Guest Post: 4 Steps to Making the Right Hire

At Ministry Insights, we work to equip Christ-followers and ministries to build stronger leaders. This is the first of two excellent articles from our good friend and Ministry Insights practitioner Paul Alexander that gives you great steps to take in successful staffing.

Four Steps to Making the Right Hire


Success is rarely stumbled upon, and great teams don’t just happen. They’re intentionally built with a keen understanding of where you are going, and not just what, but whom it’s going to take to get you there. That’s where making the right hire comes into play. The problem is that churches are notorious for making the wrong hire, and the usual culprit is a lack of any semblance of a hiring process. Fortunately there are 4 real steps you can take to make the right hires.

#1 Discovery and Planning

Paul Alexander

Paul Alexander

Before you decide to invite a new team member to the room you’ve got to take the time to do the hard work of wrestling through some clarifying questions. Who are we? Where are we going? Who do we need on the team to help get us there? If you skip this step you’re pretty much guaranteed to make the wrong hire. This is the phase where the Job Description is set, the profile is built, and salary range and benefits are all agreed upon by whoever the decision makers are.

#2 Building the Candidate Pool

The traditional goal of this step is to build a broad end of the funnel. This is where you make the decision if the search is going to be managed internally or by an external Search Firm. If you are going to run this through your personal and denominational networks or if you’re going to open it up more broadly through using social media, posting it on your church website and popular job sites. Is this an internal hire, or a public search? For more on that check out this recent article by Forbes.

#3 Narrowing the Field

There are all kinds of filters you can use to narrow the field. But whatever filters you land on, they should naturally escalate constriction, leaving you with a few top candidates. The Job Description, a Questionnaire, work samples, a phone or Skype interview, visiting the candidate in their work environment if possible, and a site visit with face-to-face interviews are some potential filters to be included. This is the stage of the process where you must do your due diligence including personality profiles, EQ, background check, references, and credit check if appropriate. Personally I don’t like to bring someone in for a site visit until I’m convinced that they can actually do the job. Then all I have to answer is are they a good fit for the team, is there relational chemistry, do I actually want them on the team? If you’ve already said yes to all of this, inviting them to the team becomes an easy decision.

The most common mistake during this phase of the hire is mismanaging the process and poor communication. If you don’t regularly and consistently communicate with candidates, it comes across as unprofessional, that you’re disinterested in them, or you don’t have your act together.

[Editor’s note: this is the ideal point in the process to invite the candidate to complete the Leading From Your Strengths profile to see how the individual lines up with the position requirements determined when you created the job profile.]

#4 On-Ramping

This is perhaps the most overlooked phase of hiring by churches. Churches are frequently guilty of taking a collective sigh of relief once the hire is made. Essentially saying to the candidate, “You’re hired! Now figure it out, that’s why we hired you.” When making the actual offer to the candidate make sure to provide a written job description (they should already have this by the way), expectations, salary, benefits, moving allowance, start date, etc. Think through the first day in the office. Is there new hire paperwork for them to fill out, new employee guidelines to review, orientation to equipment, a tour, introductions, or lunch with specific team members? Who is setting up their office, their computer, and their phone? Who is setting their agenda the first few weeks? How are you making their first few days and weeks with you memorable? Is their first impression, “This is going to be a great place to work, I’m glad we made this decision!” Or are they going to have buyers’ remorse?

Do all you can to prevent that.

Paul Alexander is a pastor, speaker, ministry strategist, and consultant at The Unstuck Group. This post was originally published on his blog, which we encourage you to check out.


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