Excerpts From The Experts: Interviewing & Hiring Tips For Church Leaders


In this series, Excerpts from the Experts: Interviewing and Hiring Tips, we approach those well-versed in human resource practices in ministry (and sometimes, in general). To start us off, we talk to Jerry Hurley from LifeChurch.tv in Edmond, Oklahoma. Jerry is the Pastor and Team Development Leader for LifeChurch.tv and oversees the hiring and interviewing process at the church.

Q: What's your role at LifeChurch.tv, and how long have you been responsible for hiring people?

JH: I am the Team Development Leader at LifeChurch.tv, and I have had hiring responsibilities for 28 years the last 14 at LifeChurch.tv.

Q: It's easy to go online and read about how to excel during an interview. However, this may produce a better "interviewee" than "employee." What advice do you have for someone who's received the call back for an interview?

JH: There is more to life than a job, the right role and right fit makes all the difference. First, spend some quality time in self reflection, identify areas of strength and success as well as weakness and failure or struggle. Then honestly evaluate those in light of the role your will be interviewing for.  Be willing to acknowledge a disconnect should one become apparent. People generally look at a new role as a fresh start, and a new beginning. The problem is; we take ourselves with us, and the same patterns will generally repeat themselves. 

Second, be yourself! You will either get the job or you won't, but it will be easier to live with either outcome if you remain true to who you are.

Q: Hiring someone takes a good amount of courage and intuition. What are some best practices you've implemented as you evaluate potential candidates?

JH: This is simple, have a consistent process.  You may include some of the following:

      • Use both objective and subjective measures and apply them consistently.
      • Include key stake holders in the process. 
      • Hire to your values. Heart comes before gifts.
      • Use behavior based, experiential questions.
      • Be patient and never settle.
      • Clearly identify risk factors.

I also believe the pace of your process should match the pace of your organization. For example, a church with a fast paced, very direct ministry style, should design a process that is fast paced and direct in its approach.

Q: Let's say you've made a poor hiring decision. In your opinion, what's the best way to address this which honors both the organization and the employee?

JH: Deal with it as soon as you come to that conclusion.  Be honest, life-giving and do your best to help the team member transition in a healthy way, but don't put it off. The sooner it is handled the sooner all parties can get back to God's purpose for their lives. Next conduct an honest evaluation of that particular process with the people involved, so we can learn from the mistake.  Any one that has hired people has made mistakes; try not to make the same ones over again.

Q: And just for fun...What's the most shocking answer a candidate has ever given you during an interview?

JH: “Everyone smokes a little pot once in a while…right?”