Farming is experiencing a second boom in the 21st century. Without a doubt, big producers still dominate the market, but each year more and more consumers start to pay attention to the origin of their food, and prefer buying local produce from smaller farms, or even from individual producers. Working on a farm is also gaining popularity, at least in a specific minority group of people who are tired of spending endless hours in front of their computer screen. They want to work outside, and feel a connection with nature. You can join their ranks as a farm manager.
Interviewing for the position, hiring managers (or farm owners) will inquire mostly about your motivation, experience with similar type of work, and attitude to various situations that can happen on a farm, on any given day–problems with employees, animals, crops, documentation, or anything else one has to deal with on a farm.
Let’s have a look at some questions you may face in your interview. Do not forget to do also a good research about your future place of work, such as the livestock and crops they produce, how many people work there (at least approximately), and similar. These information will help you to connect with your interviewers, and also find good answers to certain questions they may ask you.
Why do you want to work as a farm manager?
Farm managers earn less money than managers in other sectors of economy. You should definitely talk about your preference to work on a farm, outdoors, with animals and plants, simply managing the “production of food”, instead of some corporate hustle. Try to speak with some enthusiasm in your voice, to make sure they’d have no reason to doubt the authenticity of your words.
You can refer to your working experience as well–be it a managerial experience from some other place, or an experience working on a farm. They will likely ask about it later anyway. Of course, you can also mention a couple of strengths that make from you a good candidate for the job–at least in your opinion. Planning and organization skills, interpersonal skills, ability to motivate people in poorly paid jobs, and, of course, your relation to this type of work, are just some of the strengths you can mention.
Can you please tell us more about your previous working experience?
The most important thing here is to convince them that your experience is relevant–regardless of what you’ve done before. Let me explain.
Maybe you have never worked on a farm before. But you’ve managed corporate teams, or a team in a small retail store. You solved conflicts of people, had to meet deadlines, do the paperwork and stuff. You’ll be responsible for the same things on the farm, just the goods and people will change. Hence you believe to be ready, though certainly you’ll need some help from your colleagues at the beginning.
Or, another scenario–you’ve worked on a farm before, but not as a manager. Maybe you worked as a zootechnician, or had some other role with the animals, or perhaps you supervised one of the teams. In such a case you can say that you know how things work on a farm, common problems that may happen on a daily basis–because you experienced them first hand in your previous job, and you definitely feel ready to manage to operation from now on.
How do you imagine a typical day at work as our farm manager?
At this point you should benefit from the research you did before the interview. The most important thing is to show realistic expectations, and to ensure them that you do not want to spend all day in your comfy office. Without a doubt, you’ll have a lot of paperwork to do, emails, phone calls, and all the stuff mangers take care of.
However, you will also spend a lot of time in the stables or on the fields, talking to workers, supervising them, making sure that everyone delivers, and solve any problems that may occur in the operation of a farm (problems with machinery, with people, with rules and regulations, or with anything else).
Obviously the exact scope of your duties depends on the size of the farm, number of employees, what exactly they produce, how many administrative workers are employed on the farm, and so on, and so forth. Job description and your research should give you a good idea of a typical day on that farm. As long as you show at least somehow realistic expectations, and a proactive approach to work, they will be satisfied with your answer.
Most farm workers earn minimum wage. How do you plan to motivate them to try hard regardless of the poor payout?
You really won’t have as many options of motivating people as you’d have managing a team in a corporation. However, it does mean that you won’t have any options…
You can say that you will try to build a good atmosphere on the farm, an environment where people trust each other, and have good relationships. In such a case they will work harder, simply because they will feel the responsibility towards their colleagues.
You can also talk about going by example. Instead of sitting in your office all day long, you’ll spend at least a couple of hours each day outside, checking the workers at their stations, ensuring that they are actually working, and maybe even offering them a helping hand (when possible), so they see that you aren’t afraid of manual labor and can help them with a heavy workload.
Another alternative is saying that you will set clear key performance indicators for each employee on a farm, which will help you to monitor who works hard and who fails to meet the expectations, and needs some intervention from your side…
How would you make sure to maximize the yields of the crops?
I am not a farmer, so cannot go into technical details with this answer. However, if you did your research you know what crops they grow there, and what type of agriculture they focus on (intensive, sustainable, hybrid), and should be able to explain some steps you can take from a position of a manager to maximize the yields.
You can even break it down to individual crops, explaining your strategy for each one, or pointing out some areas for improvement. As long as they see that you have some ideas, and want to help them maximize their produce, they will be satisfied with your answer.
Some other questions you may face in your farm manager interview
- What is your experience with planting (irrigation, chemical application, harvesting, grading, payroll, other activity)?
- Tell us your definition of a successful farm.
- What are your strategies of finding new customers for the farm?
- Tell us about a time when you felt overwhelmed with work.
- Describe a conflict you had with someone in one of your last jobs.
- What motivates you the most in this job?
- What are your salary expectations?
- Do you have any questions.
Conclusion, next steps
Interview for a job of a farm manager belongs to easier job interviews. This isn’t a fancy job title, and you typically won’t compete with many people for the job. What is more, they typically won’t ask you any difficult technical or behavioral questions. As long as you know your field, and have some experience with this type of work, and get ready for the questions, you should manage to pass this one and get the job. I wish you good luck!
May also interest you:
- Club Manager interview questions.
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- 15 most common interview questions & answers – Learn how to answer the questions you may get interviewing for any job. Questions such as “What are your weaknesses?”, “Where do you see yourself in five years from now?”, and similar.