5 Red Flags To Watch For In Church Staff Candidates


Hiring for your church staff is an important yet complex task to undertake; there are endless considerations church leaders need to make before deciding to hire a certain candidate. Factors such as the candidate’s ministry resume, references, and culture fit must all be taken into account in the vetting process, just to name a few. 

While church staffing may seem like a daunting task at first, one strategy that church leaders can use to narrow down the search process is to filter out candidates that show an immediate lack of fit for the organization.

These 5 “red flags” are by no means the primary route for evaluating a candidate, but are helpful in noticing some potential misalignment with your church staff.

1. Unresponsiveness

You should also be aware of the level of responsiveness (or unresponsiveness) of a candidate. There needs to be a level of grace here because we’re all human and everyone has missed an email before or forgotten to return a phone call, but overall, is your candidate generally responsive, or do they take days to get back to you?

Church leaders have a responsibility to communicate well with candidates and vice-versa.Tweet: Church leaders have a responsibility to communicate well with candidates. https://bit.ly/28ZnHl3 via @VanderbloemenSG #ChurchStaffing

When you find a candidate that you want to move forward with, remember that it’s very easy for an email to get lost in an inbox or go to spam. If you don’t get a response from the first email, send a follow up email and/or give them a call. If you get their voicemail, leave a voicemail. At that point, if they still aren’t responsive, it might be time to look for other candidates.

If a candidate has submitted their information to be considered for a role and they are not responsive to your follow up regarding their candidacy, this should raise a question as you consider their candidacy. If they can’t keep track of email, voicemails, or get back to you in a timely manner, this might mean that they will exhibit the same behavior on your staff. This isn’t always true, but it’s something to consider as you evaluate their ability to be responsible, dedicated, and dependable.

2. Inflexibility

In addition to being unresponsive, a trait you should look out for throughout the candidate interview process is inflexibility.

As a church, you have a commitment to serving the community and people around you, which means you are very busy. While the candidates you’re interviewing have commitments and are also likely very busy, inflexibility could show a lack of respect of your time or an inability to be adaptable.

Are they showing that they want to make a time work? Are they offering solutions throughout the interview process, or does it seem as though they act entitled and inflexible?

3. Inability To Meet Deadlines

We all fell for that test in middle school where the first line read, “Read all directions first,” and the very last direction was, “Don’t answer any of these questions and turn in your test now.” It might sound elementary, but if your candidate isn’t following directions or meeting deadlines in their current role or in their interview process with you, you might want to pause. Consider whether this is behavior they would bring with them onto your church staff.

Are they late to phone calls? Are they late to interviews? You as a church need to make sure you set proper expectations as to when you want the deadlines completed, but is the candidate meeting them in the timeframe you’re giving them?

4. Fickleness

Throughout this process, has this candidate shown that they are dependable? The opposite of dependable is being fickle and wishy-washy. The last thing you want to do is go through the hassle of interviewing a candidate, bringing them to your church, introducing them to your church staff and attendees, and then realize that they haven’t thought through what this move would mean for them and their family.

While you shouldn’t expect a candidate to be ready to pack their moving truck after their first phone call with you, you should look for signs that the candidate is prayerfully thinking through the weight of this move and what it means for his or her family. 

You don’t want your church to have to get to the end of the hiring process only to have things fall through with the candidate and have to go back to ground zero with the search process.

5. Lack Of Professionalism

One of the key factors you should be looking for in your next (and every) church staff hire is culture fit. As you are observing your candidate throughout the interview process, ask yourself, “Does the professionalism of this candidate match our team’s expected standard of professionalism?”

Some churches expect their staff to come to meetings in business professional attire. Others would laugh if a team member walked into a meeting with a blazer on. Neither is right or wrong, but to determine a culture fit, consider a match in professionalism. Professionalism should be evaluated in email correspondence and video interviewing as well.

I hope these 5 potential red flags can help you narrow down your search and speed up the process of finding your new church staff team member. 

What are some other red flags that you've seen firsthand in the search process?

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