Hiring is hard, yet necessary. Few things are more important to the sustainability of a ministry than hiring the right people. Nevertheless, hiring the right people is difficult while finding the wrong ones is easier than catching the common cold.
According to Craig Groeschel, the potential of an organization rests on the strength of its people. If this is true, it’s vital for the Church to hire well. Unfortunately, hiring a team is not something generally covered in Seminary. I didn’t learn it in my classes anyway.
I’ve recently went through this myself. Just a few months ago, I found myself having to hire a whole new ministry team from scratch. It’s needless to say I had no idea what I was doing. So I reached out to wise men and women of God who had been through the hiring process before. Between their wisdom and my experience through the process, here are a few do’s and don’ts that can function as a beginner’s guide to hiring church staff.
Perhaps the worst thing you can do when hiring staff is rush. When we rush we tend to make mistakes, and mistakes with people cost a lot more than hiring no one.
My pastor puts it this way: “I would rather want what I don’t have then have what I don’t want.” It’s better to hire no one at all than to rush and hire the wrong person. So when you are hiring staff, be patient and don’t rush the process. Your future self (and the rest of your team) will thank you.
2) Sell Them
When you’re interviewing staff candidates, resist the urge to sell them on your church. I struggle with this one. I love my church so much that I easily default to selling candidates on the job I’m interviewing for. The problem is this keeps us talking more than the candidate. It makes it easier to miss red flags we could have caught other wise.
Additionally, if you have to sell them on the job before they take it, you will probably have to sell them to keep it later. When you’re interviewing staff candidates, don’t try to sell them on the job.
Hiring staff is a lot like getting married. Everyone has junk, you just have to decide whose you want to deal with. When you see a red flag in the interview process, don’t excuse the behavior. If you settle on the front end, you’ll regret it on the back end.
Pastor and leadership expert Craig Groeschel puts it this way. “There are two times when you can never settle: when you’re selecting a spouse and when you’re hiring.” They key to not settling is to know what you want for the role and to look diligently for the right person to fit it. It’s worth the effort to keep searching until you find it. Keep looking for the right one and don’t settle for anything less.
1) Ask Questions
One of the most important things we can do when hiring is to ask great questions. The right questions can uncover more truth than any personality test ever could. Learning to ask the right questions the right way will go a long way in the hiring process.
In the interview process, it’s important to ask questions more than once. By asking similar questions more than once, you will find out much more than asking one time. Each time you ask a similar but rephrased question, you will find out a little more information than you had the first time. People tend to give more information each time. This will also help reveal any inconsistencies in a candidate’s answers.
In his book The Ideal Team Player, Patrick Lencioni advises interviewers to ask questions through the lens of what others would say about the candidate. For example, instead of asking a candidate about their strengths and weaknesses, you could ask them what their previous boss would say their strengths and weaknesses are. People tend to answer questions more honestly when answering them through the lens of what others would say about them. So when interviewing a staff candidate, ask a lot of questions, ask them more than once, and ask them through the lens of others.
2) Test Them
Something I have found helpful in the hiring process is testing candidates with real life situations. For example, when hiring an executive assistant recently I had candidates work through a typical admin to do list. The list was also filled with more than they could accomplish within the one hour time period we gave them. This showed us how candidates performed under pressure. It also showed us their ability to prioritize tasks. We gave them a list of tasks in no particular order to see if they could decide what tasks were most important. Would they start with the most time sensitive tasks or the easiest ones? These answers told us more than any other interview could.
3) Hire for the Future
When hiring new staff, its important to hire for the future and not the present. Hiring a staff candidate who can do the job now sounds good, but it only guarantees your church will continue to tread water. However, hiring someone who is capable of doing more will ensure your church will continue to grow beyond where it is currently at. Where do you want your church to be five years from now? Ask this question and then hire accordingly. You will thank yourself later.
Hiring is difficult, and there is a lot that goes into making successful hires. While this list is far from exhaustive, these do’s and don’ts are a great start for hiring better staff members. If you have any questions or would like further resources on hiring new staff, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.