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Hiring for farm jobs in a COVID-19 world

Fewer in-person meetings, more video interviews: How to adjust your hiring process to fit the current pandemic climate.

With the COVID-19 pandemic leaving many farm managers, hiring managers, and human resources professionals working from home in social isolation, interviews have become a bit different. Health officials say handshakes may become a thing of the past. Meeting candidates in person is highly discouraged.

How can you adjust your interviewing process to fit the current pandemic climate and still achieve your farm’s goals?

The most obvious answer is to switch to video interviews. To some employers in agribusiness, this process is nothing new, but to others, utilizing technology like Zoom or GoToMeeting is unfamiliar territory. Learn to use these platforms by calling your colleagues or even family members and meeting with them virtually. Better yet, meet with someone who is familiar with the software and can share tips and tricks with you. You’ll quickly find that these programs can create a high-quality interviewing experience that will help you evaluate candidates as you would in-person.

Tech updates

While getting familiar with video call technology, it is recommended that to achieve the best experience possible for yourself and your candidates, you make sure that all technology is equipped and running smoothly. Secure your internet connection and consider hard-wiring yourself in with an ethernet cable. This will ensure that your video call has the highest, most secure quality.

Don’t forget to test your microphone and get familiar with the sound tools available on your platform. Consider conducting a test run prior to an interview to see if technology is cooperating.

To create the most effective and professional interview experience, interview how you normally would in the office or in person. Dress as you would—whether that means business casual or khakis and a polo. Speak and interact as you would with an applicant or candidate.

Open the interview with some small talk and banter to create a comfortable atmosphere. Perhaps differently from an in-person interview, however—choose a clean and well-lit area to conduct your interview. This will prevent distractions for your interviewee. Sitting against a blank wall is ideal.

Body language clues

If you’re uncertain about video interviewing for the first time and are wondering if a phone call would be easier, know that there is much lost when solely conducting interviews over the phone. Video interviewing allows you to get another view into your candidates’ personalities and non-verbal cues. Body language speaks as loudly as words and if you cannot see your applicants, you will be missing out on telling information.

Take comfort in knowing that everyone is in unfamiliar territory during this pandemic. Just know that agriculture is most definitely still needed. Adjusting your interviewing techniques will allow your organization to continue growing and prospering.

The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Farm Progress. 

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