Church Staffing

How to Avoid Hiring the Wrong Person

By: Context Staffing

Hiring The Wrong Person

Have you ever hired a person only to have serious regret later? Hiring the wrong person can be a painful experience and it can slow momentum, drain resources, and undermine team unity. In a church, hiring the wrong person can damage relationships and hurt people who are trusting us to lead spiritually. Character, Competence, and Chemistry are all critical in order to make a good hire. (I will address character and competence in future posts.)

In order for a person to become an effective and productive part of your team, there needs to be a good chemistry fit.

By Chemistry, I mean, does your potential hire fit with your current culture and context? Have you carefully explored this?

With an inside hire, you often have the opportunity to witness chemistry over time. But with an outside hire, this is much more difficult. How can you determine if a person coming in from the outside will be a good fit with the culture of your church or organization?

Here are three ways to assess chemistry with a potential hire:

1. Extended Network Chemistry.

Does the person that you are considering hiring come from your same network or denomination? This shared connection does not ensure chemistry with your organization, but it is a big step in the right direction. Network commonality brings a common language, common belief system, and a common set of experiences. Hiring a person who comes from within your extended organizational network is a good start toward a good cultural fit.

2. Geographic Chemistry.

Will the person that you are considering hiring survive long-term in your geographic culture? Many people think that they want to move two thousand miles away to take a new position. Many of these same people go home a couple of years later. If you decide to hire a person from a different part of the country, proceed carefully. Most people go home eventually. A major leader in another part of the country once told me that he has never hired a person from Texas, who has not eventually gone back to Texas. Seemingly, people who consider Texas their home, miss it when they leave!

Here are some assessment questions regarding geographic and cultural fit:

  • Has your potential hire lived his entire life in one part of the country?
  • What is making him want to move across the country into an entirely new culture?
  • Where did your potential hire grow up?
  • Where did his/her spouse grow up?
  • Where does your potential hire’s extended family live? His wife?
  • In what kind of culture is your potential hire most comfortable? (Urban, Rural, Suburban) Does he have experience to back up his answer?
  • If married, are both husband and wife completely on board and optimistic. (Ask them both)

Asking these questions carefully just might keep you from having to do it all again a year from now.

Remember – In an interview, most people will tell you what you want to hear. So dig deep and argue back.

3. Cultural Context Chemistry.

Does your potential hire “click” with your current team and other leaders in your organization? In a church, does the person connect well with key lay leaders?

How can you assess this kind of chemistry? The key is to bring any potential hire into your context for a few days. You get to know a person when you spend several days with them.

During your potential hire’s multi-day visit, consider:

  • Getting out of the office into different situations. Go to a baseball game or a community event or something that is not work related.
  • Arranging for your potential hire to spend time with several different kinds of people and get feedback from them on how they connected with the potential hire.
  • Housing your potential hire stay in someone’s home rather than in a hotel. You can learn a lot about a person by having them interact day and night in someone’s home.
  • If possible, bringing in both husband and wife so you can interact with both and watch them interact with each other.
  • Paying attention to how curious a person is and what kinds of questions he asks. (I would never hire a person who does not ask questions.)

There is no way to guarantee the perfect hire, but doing due-diligence in assessing chemistry will help you avoid major hiring mistakes and the pain that accompanies them!