Thursday, May 15, 2008

On hiring staff

With the dissolution of the associate position at my church, there's been much talk about who will oversee my main ministry areas. We've talked about creating positions, hiring folks, and moving toward new areas of ministry.

I talked with a mentor of mine today and as we talked about hiring new positions, he said it is important to focus on 3 things:

1) clear job description/expectations
2) clear interview questions
3) references

Too often in the church, things just happen, or we go with a default person b/c no one else seems to want the job, or we act too hastily, or....

But for people to really do the best job possible, they need to know what is expected of them and to have accountability in that. So in hiring folks, for there to be greater results (especially in creating a new position or reformatting an old one), it is essential to be very clear about what is desired/expected.

In creating clear interview questions, it's very helpful to ask not just "what would you like to see happen?" (b/c it's very easy to dream up and idealize), but to ask "tell me a time when you....(started a program, inherited a weak ____________, had to train someone, had to reprimand/correct someone who worked under you or with you...)" You want concrete examples of what the person has done in the past because past behavior is the greatest predictor of future behavior.

I could come to you with a whole host of ideas, but if I have never instituted a program, or planned and implemented an event, or supervised others, there's no guarantee that I will be able to (there's no guarantee that I won't learn and be able to do it, but that will require much more supervision from someone who has...)

As for references, it's important to get outside perspective. What has the person done well? What are his/her strengths? weaknesses? why did he/she leave the last position (paid or volunteer)? Are there any red flags we should be aware of? (Note: we sometimes shy away from asking the hard questions or questions that would imply doubt, but often those who make referrals will not share red flag/difficult information if they are not specifically prompted...)

One final thought: Just because you know and like someone does not necessarily make them the best candidate, and just b/c you aren't super keen on another does not mean they can't do a wonderful job.

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