Do you have the right people doing the right things in your ministry organization? Why is this so important anyway?
One of my most favorite topics to talk with leaders about is how to have better hiring for ministry organizations. We have shared some basic steps over the years with leaders that have helped them make good hiring decisions.
These are things I learned through the years by looking at people who have been amazing at this. These are people who don’t make many hiring mistakes, and have great retention of team members. This has become an obsession of mine…taking what they are doing and piecing together everything I can find, read, and learn to become better at hiring.
The following 7 steps for better hiring in ministry are the product of what I have learned from many others, and some things I’ve learned the hard way.
Step 1: Expand your inputs.
One of the things I typically see when someone has a position open is that people just promote the job. They send out an advertisement, post it on a website, or maybe they just hire someone who happens to be there. While those are not wrong or bad, and they may often work, I really challenge leaders to think about expanding the inputs they have.
Inputs are the roads that great people would take to find your organization. Through good old fashioned traditional networking, being able to quickly describe the kind of person that you are looking for, going after people, and then recruiting them, you can find people that are actually a ‘fit’ for your organization.
Woody Faulk at Chick-fil-A (one of my mentors) says. “Don’t just hire whoever washes over the bow of the ship. Go out and find great people and slowly, carefully recruit them when you know that they are a fit.”
Step 2: Give an assignment BEFORE an interview.
Another key aspect of better hiring is to realize that you don’t need to jump right to an interview after only looking at someone’s resume. After you have names of potential candidates on your list you can give them an assignment before an interview.
Make your selections and give them a test project. This should be something simple, but that enables you to see their speed, quality of work, and their expertise level. This is incredibly helpful and adds a level of expectation to the process, even on the part of the candidate.
Step 3: Do an initial screening interview.
As you prepare for this initial screening, have an established list of questions that are asked of every candidate. These can be done over the phone or face to face.
I also recommend you have someone else other than the primary person who is going to be selecting this individual administer this initial screening. When someone is not talking to their future boss, they communicate differently. This technique is powerful.
Go over these initial screening interviews with the person who administered them and make some selections of priority candidates.
Step 4: Use personality assessments.
I know there are tons of different viewpoints on this. If you haven’t used personality assessments before, you may think they are useless, but these tests are actually very, very reliable. The two that we strongly recommend are the DiSC profile, and StrengthsFinder.
These are friendly and positive, and the candidates typically love being able to take them and learn about themselves.
The other thing that is great about this is it creates opportunities for conversation that you may not have gotten into just by doing an interview. Now you have results from a profile, the candidate has seen that, you’ve seen that, and you have a lot of material to talk about. This is extremely helpful.
Here’s a key point about personality assessments: they won’t tell you who to hire. But, they will often help you discern who not to hire. It is not often clear through interviewing when someone’s strengths, personality, or giftedness doesn’t line up well with the job opportunity. But, a personality assessment will show you for sure.
Step 5: Do more interviews.
While there is much that I could talk about in terms of interviews, the main thing that I want to encourage you with is to do more interviews. I was really convicted one time when I heard a leader who I really looked up to talk about having seven to ten conversations with people before making a hiring decision. I couldn’t imagine how in the world he did so many interviews with people.
He asked how many interviews I do before hiring someone and I responded by telling him I usually did one or two. His response really challenged my thinking. He said, “Wow, Zach, you must be a lot better at hiring than I am because I just don’t feel like I have enough information to make a really good decision with just one or two conversations with someone.”
Here’s the thing…I knew for a fact that I was not better at hiring than he was! I’ve come to realize since then that his approach is better. You really want to “wear people out” with interviews and have a lot of informal conversations. This way, they’re really getting to know you and you getting to know them. They’re spending a lot of time talking with you both formally and informally. Is there some risk in doing so many interviews? Absolutely! But, the more conversations you are having, the more you are seeing who they really are. That is the person you are going to get anyway if you hire them.
Step 6: Involve your team members.
I really believe that involving your team members (even volunteers) in hiring gives you the opportunity to get the same questions asked by different people, and different questions asked by different people. They are all hearing the responses and then you can get all those people in a room and hear their feedback. By doing this, they will have heard so many things that you will not have heard otherwise.
Step 7. Talk them out of the job.
Yes, you read that right. I have found that a common practice among highly effective leaders is to try and talk the candidate you’ve selected out of taking the job. Your final interview should include spending some time to do this. If you can talk them out of the job, then they don’t need to be working in your organization.
This might sound like saying, “Are you really sure you want to get into this because this is… We’ve talked about the good stuff, but let me talk to you about some of the hard stuff too… Are you sure you are up for this?”
I continue to learn and grow in this practice of better hiring. I would love to hear from you! What are some of the hiring methods you use that are effective? I’d also love to hear if there were some things in this article that really challenged you.
I look forward to seeing how this impacts what you are doing. Let’s go onward and upward to find more and more effective people to get involved in your ministry and moving forward in your vision.