Most of us have been on one side of the interview process—in the chair across from the hiring manager—but sitting in the other chair is a whole different ball game. Interviewing potential horse business employees might sound like a cakewalk, but you must treat this process as more than a formality.
You’ve already perused the candidate’s application or resume, but now you have to meet with him or her face-to-face. This is not only an opportunity to evaluate the applicant, but also to see how you might work together.
Make no mistake: Interviews are two-sided. You are interviewing the candidate while he or she interviews you.
I’ve already given you sample interview questions in past articles, so now I want to focus on the purpose and mission of the interview. What do you hope to accomplish? And how can you best serve your horse business as well as the candidate?
Let’s start with some truths:
Truth #1: Interviewees Lie to Get Jobs
Not all, certainly, but some job applicants will tell you what they think you want to hear. They might exaggerate their experience or claim awards or certifications they never actually received. This is a serious problem for the horse business owner because an applicant’s omission or lie can lead to safety hazards.
This means that horse business owners must rely on two things during an interview: 1) Facts they can verify later; and 2) Intuition. The first is easy to identify, while the second takes experience and confidence.
Look for subtle tells that might indicate an interviewee is lying, such as fidgeting with his hands or over-qualifying a statement. But most important, listen to what your gut is telling you. Are you comfortable with this person? Do you trust him or her?
Later, you can research the applicant if you think he or she might be a good fit. This might mean checking references or contacting organizations from which he or she might have received certification or awards.
Truth #2: The Interview is About the Applicant, Too
This means that you need to decide if the candidate is a good fit for the position and if the position will effectively utilize the candidate’s strengths.
You don’t want to hire an over-qualified professional for an entry-level position in which he or she might grow frustrated. This leads to high turnover in the horse business, which is never a good thing.
Determine whether the candidate will be a good fit for the culture and atmosphere at your barn. Will he fit in with other employees? Can you see her thriving in this position?
Make sure the job description and title are clear to the applicant. Go over his or her main responsibilities and invite questions after every segment of the interview. Don’t make your decision based exclusively on what you want from the candidate; think as well about what the candidate will expect from you.
Truth #3: Interviewers Lie to Attract Employees
Yes, there are two sides to the coin. If you expect honesty from the equestrian professionals you interview, it is extremely important that you offer that same honesty in return.
This means giving him or her the facts regarding the job. Don’t embellish benefits or try to make the position more attractive than it really is. The applicant will find out you lied and will probably quit anyway.
Be completely truthful about compensation, working conditions, responsibilities, and benefits. Don’t hold back any of the details and don’t give the candidate the wrong impression. This will come back to bite you.
Truth #4: There is No Right Way to Conduct an Interview
Every horse business owner has a different interview style, which is perfectly fine. You’ll find your rhythm and grow more comfortable with this process as time goes on.
If you prefer an informal interview, meet in a place where you are comfortable, such as the barn office or rec area. If you don’t like to take notes during interviews, leave the pen and notepad in your drawer.
There are no right answers, as you’ll soon discover, and interviews are most successful when both parties are themselves. Try not to over-think it or your nervousness will impede the interview process.