1. Can you tell me a little about yourself?
This is typically one of the first things a recruiter or hiring manager will ask, and it’s not a trick question; it’s simply to get to know you!
Though this question seems simple enough, talking about yourself on the spot is not always as easy as it sounds. Practice answering this type of question beforehand, as this conversation sets the tone for the rest of the interview. Keep it relatively short to avoid rambling and be sure to touch on your prior agriculture background, education, and most recent work experiences.
2. What is your greatest weakness?
Recruiters or hiring managers ask this question to become familiar with your honesty and self-awareness. Candidates often assume that their answer needs to be portrayed as a desirable quality to the employer, such as “I am a perfectionist, so I tend to care too much about my work”, but this is not the case.
Avoid answers such as:
“I struggle to wake up to my morning alarm, so sometimes I show up late to work.”
“I’m not a people-person, so I prefer not to work in a collaborative environment.”
Instead, formulate your answer by balancing honesty and professionalism, and conclude with how you are working to improve this attribute. Here is an example:
“I tend to bite off more than I can chew and take on extra tasks, which leads me to sometimes miss deadlines. I am learning how to better manage my time and only take on the number of projects I know I can give my full attention to.”
3. Why should we choose you for this role?
This is your chance to highlight your most relevant experiences and what makes you qualified for this particular ag role. The hiring manager wants to know what sets you apart from other candidates, so use this time to brag on yourself a bit! Think in terms of your abilities, experiences, education, and personal traits.
“I feel that my extensive background in the agriculture industry and strong leadership skills make me the right person for the Farm Manager position. I grew up on an 800-acre farm growing a variety of row crops and took over the operation after graduating with my Crop Science Degree in 2014. I hold my PCA license, have experience managing a large team of contractors, developing budgets, and am very analytic-driven.”
4. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
This question helps the hiring manager better understand your future goals.
If your answer implies that you’re not likely to stay with the company long-term because you want to start your own agriculture business, for example, it may hinder your chances of being hired. Answer this question in a way that paints a picture of your professional goals and future plans, so the hiring manager can identify if you are a good fit for the position and its particular demands.
5. How have you handled a conflict or disagreement with a co-worker?
This behavioral style interview question can be very tricky if you do not have an answer prepared. Think of an example that results in a positive outcome where the conflict was resolved. Remain professional and be sure to put your ego aside. When speaking with a potential future employer, you certainly want to avoid coming across as difficult to work with.
To end in a positive manner, touch on what you learned from this experience.
If you have never endured a conflict in the workplace (or cannot think of a strong example), simply answer by walking through the approach you would use.
Here is an example:
“When faced with a conflict, I would work to understand my coworker’s perspective by asking questions and remaining calm. This would ensure that my coworker feels they’re being heard, which makes it much easier to come to an agreement without evoking negative feelings.”
6. How do you handle stress and deadlines at work?
Everyone handles stress differently, and the hiring manager simply wants to understand your approach. Do you perform well under pressure, or tend to shut down when you get overwhelmed? Use a specific example by referencing a past project or accomplishment in which you have successfully managed those stressors.
7. How do you define success?
There is no right or wrong answer, for the meaning of success looks different to everyone based on their values, career, and goals. The recruiter will ask this question to get a better idea of your work ethic and motivation to meet your goals. While still being true to your own definition of success, aim to align your answer with the employer's needs to prove that you will be a valuable asset to their team.
“To me, success is making a difference in other people’s lives. I take pride in being able to provide quality crops that feed families in my community and managing my team to be as efficient as possible to do so.”
8. What was the reason for leaving your last position?
Explaining gaps in your work history or why you left a job can sometimes feel uncomfortable. The hiring manager’s goal is to simply “connect the dots” of your work history and ensure there are no red flags in your ag career transitions. Being honest is your best bet but avoid speaking negatively about your previous employer.
Answers to avoid:
“I didn’t like my boss, so I decided to quit.”
“They didn’t pay me enough.”
Leaving a company to seek a higher-paying position is a common reason for a transition, but the way you explain this is more important than the actual matter. Instead of speaking negatively regarding the pay you received from your employer, try something such as:
“In order to better support my lifestyle and the rising costs of living in California, I decided to resign from my role as an agronomy sales rep and began seeking more managerial roles in the agriculture industry that would provide a higher base salary.”
9. Can you tell me about a time you overcame adversity?
This is your chance to prove to the interviewer that you can persevere and overcome challenges that come your way in the workplace and in your personal life.
Individuals in the agriculture industry are used to facing a variety of challenges such as unpredictable weather and the ever-changing market, which can serve as great starting points to answer this question. Choose a specific scenario and provide context to walk the interviewer through the situation and how you overcame it.
10. What critical feedback do you most often receive?
A recruiter may ask this question to identify whether you listen to and positively accept the feedback you receive. Ultimately, they want to discover how dedicated you are to working on yourself, with the hope that you are improvement-oriented. When answering this question, the key is to address how you use that feedback to improve.
Recruiters, hiring managers, and ag employers ask difficult interview questions with the goal to discover if you are a good fit for their company and a specific role. These questions provide them with a well-rounded view of your work ethic, goals, strengths and weaknesses, and overall personality.
If you struggle during your interview, don’t be discouraged. Take a deep breath and remember, that the interviewer is a person, just like you. The more often you interview, the easier these questions will become to answer.
For other interview and job search tips, check out our Career Advice Blog.
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