4 Crucial Steps Of Church Staffing Due Diligence


An extremely important part of the church staffing and hiring process is conducting due diligence on candidates. The information uncovered in the due diligence process is very valuable in that it may give specific insight into whether the candidate is a good fit for your church and, if so, the best way to lead the candidate.

Likewise, it may uncover information that would be a good starting place for further conversations to evaluate if a candidate is a good fit for your organization’s culture. I strongly encourage church leaders and pastor search committees to view all information gained through the due diligence process as part of the candidate’s story. 

Here are the four crucial steps in the due diligence process.

1. Reference Checks

Without a doubt, reference checks are the most important part of the candidate due diligence process. Talking with individuals who have supervised, worked alongside, and/or reported to the candidate should give you a complete picture of how he or she will perform on your church staff. Additionally, doing a 360 degree reference check will provide you with good insight into how to best mentor and manage your new employee. The helpfulness of reference checks, however, is directly correlated to the quality of the questions that are asked.

During your interview with the candidate, keep a running list of questions or concerns that come up. The most valuable questions tend to be those around a candidate’s leadership and relational abilities, personal integrity and any specific questions you may have about his or her ability to perform a new job.

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2. Criminal Check

There are several reputable companies that preform criminal checks on individuals for a fee or your local police department may preform these checks for free. Keep in mind that criminal checks typically only report convictions and not arrests, convictions that were overturned on technicalities or convictions in juvenile court that were sealed. This part of the due diligence process may be legally required in your state.

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3. Credit Check

Credit checks are perhaps that most controversial and easily abused part of an organization’s due diligence process. Prior to an organization conducting credit checks on candidate, it is imperative that the leadership have a plan for what will be done with the information once it is received.

We strongly recommend against - and in some cases it may be illegal - to discriminate against individuals based on information from their credit check. Information from credit checks should only be used as a starting point in conversations with candidates about philosophies of debt and money management. Remember, information from credit checks is just one part of your candidate’s story and should be viewed from that perspective.

4. Education Verification

Verifying the credentials of candidates, especially if they are required for the role, is an important part of the church's due diligence process. While the importance of a college degree is hotly debated (especially in the face of the mountain of debt many students take on to obtain one, as might be reflected in a credit check) it is simply not acceptable to fabricate or exaggerate one’s achievements, education or otherwise. Likewise, if ordination is a requirement, be sure to verify those credentials with the denomination. As is the case with the previous checks, consent by the candidate is usually required to complete this task.

Our team's Search Consultants are often asked when the best time to conduct formal due diligence on a candidate. Our response is usually after a candidate interviews but before a formal job offer is made. The most popular time seems to be after extensive phone interviews but prior to the candidates final onsite visit. When done during this time period the questions asked of references can be tailored to specific candidates and any red flags that may come up during the checks can be discussed with the candidate and or used in the decision making process. As a thorough due diligence process can be costly, we recommend only the final few candidates be subject to this stage of the vetting process.

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