In this month’s cover story, Apple Grower of the Year co-winner Jeannette Evans advises growers to “surround yourself with as good a people as you can find. You’re as good as the people you surround yourself with.”
Evans is right. The success of your business depends on hiring the right people to fill your needs. Sometimes staffing can be an afterthought, but your business is only as strong as the employees you hire. But, exactly how do you hire the right people?
In a session at this year’s North American Farmers’ Direct Marketing Association convention, Judy Kolk of Klayben Farms presented tips for successful recruitment and offered advice on what to ask when you are interviewing potential employees. Here’s 7 steps to hire the best employees.
1. Know What You’re Looking For — Kolk says before you place a help wanted ad or start interviewing candidates, think about:
- Values most important to you and your business;
- Qualities and skills your best employees have;
- Staffing needs you have.
2. Write A Good Job Description — Use all the information you’ve gleaned from the questions above to describe the culture of your business, what your expectations are, and what employees will be getting out of the position. Screen applications and resumes for qualities that you’ve identified as being important to you and your business. Take note of any experience that would also make a candidate a good fit.
3. Seek Employees In Creative Ways — Use your farm’s Facebook page or Twitter account to advertise for a position. You can create a “jobs” or “career” page on your farm’s website as well. Think about asking for referrals from current and past employees and even from local clubs and organizations (4-H, church groups, library, etc.).
4. Details Matter — Kolk says she won’t consider a candidate for a job until he or she has completed a basic application, and this sets a professional tone to the process. She also asks for a minimum of two references with current telephone numbers. Once you’ve selected some potential candidates to conduct interviews with, pay close attention to the little details during the interview — the applicant’s body language, promptness, etc. Little details matter to you and your business, and those should matter in interviews, too.
5. Take Your Time When You’re Interviewing — Don’t rush through the interview; set the tone by making clear what the position is and start by verifying the candidate’s information. This allows the applicant time to get comfortable and relax — you’ll have a better interview experience.
Listen and take notes on the type of answers the candidate is giving — are they positive or negative, critical or resentful? Follow up on vague answers. Ask behavioral questions to reveal how the candidate approaches challenges, their resourcefulness, and personal responsibility such as “Can you describe a situation when you had to do something at work that you did not know how to do?”
6. Do Your Homework — When checking references, ask about the candidate’s reliability, teach-ability, quality of work, and impact on the team. Also think about asking:
- How did he/she take correction?
- Would you hire him/her again?
- Would you trust this person with money or keys?
- List the top three strengths of the candidate.
7. Follow-Up — As the interview is wrapping up, make sure to describe the next steps. Kolk says that if you have any concerns about a candidate, ask for a third reference as a test. If a third reference isn’t supplied, the candidate shouldn’t be considered. After you’ve made a job offer to the candidate, and he or she accepts, send a welcome letter and include vital information such as start date and time, clothing requirements, and orientation and training requirements.
Although it may seem like a long approach, taking extra steps in the hiring process will help assure that you’ve selected the right people to be ambassadors for your farm market. Your customers will feel welcomed, and this will hopefully result in more sales and a successful season for you and your business.