Employer Interviewing Tips

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Your recruiting process should provide you with a lot of information about your applicants. Information may be gleaned from a variety of sources including:

  • Details from application forms;
  • Details from covering letters;
  • Details from resumes;
  • Information and impressions from formal face to face or telephone interviews;
  • Impressions formed whilst showing the applicants around the farm;
  • Impression formed by other employees or family members;
  • Information from functionality and aptitude tests;
  • Evidence of any qualifications or licences (if held);
  • School results/reports
  • Reports from referees; and
  • Your intuition or gut feeling.

To select the most appropriate person for the apprenticeship you might need to:

  1. Refer back to your job specification and duty and accountability statements, and your thoughts on the type of person you are looking for;
  2. Consider all the information that has been gathered about the applicants in the light of the apprenticeship requirements and the job; and
  3. Be conscious of any prejudices which may cloud your judgment.

Consider/ascertain the following:

  • If the applicant has any previous work history, have they previously been dependable and productive and has their attitudes towards work, fellow workers, and supervision been OK?
  • Has the applicant, in any capacity, previously displayed that they can take responsibility?
  • Does the applicant understand what is involved in both the job and apprenticeship?
  • Does the applicant have the commitment required to complete the apprenticeship?
  • Have you got enough information about the applicant to either short list or disregard them? If not then perhaps request specifics.
  • Are they lacking in any regard and what, if any are their weaknesses? Would these be a big problem for them in the job or apprenticeship? Would training help them overcome these weaknesses?

You are looking for a person who:

  • Meets the requirements of the job specification;
  • Has the right temperament for the job and to undertake an apprenticeship;
  • Has the physical attributes required to do the job;
  • Has the overall potential to be able to do the job;
  • Looks like they would fit in; and
  • Have references which reassure you about their suitability and character.

What happens if none of the applicants are suitable?

At this point it may be very obvious who you should employ as your Australian Apprentice. Alternatively you may be in a quandary? Consider the following:

I didn’t get anyone who fitted the bill or who I felt comfortable about offering an apprenticeship to.Don’t employ the wrong person and end up in all sorts of trouble; remember, an apprenticeship is a commitment for both you and the apprentice. Perhaps widen your search, advertise in a different way; there’s sure to be a suitable apprentice out there somewhere.
The applicant I liked best doesn’t really have any skills. I was hoping to find someone with at least some; they could probably learn them, but…In many ways personality and fitting in are the most important issues. Skills and knowledge can be learned but attitude and personality are pretty fixed. Since you are planning to recruit an apprentice, consider whether you feel the applicant you prefer could learn the skills required. Most important for you is whether the applicant is interested and able to learn new skills…
There was one applicant I really liked but he’s really not up to the job. Nice kid, but…Of course it’s of great benefit if you like your apprentice, but don’t employ someone if they do not have the capacity to do the job. It will be stressful for you and them. Remember again the commitment of an apprenticeship for you and them. Better that they find something else for which they are more suited and you locate a capable apprentice.
One applicant had quite a deal of skills and potential but I don’t have a good feeling about her. We didn’t really ‘click’.It is important that you and your apprentice get on. Your gut instincts are important. However, you also need to consider very carefully your own motives if you have reservations about someone. Did you have a man in mind when a woman seems to be the best applicant? Your concerns may be a product of prejudice and may be in breach of discrimination laws. What do other people on the farm feel? What did the referees say? Remember, there is initially the probationary period which gives you both a chance to make sure of each other.
I had several really good applicants. I wish I could employ them all.Very fortunate. You do of course eventually have to choose one. Ask the applicants if they mind you holding onto their details. You may be looking for someone else in the future and they may be interested to hear about other apprenticeships/jobs. Or you may hear of other farmers looking for workers and may be able to pass on the applicants’ contact details.

Once you have made a decision…

Make a short list

Make a short list of the top two or three applicants for the job. You should feel that you’d be happy with any one of them to varying degrees. If your first choice turns down your offer of the apprenticeship/job you can then contact your second or third choice.

Informing successful applicants

Employers often telephone the successful applicant with an offer of work. But, don’t presume the applicant will accept. They may have decided that they are not interested in the apprenticeship/job. Or they may be interested if they can negotiate on terms and conditions, or start dates etc. Here’s an example of what to say:

“I would like to offer you the opportunity to work for me on a casual basis for three to four weeks, after which time you may be offered a Rural Australian Apprenticeship on my farm or enterprise, subject to us agreeing on terms and conditions.”

Terms and conditions should have been discussed at interview but should now be put in writing.

See the attachments section to view examples of letters making offer of employment.

If the applicant wants to negotiate with you, that’s fine. Don’t feel rushed into making a decision. You need time to consider their suggestion. Ring them back when you have had time to think about how their suggestions would impact upon your whole farm. You may have another suggestion which might be mutually acceptable. Hammering out these issues at the start is important. It prevents these sorts of things causing concern after the person has started the job.

Informing unsuccessful applicants

You should reply to all applicants.
If you have people you definitely don’t want to employ you can inform them immediately that their application was unsuccessful. Notify each applicant, by confidential letter or email.

Do not inform your short listed applicants of the outcome of the interviews until you are sure you have someone for the apprenticeship/job. You need to keep them ‘as insurance’. If your first choice turns the job down you will need to make your offer to the next on the list.

Sometimes unsuccessful applicants will phone you for feedback on their application. They may want to know why they didn’t get the apprenticeship/job. Don’t be threatened by this. Often people find it difficult to understand where they are going wrong with their applications. Honest, but sensitive feedback can be very helpful.


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