‘handyman’ who can lift heavy objects but can specify that the job will require prior experience working with farming machinery.
It is up to you what method you choose to advertise the role. You may wish to use popular job boards, or post the advert on a farming website or in a magazine. The trick is to make sure you reach as many people as possible.
How should you plan the interview?
Conducting an interview is probably the most important part of the process. It is therefore crucial that you carefully evaluate what you need to know about the candidate and pre-plan the questions you are going to ask them. If you need someone to have prior experience in driving a tractor, make sure to include a question on this!
All questions should purely focus on the demands of the role and not be inappropriate. Never ask someone how they think they will cope with the physical demands of working on a farm due to their age or gender. Instead, it might be worth including some practical tests within the interview, assessing how long it takes for them to do key tasks on the farm.
It is also very important to make sure the interview is not interrupted and you set aside enough time in which to do it. The candidate may want a tour of the farm and this can be a useful way for you to answer questions they may have.
Who should I hire?
Finally, it’s time to make your decision and you should consider each candidate equally. To this end, it is a good idea to score how they have responded to certain interview questions or how they handled any practical assessments. Taking a look at these scores can help to demonstrate the best person for the role.
It is also helpful to get several opinions when deciding who to take on. Not only can another person spot something you miss, but they may also help to sway you from making your decision based on other factors, such as the candidate having similar interests to you. Whilst you’re likely to get on with someone in this position, they may not necessarily be the best candidate for the job.
Advice by Alan Price, Group Operations Director and HR expert at Peninsula.