The interviewer simply wants to hear about your experience with plants that have died unexpectedly. Even if you could not identify the cause, think critically to see if you can come up with a possible explanation to share in your interview. The interviewer really wants to see that you are proactive and have troubleshooting capabilities.
"Yes, I noticed that our anise and sorrel did not do well when I was working in the greenhouse a couple of years ago. At the time we couldn't figure out what happened. We later learned that they were not getting enough sunlight or water because of where they were positioned in the greenhouse."
Now is a time to sell yourself! Give examples and share qualities that make you stand out above the rest. Explain how you meet the basic criteria and how you also exceed the qualifications through your impeccable communication skills or your ability to take initiative. Review the job description and reflect on some specific examples that show you are the most qualified for this role.
"I am knowledgeable about plant propagation with a variety of species, from trees and shrubs to fruits and vegetables. I have two years of experience in my own personal garden, a bachelor's in biology and a year of experience working in a greenhouse. I enjoy working in an environment where I am constantly learning and being challenged. I'm also a people-person and love talking to customers to help them better care for their plants."
Take some time to reflect on why you are interested in this position. You want to be clear about why you want to work at the company and what your specific goals are in relationship to the industry. Prepare yourself for these types of questions by writing out some of your goals for short and long-term. Picture yourself working in a greenhouse or a nursery and identify a goal that this job will help you work towards.
"I love working outside and with a team of people who are passionate about caring for plants. I have enjoyed practicing with my own garden and I want to learn more by working for your company."
You may be actively seeking a new job, and the interviewer wants to know why you are interested specifically in their company, over their competitors. To answer this clearly, you must do your research on the company. Write down three to five facts that stand out to you. Review their mission statement so that you have a clear understanding of what they do and why they do it. Consider talking about areas of their company vision that align with your interests and your goals.
"I'm interested in working for your greenhouse because I love your vegetable selection and I respect your environmentally conscious approach you take to growing fruits, vegetables and herbs."
Show off your plant knowledge by identifying a few shrubs you recommend for the average landscaping job. Explain why you think those plants are appealing to most homeowners. There is no wrong answer here. The interviewer just wants to see that you have a keen interest in plants.
"The Quartz Rose or the Quartz Burgundy Verbena are great options to add color. I also recommend the Purple Prince Butterfly Bush for those who like to attract butterflies and add a splash of color to their yard. Firelight Spiraea is also a great shrub for any yard because it is easy to maintain and also attractive to the eye."
The interviewer would like a broader scope of your experience in botany. Share a brief history about how you learned to care for plants. Whether you have a formal or informal education, you can discuss what you have learned, and be sure to touch on your current area of expertise.
"When I worked at a nursery this past year I learned about how to care for trees, grass, shrubs, and ground-cover plants. Many of my customers were landscapers, so I also learned a little bit about horticulture and how to create designs with plants in people's yards."
This is a casual question that allows the interviewer to get to know you a bit better. Share your favorite plants in whichever category you prefer. You may be interested in growing hybrid tomatoes or you may love growing herbs. Be sure to explain why you enjoy that particular species of plant and consider discussing your experience with the planting, blooming and flowering season.
"I enjoy the challenge of growing fruits and vegetables. My favorite plants are fruit trees. I grew up with peach trees in my yard and get excited during their blooming season."
The interviewer would like to know where your passion for plants comes from. You can share a brief story about what sparked your interest in working with plants. Talk about a few specific plants you have worked with in the past. Explain how you anticipate learning more while working for the greenhouse or nursery.
"My dad taught me how to mow the lawn and trim trees and bushes in our yard growing up. I started spending time with him in the garden as I got older and he taught me about how to grow tomatoes and green beans. We also had geraniums, lemon trees, and a herb garden. I still love learning about how to care for plants, and I'm excited about the opportunity to learn more when I work for your nursery!"
If you haven't experienced plant diseases in the past, do your research. You can learn about how fungi or bacteria impact a plant's water-conducting system and cause permanent wilting. You can also find out about natural and chemical treatments for plant diseases. Show off your knowledge of plants by giving an example of what you have learned from your experience.
"Recently, I noticed some wilting on my kale, so I did some investigation. It turned out that my kale and bok choy both had bacterial diseases. I treated the plants with apple cider vinegar and over a period of a couple of weeks I noticed significant improvement!"
Encouragement to others is a great skill to possess. Talk to the interviewer about your ability to encourage creative ideas in your team members.
"I like to encourage other people to be creative in their thinking and present ideas to the company, no matter how off the wall they may seem. Some of our most successful employees are ones who are confident in their ability to bring forward their unique ideas. I encourage participation through an open door policy and strong praise for those who show initiative."
As a leader, 'telling' and 'showing' are two very different things. Talk to the interviewer about how you personally put communication into action in the workplace.
"I show my co-workers the importance of communication through my willingness to ask questions if I do not understand the first time. I do not pretend to know something just to save face. By creating an environment where questions are encouraged, we have increased communication greatly, and have seen a healthier safety record as a result."
You may not know the answer to this. If this is your first job, how could you possibly know how long you'll be with the company! When you get hired into a new position, the company invests money into your training, office supplies and your paycheck. They want to know you're going to stick around! Rather than giving them a time frame, you may want to share your career goals. You can say, "I am working towards becoming a sales manager, and I would be thrilled to lead one of your teams here one day." By sharing you have a vested interest in the company, they will feel reassured that you are indeed going to stick around for a while.
"I am working towards becoming a sales manager, and I would be thrilled to lead one of your teams here one day."
A true creative minded person will have outside activities aside from what's happening in the workplace. Tell the interviewer about the variety of ways in which you express your creativity.
"Outside of work I like to attend dance classes and I also attend the odd paint and sip wine nights at a local wine shop. I also enjoy reading as a way of nurturing my creative side."
On a scale of 1-10, how skilled are you in communication? Why did you choose that particular rating for yourself?
"I rate my communication skills as a 9/10 as I will, on occasion, have times when I am not as clear as I would like to be. My supervisor and co-workers will attest to my clear and concise communication skills. Because I am an open leader, my team will let me know if I need to clarify anything."
The answer to this question should always be, yes! No matter where you work, you need to be a team player, to help your company achieve its goals. Be prepared with an energetic and enthusiastic, 'Yes, I am!' Expand on this answer by sharing your philosophy on the importance of teamwork and being an active part of a team. Show the interviewer you understand that it takes a group of people for a company to achieve its goals, and you recognize that each person is a piece of the puzzle.
"Yes, I love working and collaborating together as a team. There is so much knowledge to learn in the nursery business and it's awesome to have team members around you can answer questions if they have them and vice versa."
It's always a great idea to have questions ready for the interviewer. Review the company website and other online resources to ensure the questions you are asking are not mundane, or redundant. The last thing an interviewer wants to hear is a list of questions you could have found the answers to from simply watching a video on their company site! Here are some sample questions: - When would you like to have this position filled? - How long has this role been vacant? - Is this a replacement search or a newly created role? - What is your favorite part about working here? - What is the company's primary goal for this position in the next 12 months? - Is there anything from my background and experience that I can clarify for you? - What do you see as the biggest change in this industry over the past 3 years? - Is there any reason why you would not hire me?
The best way to discuss your salary expectations are to use your current earnings as an example. Be open, and honest. Transparency is the best choice when salary based questions arise.
"Currently, I earn $16 per hour plus overtime. Last year my earnings were $42,000 and I would like to stay in the same range or slightly higher."
Share what stands out to you after talking to employees, customers and researching online. You can learn a lot about a plant nursery or a greenhouse by looking at their website and reading customer reviews through websites like Yelp or Google.
"I like that you offer so many native plants and grow them all at your nursery. I was impressed that you have expanded so much since you first opened 10 years ago. I'm excited about the opportunity to work for you because you are constantly growing and offering wider varieties of plants and gardening classes to both employees and customers."
The interviewer wants to hear that you are truly interested in gardening. You may keep your knowledge strong through your hands-on experience in your backyard, or you may be the type of person who prefers reading publications and applying what you learn on the job. Share how you stay up to date and a little about what you have learned through your own research.
"I spend a lot of time in my own garden when I'm not working. I recently planted a vegetable garden, so I have been reading about growing lettuce, arugula, and eggplant. It's so interesting to me how different species of plants require different care. I've also done a lot of research on using organic fertilizer and pesticides."
Plant propagation is when new plants are created from seeds, bulbs, and other plant cuttings. Be sure to know this definition, because it is a term that greenhouses and nurseries use when referring to growing plants from different sources, start to finish. Show the interviewer that you have a strong understanding of basic plant terms.
"I do have some experience with plant propagation. I have grown plants from using their trimmings or starting out with the bulbs or seeds. I feel comfortable managing plant propagation in your greenhouse and I am open to learning new ways to create plants from different sources."
Depending on the greenhouse or nursery where you are interviewing, they may go organic or use traditional pesticides. Before your interview, take some time to learn about the company or farm to find out their mission and their preference for killing off insects that might interfere with the growing process.
"I prefer to be organic when possible; however, I understand the importance of keeping insects and pests away. At home, I use Neem Oil pesticide on my plants. It is an all purpose pesticide and has prevented mites and fungus from growing on my strawberries and watermelons."
Be sure to refresh yourself on terms like these before your interview. You will want to be able to give examples of each one while keeping your answer concise and showing the confidence in your basic plant knowledge.
"Perennials last through the winter and can live longer than two years. Biennials take longer to grow and flower, dying after their second growing season. Annuals go through a complete cycle of growing roots and producing a flower, dying at the end of the same season."
Working in a nursery or a greenhouse comes with its share of challenges. You will be working with such a large volume of trees, flowers, and herbs that you will need to be able to identify each one and keep track of inventory. Review the job description and identify which responsibilities may be most challenging for you. Be sure to discuss how you will overcome those challenges!
"I've only managed greenhouse inventory when managing a small farm. Since your farm is much larger, the volume of inventory will be much greater than what I have worked with in the past. I am confident that I can adapt quickly and stay organized. I also know that I can quickly transition from using traditional fertilizers to organic, and I'm excited to learn about growing plants in an environmentally friendly way."
Show the interviewer that you are knowledgeable about the science behind growing plants, fruit, vegetables and flowers. If you have experience growing hybrids, share what you have learned. If you are not familiar with the term, research different species of plants and learn about how hybrids differ from others.
"Yes. In my most recent role as a greenhouse manager, we grew hybrid tomatoes and peppers. Cross-pollinating plants is really interesting to me, especially when you end up with so many varieties of plants."
The interviewer is looking for a two to three-minute snapshot about you. They want to learn more about you in relationship to this particular job. Since you are interviewing to work in a nursery or greenhouse, focus on your education and experience related to nursery and greenhouse work. You may want to share some of your knowledge from gardening or working in plant nurseries. Be sure to explain why this job is relevant to your experience.
"I have been working in a plant nursery for the past two years and I have really enjoyed it so far. I was a biology major in college which led me to become more interested in permaculture and horticulture. I am a life-long student at heart and I'm always looking for ways to grow my knowledge."
The interviewer is testing your basic knowledge of plants. Be sure to know a few different plants that require more sun or shade. Before your interview, take some time to research plants and flowers in each of these categories if your gardening knowledge is limited.
"Hydrangea, Lily of the Valley, and English Ivy are some examples of plants that grow well in the shade. I have experience working with shade plants and understand the importance of giving them the right amount of shade, sun, and water to keep them healthy."
Everyone can be a team player so the answer to this question should always be 'yes!'. Explain to the interviewer that you work well on teams and give examples of how that has been true for you in past roles.
"Yes, I work well in teams! I really enjoyed my last position working at a nursery because we communicated effectively with each other. We all worked really hard and we had fun together at the same time. I am quick to help when one of my co-workers needs assistance and I am willing to take direction from others as well. I'm also willing to ask for help when I need it."
Working in a nursery or greenhouse requires organization and attention to detail. The interviewer wants to hear about the ways you keep yourself organized and efficient.
"I use spreadsheets, to-do lists, and my calendar, to keep track of inventory and important deadlines. When I'm working in the greenhouse, I make sure that all of the plants are organized by species and labeled in a way that is visible and makes sense to everyone."
It's important to be able to speak in a language that makes sense to your customers. The interviewer wants to hear that you enjoy speaking with customers and that you take pride in your work. Think of an example of a time when you helped a customer using your knowledge, expertise, and clear communication skills.
"I enjoy teaching others about what I've learned about plants. I want to help them understand the reasons why it's important to provide the specific needs of each plant. I listen to their questions and try to break down answers in a way that they can easily understand, no matter their level of experience."
Ready to care for plants? Working at a nursery or a greenhouse is a great place to learn and practice your gardening skills. Most businesses will provide on the job training, but it certainly helps to know a little bit about plants. Working in a greenhouse or nursery setting will require you to work outside and often in hot or rainy conditions. You will be performing manual labor, planting, harvesting and completing an inventory on a regular basis. Depending on the business, you may also have some interactions with customers, assisting them with purchases and educating them about how to care for their plants.
An interview at a plant nursery will focus on your overall knowledge and expertise in a variety of species of plants. They will also want to know about your experience using tools, machinery and how well you work with others on a team. By refreshing yourself on some of the basic terminologies and practicing with these interview questions, you can walk into your interview with more confidence in the qualities and skills you have to offer. Good luck!