3 Ideas To Dispel The “Perfect Candidate” Myth


When it comes to hiring and building your church staff, it's understandable to hope for the “perfect candidate,” but is it possible that you are wasting time chasing an unachievable goal? Editor Lance Haun writes of the common misconceptions that take place in the hiring process in his article, "Don't Hire The Perfect Candidate," posted on Harvard Business Review. It seems that many employers today are expending too much effort seeking the perfect candidate, or "purple squirrel" as Haun terms it, and they are paying for it indefinitely:

"If the purple squirrel doesn’t show, you’ve spent money and time on a fruitless endeavor. It cost you the time the recruiter spent on the opening, the opportunity cost of time the recruiter could’ve spent that time on another opening, and the time of those impacted by the opening."

So do we stop searching for this person entirely? Certainly it would be ideal to hire the rock star candidate who is both in tune with the heartbeat of your ministry and able to do their job for a lower-than-average salary, but more often than not this is impractical to seek. Working in ministry, it is especially important to avoid this pursuit because it can lead to frustration and mistrust in God's ultimate plan for your church body.

If you're currently struggling to find a happy medium between expectation and realism, pay attention to these important tips for your search process:

1. Be realistic.

The first thing you should be reminded of is that everyone is human, including yourself. Just as there is no such thing as a perfect person (besides Jesus, of course), a perfect candidate for your ministry may not exist either. You could be losing valuable time seeking something that will never come along. Be realistic about your church, your location, your pay, and what is needed vs. what is desired in the new hire.

2. Understand your limitations.

God's vision is much broader than ours will ever be, so you may have to accept that your initial 'ideal' candidate could end up being the wrong person for the job. Avoid getting caught on what you believe is best for your ministry and becoming blind to a certain person's unexpected potential. Be willing to compromise with someone's strengths and weaknesses, as they may end up being a better fit than you foresaw.

3. Your hiring process won’t look the same.

The perfect candidate may be more achievable in the secular workplace because these positions usually require a list of qualifications that the applicant simply does or does not meet. For churches, however, the decision can be less straightforward. Typically this person needs to have more than just a capability for the job, but also a heart for what God is doing through your church. The mistake that many church leaders make in their search is comparing their hiring process to that of a civil workplace and become frustrated with the time it takes. Once this idea is dissimulated from your expectations, it will immediately be easier to follow the timeline God has placed on your search process.

Above all else, trust that God has a plan for your church and will provide as He always does. It's perfectly normal to stress during a time of transition, but remember to take peace in His ultimate power and wisdom.

(Phil. 4:6 NLT) "Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done."

How can you avoid limiting your search process by setting unrealistic expectations?

If you liked this, then you’ll also like Church Staffing Tip: There’s Not A Perfect Candidate.