3 Essential Interview Traits To Look For In Church Staff Candidates

3 Essential Interview Traits To Look For In Church Staff Candidates.jpg

Knowing that a bad hire can be costly both financially and to the momentum and morale of your church staff, it’s important to know what to look for as you interview candidates for your team.

While every church staffing search will be different and nuanced, here are three must-have traits that you should seek in each and every ministry candidate.

1. Professionalism

Like it or not, the way a person presents themself makes a lasting first impression that can be difficult to change. Also, keep in mind that first impressions often begin virtually. Does the candidate respond to your emails and correspondence in an appropriate and prompt manner? Is their electronic communication both accurate (spelling and grammar) and succinct? Is their online social media presence free of any red flags? Once it is time for the face-to-face interview, are they dressed appropriately for the interview? Do they arrive on time? Do they smile and shake hands with a pleasant introduction?

Practical tip for interviewers: Use non-verbal cues when interviewing them such as smiling, head nodding, or leaning forward. This will help the ministry candidate feel more at ease and likely offer you more of the information you are seeking as you discern your next steps in the staffing process.

2. Preparation

Walking into an interview is unknown territory that can be intimidating. The best candidates I know go the extra mile to learn who their interviewers are and spend time researching additional information about your church and team. As an interviewer, you can assess if they prepared for the interview by asking yourself if they have researched your church and this role effectively. Do they have prepared questions that show not only their level of interest but also that they have done a sufficient amount of research into the role and your organization to understand potential challenges and benefits?

Practical tip for interviewers: Make sure that you have also done your homework on the candidate coming in for the interview so that you are prepared with relevant questions about their experience. It is considered poor form to ask them to recount events that are clearly spelled out on their resume. Have prepared questions so that they know they are being looked at seriously and intentionally. Consider googling them and checking their LinkedIn profiles for further verification of experience.

3. Confidence

There is a difference between confidence and arrogance. Confident people have a healthy and realistic view of their strengths and are not shy in sharing them when asked in an interview setting. They are positive in their interactions and refrain from negative conversation. A confident candidate will be able to express why they will be a valuable asset to your organization and what impact they believe they will make on your team. The best candidates I have interviewed speak from a place of authenticity and are able to to articulate their challenges and weaknesses without seeing themselves as failures. They can receive feedback well and have the learning agility to grow through complexity(or conflict).

Practical tip for interviewers: Don’t be afraid to ask questions regarding behavior. The best behavior questions start with the phrase, “Tell me about a time when...” Great behavior questions are open-ended and can lead you to better understanding your candidate. Consider these interview questions:

  • ”Tell me about a time when you felt uncertain with a project or task?"
  • "Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a conflict at work?"
  • "Tell me about time when you felt energized on the job?"
  • "What do you consider you biggest success/accomplishment or proudest moment in the last 5 years?”

There are a variety of things to consider as you move ahead in your interview process to build your church staff team. Getting started on the right foot will help you reach your destination successfully.

What others areas do you consider most important in your initial interviews?

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