The extra something farm vet interviewers look for

Written by: Tim Potter
Published on: 30 Jun 2021

Image: © Tim Potter / Adobe Stock

Image: © Monkey Business / Adobe Stock

We all know interviews can be a stressful process. In this article, I will hopefully give some insight into the interviewers’ perspective and what we are looking to get out of the process.

In simplest terms, we are looking for someone who will fit well within our team, and whose aims and aspirations align with our business objectives – and the needs of our clients.

Central to this is communication and your ability to interact with people. This is something we will pay attention to throughout the interview process – from the moment you arrive at the practice, through more formal interviews and if you are spending time out on farm as part of the process. We’ll be assessing how you interact with our clients and other members of the team.

Key farm skills

We will always ask about clinical competencies, as this is a key part of understanding how you will fit into the day-to-day running of the business. Frequently, this will be around key skills such as fertility work (pregnancy diagnosis, for instance), surgeries (for example, caesarean sections and left displaced abomasum correction) and the ability to deal with common emergencies.

Be honest when answering these questions – nothing can be gained by either party if you oversell yourself. We would much rather support and work with the right candidate to address specific training needs than find ourselves in a situation where people end up out of their depth.

We invest heavily in supporting and developing our teams, from new graduates all the way up to experienced clinicians, and the discussion at interview about clinical competencies is often the first step in identifying what will be required to ensure your development.

Competency-based interviews

Alongside the more traditional discussions on clinical skills, we have adopted the use of competency‑based interviews, as they offer valuable insights into an individual’s preferred style of working and help to predict behaviours in future situations.

In these, we will ask candidates to provide situational examples from their life experiences to illustrate core competencies (such as communication skills, dealing with difficult situations or leadership).

When approaching the answering of these types of questions, take your time – there is nothing wrong with taking a pause to think, or seeking clarification on the question. The common error many candidates make is just going on and on, hoping to make a good point eventually. Short, succinct answers that truly demonstrate your qualities are much better.

Sector knowledge

Competency interviews may also feature questions that probe your knowledge of the company and the farming sector. The workload within farm animal practices varies geographically, and it is essential that what the practice can provide matches up with what the candidate is looking for. So, understanding the local geography and predominant farm type is going to be key.

Looking to the future, we will also be interested in your career motivation and long-term aspirations. Retaining the right people in our business is key for long-term success, so we are keen to understand what you are looking for in the future in terms of development (for example, further qualifications or management responsibility), so having an idea about this is always good.

Two-way processes

Finally, remember the interview is a two-way process and should enable you to understand whether a practice is a good fit for you.

If it has not come up in the rest of the interview, always ask about the support you will be given and the development opportunities you will have, as well as the normal things such as rotas.

  • This article was previously available exclusively to job seekers who had completed their Vet Times Jobs Skills Match profiles. To find out more about the service, visit