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4 Interviewing Guidelines to Select the Right Job Applicant

Mar 01, 2013

How are your skills in interviewing potential employees?

Higginbotham 5 12   CopyBy Gerald E. Higginbotham, Ph. D, PAS
Ruminant Business Manager-California, Micronutrients

The cost of a bad hire is steep, and it’s just not the wasted salary that’s expensive. Many experts estimate that the cost of a bad hire exceeds the annual salary of a position.

Some basic interviewing guidelines can help in the selection of the right job applicant.

1. Have an interview team.

To prevent any bias from just one person doing the interviewing, invite others from your management team to participate. These individuals could be your nutritionist, veterinarian or some other person familiar with your dairy operation. Be sure to include a person who will have direct supervision over the individual to be hired. If possible, have each member of your team conduct a one-to-one interview with the applicant. This allows an independent assessment of each applicant. It is important that everyone on the team is on the same page with what the objective is and what the job entails. Otherwise, a job applicant will come in to interview with one person and be asked completely different questions by the second person because the second person thinks the job is about something else completely.

2. Ask the right questions.

By meeting with your team beforehand, you can form pointed questions for the applicants that make the most of your time with the job candidate. Avoid questions that can be answered yes or no. Ask situational or hypothetical questions, such as, "What are your strengths that can help our dairy operation?" This allows the applicant to convey his thoughts on what his strengths are and what he/she brings to your dairy operation. Also by asking "what if" questions allow the applicant to show their problem-solving capabilities. An example question could be, "What procedures would you use if you find a down cow?"

3. Conduct a practical test.

In practical tests, applicants are required to complete a job sample or a simulated task. Observing how an applicant handles farm animals, milks cows or starts a tractor provides useful information on how well the applicant can perform the tasks assigned.

4. Ask for references.

Reference checking involves obtaining information about applicants from previous employers. Reference checks can supply important information about personality and character. Contacting several references increases your chances of getting an accurate picture of the applicant’s performance.

After the applicants have been interviewed by all team members, assemble your team together and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each applicant. Are their some qualities of an applicant that can be strengthened through some training? Some applicants may not have all of the qualifications you are requiring but with a little training they may become excellent employees.

After your team has selected the right job applicant, out of courtesy notify all applicants of your decisions. A reason for promptly notifying all applicants is that you may want to stay in touch with top applicants in case future openings appear.

The interview process described does not guarantee the selection of the right person, but it may help avoid many common mistakes. Those involved in the hiring process can make their selection decisions with a fuller awareness of the applicant’s strengths and weaknesses.

Dr. Gerald Higginbotham is Ruminant Business Manager in California for Micronutrients, a Division of Heritage Technologies, LLC. He received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah and Ph.D degree from the University of Arizona. Dr. Higginbotham is a member of the American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists and is a diplomat of the American College of Animal Sciences. Contact him at 559-907-8013 or

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