Avoid Hiring Mistakes

June 2, 2010 05:36 PM

Hiring great employees who make farming more efficient and enjoyable is one of the most important jobs you can do as a manager. Avoiding the wrong hire is even more important. 

The best place to start is to be patient and make sure there is a good pool of candidates to choose from, says Erika Osmundson, marketing and communication manager for AgCareers.com. Waiting even a little longer could mean there are more qualified candidates in the pool.

Here's where to start the search:

  • Go by word of mouth
  • Check references
  • Use an employee referral program that rewards other employees for finding the right candidate

Good employees are worth the extra time and planning it takes to find them. They can help improve the work atmosphere to make everyone happier, Osmundson says. Good employees can make the return on investment higher, make the farm more efficient and increase employee morale because they like to go to work.

When reviewing a potential employee's credentials, review the person's resume and look for measurable experience to see just how much the employee actually contributed, Osmundson says. Using efficient interview questions can also be beneficial. Behavioral-based questions are the best to see how an employee would react in specific situations.

The three that are the best are: What was the situation? What did you do? What was the outcome? The theory behind asking these types of questions is that past action indicates future action, and it can help farmers evaluate the potential employee. When using these questions, it's important to follow up to make sure the potential employee answers all parts of the question without getting overwhelmed.

Another important aspect of interviewing is to develop follow-up questions in advance. Knowing what traits are important to the farm operation is important to developing these questions, Osmundson says. The best way to see if the candidate has the ideal traits is to ask application questions about different scenarios.

What Goes Wrong
One of the key areas farm operations often fail at is in lacking formal hiring practices. Every operation can benefit from a personnel policy that includes hiring procedures, says Suzanne Karberg in a Purdue Extension publication. A clear policy that takes account of the employee traits and needs necessary for a successful operation can provide a foundation for the farm operation that reduces stress and anxiety. 

Lacking or having an incomplete job description may result in employees not knowing what is expected, Karberg says. To start, it can be helpful to write down all the tasks that are performed on the farm and assign responsibility to a specific position for each task. After the job descriptions are in place, make sure to match the right person to the job.

This method helps fit people to positions that are right for them. Customizing a set employee package can reduce headaches and keep employee management consistent.

Click here for more: Keys to Successful Farm Business Management


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