One of the challenges that I face as a leader is when a ministry position is vacant. I sometimes feel like there is nothing worse because it’s in times like that where I have to pick up some of the pieces of the work that is not getting done. Often, it is work I am not skilled in or prepared for. It takes me out of my strength zone.
My response is to want to turn around and hire someone as quickly as possible to fill that position.
And that would be a mistake.
I am constantly consulting pastors, pastoral councils, and other leaders to take their time in the hiring of an employee. Why?
I’ve seen it lots of times. In the rush to get the position filled so that the ministry gets back to normal, a leader hires too quickly and ends up with someone who is a wrong fit or not skilled for the job. In the end, the person you hired leaves in 3 or 6 or 12 months.
Then, the rush to hire another individual begins again. The cycle continues.
This costs your ministry a lot of time and money.
The key thing when hiring anyone for your ministry is this: slow down!
When I rush, that’s when I make the mistakes. (Funny, that’s true in many parts of my life, not just hiring.) Here are a couple things worth considering in your hiring process.
- Test for skills: If you are hiring someone who needs to be proficient in Microsoft Office, web design, social media management, or accounting, then before the person gets an interview, test to make sure they actually have the skills they boast on their resume. This can be as simple as having them come into the church office and preparing a document on Word or developing a spreadsheet on Excel. If they have the skills, give them an interview. If they don’t have the skills, don’t waste your time with an interview.
- Interviews: Have multiple sets of interviews (at least 2). There should be a group interview that consists of some key audiences the person is going to be ministering with and to. That way you get multiple perspectives. If they do well on that interview, follow the interview up with another interview with the pastor or another key leader. Have it be a one-on-one interview to see how the candidate does in a more intimate setting. During all the interviews, your goal is to not only ascertain that they have the experience needed for the job, but to also make sure they are a good fit. Will they fit in well with the culture at the church and with the other staff? Do they have values that are consistent with your ministry? Also, it’s worth finding out about their family life (within legal limits). A healthy family life sets someone up for success. An unhealthy family life sets someone up for failure.
- Stop and think. After all is said and done, if you feel like the candidate is not a good fit, then don’t hire him or her. Just because they are the best candidate doesn’t mean you have to hire him. Stop and start over. If you don’t find the right person in the first round of resume submissions, then start again. Don’t settle for someone who you think will do a good job in the ministry. Hire someone that you have extreme confidence in to do the ministry with excellence.
There are of course many other things that we could talk about when it comes to hiring, but remember the main thing: slow down the hiring process and take your time. If it takes 3 to 6 months to find the right person, so be it. In the end, you’ll have the right person for the job.
Question: Have you had to hire an employee before? What worked well for you in the hiring process?