Your CV and application form has impressed and you’ve made it through the paper sift – congratulations! It’s time to move on to the next challenge: the interview.
But how best to prepare for a job interview in the agribusiness sector? Hunter Chase director and agribusiness recruitment specialist Brian Hutchison offers his advice.
1. Do your homework
“These days there’s so much information available online that there’s no excuse for not being properly prepared,” says Brian.
“A client wants to be certain of the candidate’s interest in the role, and familiarity with the company’s history and values and so on is a good way to demonstrate this.”
But doing some research it isn’t just an exercise in looking impressive.
“Take a look at Companies House and LinkedIn. Explore the financial status of the business and see what you can find out about the interviewer. You never know what might prove interesting or useful.”
2. Have a personal sales pitch ready
Candidates are often asked to go through their CV in interviews, with a particular focus on education and professional experience. But reading it through line by line isn’t good practice – in fact, it’s tedious.
“Be able to summarise your CV succinctly without looking at it and save your eye contact for the interviewer,” says Brian. “Most importantly, be able to relate your experience directly to the role you’re interviewing for.
“Tell the interviewer how your career to date has helped you to develop the specific knowledge and skills they’re looking for. And always have pertinent examples ready to discuss.”
3. Look the part
Dress codes still cause some consternation amongst candidates, but Brian has some straightforward advice.
“For men, a suit isn’t always necessary,” he says. “Depending on the nature of the role and the style of interview, a shirt, tie and sports jacket could suffice.
“If you last wore a suit at your aunt’s wedding ten years ago and it’s going to make you uncomfortable, go for this slightly more relaxed option. Also, it sounds traditional, but go clean-shaven – in my experience, a 5 o’clock shadow generally doesn’t impress.”
And women should aim for smart but comfortable, he says: “Sensible country wear is always a good option: a shirt or smart top, jacket and skirt or trousers.
“Leave fussy details and uncomfortable shoes at home, particularly if there’s a practical assessment or more hands-on element to the interview.”
4. Don’t forget about non-verbal communication
We all know the importance of a strong handshake and making eye contact, but there are other small adjustments you can make to your body language to impress interviewers.
“If it’s a panel interview, it’s tempting to fixate on the person who asked the question when giving your answer, but try to take in the whole panel. Use gestures that convey your attentiveness and sincerity – think open palms and nodding as you’re listening.”
5. Remember it’s a two-way process
Reminding yourself that an interview isn’t an interrogation but also a way to establish if the company is a good fit for you can help with nerves.
“Go in with some questions prepared,” says Brian. “How does the interviewer see this role developing? What training opportunities does the organisation offer? What’s their idea of a perfect candidate? Bring in a notebook and pen and jot down some notes if you feel the need.”
“Also, don’t be afraid to say ‘I’m not sure’ or ‘I don’t have an answer for that’ – but use it as an opportunity to show some initiative, for example: ‘I’m not sure about that, but I think I could find the answer by…’.”
Searching for your perfect agribusiness position? Get in touch for a confidential conversation about your next professional step.