Tips for interviewing for ag industry positions

Students looking for a career in the agriculture industry often start out with an internship. At the recent Ohio Farm Bureau Young Ag Professionals conference in Columbus, many of those soon-to-be applicants learned what they can do to find the right opportunity for them.

In one of the conference’s many workshops, panelists Stacy O’Diam of Farm Credit Mid-America, Zach Hetterick of Archbold Equipment and Scott Bell of Nationwide Insurance shared their experiences when searching for job candidates for internships in the ag industry. Some of their top tips include:

  • The Basics: Send a complete resume, one-page. Many internship applications are only available online. If you are called for an interview, be on time. Dress appropriately and professionally. Know the name of the person you are meeting with and know what you should have with you when you speak with them – a copy of your resume and a list of references are a couple items to bring to the meeting. Good references include teachers from school, supervisors from a part-time job or ag professionals for whom you’ve done volunteer or paid work.
  • Highlight Skills: As an intern you may not have paid agricultural experience under your belt, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have skills that employers find attractive. For example, if you’ve served as treasurer for a fraternity or sorority at school, list that experience. If you’ve chaired an event at the student union for an organization on campus, make that known and be prepared to talk about those experiences and what you learned from them. Make sure to highlight any skill that is beneficial to have in the position you have applied for but make sure you are secure in your knowledge of that skill. A resume is not the place to embellish skills and experience that you don’t really possess.
  • Highlight Education: You’re coming into this internship interview with lots of education so why bury it at the bottom on your resume. Recruiters often have dozens and dozens of candidates to consider for one internship position. They are looking for the top potential interns and when they are available to begin working with them. Know what job you are applying for – is it a paid or unpaid internship or an actual paid position within the company. Hiring managers also want to know right away when the person who applied would be available to begin working for them, so put that date close to the top of the resume as well.
  • Ask Questions: Interviewers can detect a lot about a person’s interest in a position based on the questions a candidate asks them about the job. Dig into the specifics of the job you are applying for. Ask not only what the day-to-day responsibilities are, but details about those responsibilities. It’s OK to ask about the possibilities of advancement or even full-time employment following an internship with the company. Ask about the culture of the business. Do people stay a long time or is there a lot of turnover. Why? Depending on the answers to these kinds of questions you may decide the company or the job isn’t the right fit for you, and that is OK, too.
  • Do Your Research: Year after year internships go unfilled because either no one applied for them or no qualified candidates did. Apply, apply, apply. Dig deep into a company you are interested in working for and call it. Ask what internships are available. Ask your friends what they have seen or heard about. Ask adults you know who have any connection to the agriculture industry for recommendations. The further you expand your network the wider net you are casting to find the right opportunity to begin your professional future in agriculture.

Check out highlights of the 2016 Young Ag Professionals Leadership Experience.


If you are age 18 to 24 and a farmer or your job is directly impacted by the health of Ohio agriculture, then become a young active member for just $25. Have a voice in Farm Bureau’s advocacy efforts, vote on policy positions, and enjoy discounts on Nationwide Insurance products and other products and services essential to the farm and food community. Plus, participate in a vibrant Young Ag Professionals program.