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Four questions to ask before you hire someone

Lori Culler Published on 28 October 2013

Most farm managers admit that finding and selecting people is one of the most difficult parts of the job. They realize the importance of it, but are not always confident in their ability to identify which ones are right for the hire. In the past, experience alone would have been the deciding factor, but I am here to tell you that is not the best method for making your pick.

You can analyze a candidate to death with thousands of interview questions, screening questionnaires, reference checking and even intelligence tests. After you have done all that upfront screening, how does one make that final decision? There are four questions I ask myself before putting together an offer packet.



1. Do they have the skills to do the job?
This doesn’t mean they have to have a long resume with years of experience. Do they have the skills and ability to do the job that is open? They might not have the exact experience, but if they have transferrable experience that is somewhat aligned, that might be a strong fit.

Think about what really matters for an admin; do they have to have Quickbooks, or do they simply have to be extremely detailed and strong on the computer?

Whenever I read a job description, I often question what is listed in the qualification section. In most cases, I question if all that is listed there is in fact a true requirement. Bring it back to the basics: What are you really looking for and does this person have those skills?

Even for management level positions, all-stars have been successfully put in places who don’t even have ag backgrounds. The reason they are succeeding is they have the right skills, such as managing people, being process oriented and understanding mechanical operations.

2. Do they have the inherent traits?
This is a big one for me. We all have inherent traits; these are natural behaviors and gifts that are inherent in us and are often difficult to train. It’s often those traits that make someone an all-star at a particular role versus just good. For successful sales hires, the top performers are born with a fire in the belly, are naturally competitive and possess those likable personalities everyone wants to be around.


You could send me to all sorts of sales training, but I wouldn’t even come close to what those inherently strong sales guys can do naturally. In case you have your doubts, I will share a story about an old colleague of mine who has done very well in her career.

She was in the process of interviewing for an executive position for a well-known company. Part of her interview process was being screened by a clinical psychologist. What on earth were they looking for? You guessed it; they wanted to know if she had the inherent personality traits and psychological resources to do great in the executive role she was considering.

3. Will they like it?
Employees perform their highest and remain in their positions the longest when they like what they are doing and feel they are contributing to the team. Dig deep in the interview process. Are they just taking a position or do they really want your position?

I may really like a candidate and want him or her on our team, but if they are not that excited to be there, both sides will be disappointed. How do you screen for this? Ask them what they are looking for in their next career move. What is going to get them excited to get up and go to work every day?

Consider asking them what their favorite roles were in the past. Make sure you understand what motivates them and compare that to what the job offers.

4. Will they fit?
Culturally, will they fit into your organization? You want diversification on the team to give different perspectives. It would not be very beneficial to hire everyone that thought exactly like you, but on the same hand, they do have to fit in within the culture. If your culture is consensus driven, then you want someone who can collaborate well with the team.


You can hire what you believe to be an all-star, but if they can’t get along with your current team members it is a recipe for disaster. I recommend having as many key people in the organization interview the candidate, and always more than one interview in more than one setting.

Meet them at the office for one interview, maybe the field for a second interview and maybe for lunch for the final interview.You need to see them in different environments. If you have concerns they will not fit in with the current culture, no matter how great their background, pass and keep looking.

For your next hire, do as much screening as possible. Then, right before the final decision, take a pulse check on those four questions as the deciding factor. PD


Lori Culler
AgProvise Consulting