New Farm Employees Should Be Carefully Evaluated And Selected

New Farm Employees Should Be Carefully Evaluated And Selected

Much time and energy goes into farm employee recruitment and interview process; evaluating the candidates needs to be done carefully too.

In any business, significant time and energy goes into the employee recruitment and interview process if you want to select the right person for the job. The farm employer who is in the process of hiring someone to be a part of the farming operation's work force has already invested effort in various stages.

Those stages include analyzing labor needs, writing position descriptions and recruiting candidates, and scheduling and conducting well-planned interviews. When the interview process is complete, the employer will check references, evaluate the candidates and hopefully extend a job offer.

Significant time and energy goes into employee recruitment and interviewing

THOUGHTFUL DECISION: In the process of hiring a new employee for your farming operation, you as an employer will recruit and interview several candidates. Then you need to put just as much time and effort into checking references and carefully evaluating each candidate before making a final selection.

The process of evaluating the candidates following the interview and reference-checking stage should be given the same attention as other steps in the employment process, says Melissa O'Rourke, an Iowa State University Extension farm management and ag business specialist in northwest Iowa. "Ideally, the recruitment and interview steps have yielded several candidates from which to choose," she adds. "It is important to reflect on the candidates and take the time to make a good selection. Farmers know the investment necessary to hire and train employees."

First, she suggests you go back to the position description and review the necessary qualifications for the job. Assess how well each candidate meets the basic qualifications and rank them on this basis.

Second, consider and rank the candidates in regard to other traits that you want to see in your team members. These include attributes such as dependability, positive attitude, aptitude and ability to get along with co-workers. Your interview process and reference checks will help you to gather information on these characteristics.

Evaluation and selection of farm employees is an important step in hiring help

Will the employee you choose really fit in? In an ideal world, the job applicant who is most highly qualified in terms of experience and education will also possess the skills to work well with others along with dependability, a positive attitude and willingness to learn. "However, we sometimes find extremely qualified individuals who lack the attitudinal skills," notes O'Rourke.


Surveys show that a number of top reasons for employee termination are unrelated to job task performance, but rather connected to employee inabilities to appropriately interact with co-workers and supervisors. Problems include refusal to follow directions, talking too much and causing conflict with co-workers, resulting in reduced productivity.

Interview techniques can give the em­ployer insight into these issues and assist in evaluating the candidates, says O'Rourke. Reference checks can also be of some assistance.

As you narrow your choices, remember that a job applicant with the right attitude and people skills may be a better choice even if the individual is lacking a specific job skill. "It may be worth the employer's time and investment to provide some training for particular tasks to a willing learner," she says. "It is much more difficult – if not impossible – for the employer to teach attitudinal skills that were missing long before the applicant came to your farm. It may be preferable to select the candidate who will fit into the make-up of your farm team if you can provide training for work duties."

Help get your new employee off to good start with a planned orientation program

Once your employment offer has been accepted, bring the new employee in as soon as possible to complete the paperwork, forms and procedures necessary for compliance with state and federal law. Go online to use Ag Decision Maker and see the Checklist for Iowa Agricultural Employers.

O'Rourke, who compiled the list, suggests you use it to help "get your new employee off to a good start with a planned orientation program, as well as initial and ongoing training opportunities."

If you have farm employee management questions, feel free to contact O'Rourke at 712-737-4230 or [email protected].

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