How to Tailor Your Interview Questions Per Role

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11 Minute Read
Posted by Lila Huelster
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Why is it important to tailor your interview questions? 

While interviewing would be a much simpler task if you used the same script of questions for every candidate, a one-size-fits-all approach is not likely to be effective when hiring for your farm or ag business. Tailoring your interview questions per role is the best way to accurately vet candidates by asking only the most relevant questions that relate to the job they are interviewing for.  

How to tailor interview questions by role 

1. Understand the Role 

As an interviewer, understanding the ins and outs of the position you’re hiring for is the first step in ensuring you’re asking candidates the right questions.  

Use the job description to your advantage to get a basic understanding of the role, but don’t rely solely on it. If you, as the hiring manager, will not work closely with this hire, meet with an employee who will, or an employee in the same position (if there are multiple individuals with this title). Use them as a resource to gather more information on the position, including: 

  • The day-to-day tasks and responsibilities 
  • Team structure (who this hire reports to, collaborates with, and any direct reports) 
  • Required technical skills  
  • Education or certifications required 
  • Personality traits that would make them successful 
  • What training will look like 
  • Working environment 
  • Any travel requirements  
  • Growth or advancement opportunities  
  • Compensation, bonus/commission, and benefits information

Having the most possible knowledge about the position will equip you to ask the right questions and accurately vet the candidate. Plus, you will be better able to describe the position to candidates and answer their questions. If you don’t know the basics of the position or are unable to answer most of the candidates’ questions, your lack of knowledge could potentially turn them off from the role. 

Once you have all the bases covered, there’s still a chance a candidate may ask you a question you don’t know the answer to. In this case, be honest with the candidate that you don’t know the answer but will find out and follow back up. The worst thing you can do in this situation is assume and tell the candidate inaccurate information about their potential future role. 

2. Identify Core Competencies  

Core competencies include the skills, knowledge, and abilities that would deem someone successful for the job. Understanding and developing questions around the core competencies for each position you interview for ensures you hone in on those skills in an interview to understand if each candidate is fully qualified. Make sure you outline both hard and soft skills necessary to be successful in this position.  

If you were interviewing farm manager candidates, some core competencies may include team leadership, agronomy/technical knowledge, and time management. Develop your questions accordingly to address each of those core competencies. 

 

3. Create an Ideal Candidate Profile 

Work with your team to develop an ideal candidate profile for each role you hire for. In addition to the job description, a document outlining the ideal candidate can help you further tailor your interview questions and find the right person for the job.   

This candidate profile should include the experience, skills, education/training, personality traits, and culture fit that your company feels is ideal for the role. Ensure that multiple team members are involved in crafting these profiles to avoid bias and create a stronger, more accurate tool for your hiring process. Continue to refine these profiles over time as needed.  

The ideal candidate profile serves as a strong base for vetting candidates and keeps you focused on what your agribusiness is looking for. You can use these profiles repeatedly when developing interview questions to guide consistent, successful hires.  

4. Tailor Behavioral Questions 

Behavioral-style interview questions are designed to ask candidates to share details about specific scenarios in the workplace. These questions help an employer gauge some of the soft skills of the candidate and how they navigate certain situations.  

Tailoring behavioral style questions to make them relevant to each position is a great way to further vet ag candidates beyond their skills and qualifications. Asking these questions will help you understand how the candidate handles scenarios in the workplace that relate to their position and give you a glimpse into their personality.  

 For example, if you are interviewing candidates for an agriculture sales position, tailor your behavioral questions strategically to better understand scenarios they have encountered as a salesperson. Behavioral-style interview questions tailored for sales may sound something like these: 

  • Tell me about a time when you negotiated with a difficult customer.
  • Tell me about the most challenging sale you’ve closed. How did you overcome the challenges?
  • Tell me about a time when you lost out on a large deal. How did you handle that? 

While basic behavioral questions such as “Tell me about a time you failed and what you learned from it” can still be effective, the more you tailor each question to the role, the further you will uncover the candidate’s potential fit.   

5. Differentiate Required vs. Preferred Qualifications  

When developing your interview questions, prioritize the required qualifications for each role, while keeping the preferred, but not required, qualifications in the back of your mind.  

If a position requires 3+ years of ag sales experience, experience selling through a distribution network, and CRM experience, you will want to prioritize asking questions that are tailored to those requirements. Qualifications that are preferred but not required, or are considered a “plus”, should still be hit on during the interview, but avoid spending too much time on these.  

Conclusion 

While it will take some extra time and effort to tailor your interview questions for each role you’re hiring for, the results will speak for themselves. Tailoring your interview questions can help you find the right hire the first time and improve your retention rate, setting your farm up for future success.  

At AgHires, we work hard to provide farms and agribusinesses with only the best hiring tips from our team of recruitment experts. Discover more agriculture HR and hiring advice here. 

AgHires offers full-service recruiting, job posting packages, and custom solutions for employers across the entire ag supply chain. To learn more about how AgHires can help hire top talent for your agriculture business, check out our Hiring Services or set up a meeting 

A one-size-fits-all approach is not effective when interviewing candidates. Discover our top tips for tailoring your interview questions per role to find the right hire the first time and set your ag business up for success.
Lila Huelster

Lila Huelster

Lila Huelster is the Marketing Coordinator at AgHires. Her long-time interest in agriculture led her to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Agribusiness Communications where she graduated from Southeast Missouri State University. Lila spent her first two years with AgHires as a Recruiter, with a prior background in social media marketing and copywriting. At AgHires, she is passionate about using her recruiting and marketing expertise to create helpful resources for employers and job seekers across the industry.