How to succeed at interviews

How to succeed at interviews

With all the work put in to your application, the job interview is often the final hurdle before a job offer is made. Find out how you can shine and improve your chances of getting the job.
On farm appraisal.
On farm appraisal.

This TIAH Guide gives you some great tips on how to stand out in a farming or growing job interview. Learn the importance of researching the company and its values, preparing answers to potential questions, dressing appropriately, and showing confidence. 

Plus, get advice on answering common interview questions and what to do if you're applying for a new position within the same company.

A job interview offer is exciting because it shows that the farming or growing company believes you have the potential to be a new employee. It also gives you the opportunity to show why you're the best person for the job and allows you to decide if the role and the company are the right fit for you.

Prepare thoroughly

Preparation for an interview is vital. Find out as much as you can about the company and its values and culture. Read the job description and person specification again so you're clear on what the employer is looking for.

Top tip: Hugh Pocock, one of the founding directors of agribusiness recruitment specialist Cultura Connect, says: “My top tip for interviewees is to make sure they have done as much research as they can about the company. If you cannot find any information online, ring someone who might know and ask them about the company.

“If a recruitment decision is made between two similar candidates, it will come down to the person who has done the most research on that business.”

Be ready to talk about your achievements

Think of examples from your past or current work that fit the desired requirements. Most employers are looking for evidence-based answers, so use the STAR method to tell short, positive stories about what you have achieved.

STAR involves describing a situation, the task you were given, the specific action you took, and evidence of the positive results that followed (Find out more at STAR).

Top tip: Hugh Pocock of Cultura Connect stresses the importance of being open and honest about your level of experience. He says: “If you are going for a hands-on role working in an orchard, milking cows, or at a calf-rearing unit, you need to demonstrate your relevant experience.”

Think about your transferable skills

Even if you've worked in a different industry, your experience can still be valuable and relevant to the job you're applying for, so don't underestimate the skills you've developed. Your ability to adapt, problem-solve, and work efficiently under pressure are all valuable transferable skills that can be applied to the new role.

Don't be afraid to highlight these skills during your interview. Employers value candidates who can bring diverse experiences and skills. So, confidently present your transferable skills and prove why you are the perfect fit for the job.

Practise your answers out loud

Practise speaking your prepared answers out loud in front of a relative or trusted friend. The more you hear yourself saying the words, the easier they'll come to mind without hesitation, and the more comfortable you'll feel saying them.

If the interview is online, find a quiet place, ensure your internet connection is stable, and have a neutral or blurred background.

Dress appropriately for the job you're seeking – you could ask a recruiter about a company’s dress code.

Arrive five to 10 minutes before the interview. Relax, smile, and confidently greet the interviewer with a firm handshake.

Looking for more help on applying for jobs?

Our Employment Toolkit contains a host of resources to help you with each step of applying for a new job in farming and growing.

From researching roles to preparing for an on-farm interview, we've broken the process of applying for a job down into three key steps and collected everything you need to know in one place.
Shaking hands after successful interview. AungTun

Be ready for the opening question

The standard opening question: “Can you tell me a little about yourself?” is a gift for interviewees. Don't simply answer with a summary of your life and career to date. Instead, use it as an opportunity to take control and talk about the parts of your story you want to emphasise and which the interviewer, in turn, will focus on.

Sell your strengths

During the interview, sell your strengths and – using the STAR method - highlight two or three of your key achievements and successes.

Body language is important

Smile frequently, be positive and enthusiastic, and make eye contact when listening to and answering questions.

Give answers that highlight your skills and suitability for the role

Respond to questions truthfully, keep answers short and focused, and ensure they are tied to your skills and accomplishments.

Key skills to mention include knowledge of the farming or growing sectors, communication, collaboration and teamwork, adaptability, problem-solving, positivity, organisation, and leadership. 

Prepare questions of your own

Make sure you have prepared two or three questions. These could include, “Can you describe a typical day for someone in this job?” or, “If I were in this role, how would my performance be measured?”.

What to say at the end

Finally, thank the interviewer for their time and say you look forward to hearing from them.

Applying for a role at a company where you already work

Most of the principles above apply if you're an employee seeking a new role in the same company. Concentrate on STAR-based examples of your achievements in your existing role, with testimonials from colleagues or managers, and highlight how you've helped to improve the company’s performance.

Speak to staff in the area where you hope to work to understand the role and working environment better so you're better equipped to answer questions.

Post interview

Follow up with a thank you email to the interviewer. This could include a brief summary of the key points you talked about and a reminder of your interest in the role.

By following the advice above, you can be confident that you have done all you can to get the job you want and impress the interviewer. Good luck!