Church Staffing Tip: There’s Not A Perfect Candidate
By: Gail Mayes January 16, 2013
When hiring a new church staff member, churches are often on the lookout for the perfect candidate. For many churches, the perfect candidate has more experience than is required, is either just like or the exact opposite of the individual who held the position previously, and one who wants to work for free. Sometimes after talking with churches about their ideal candidate, I'm forced to ask them if they would like the candidate to turn water into wine as well or if walking on water would suffice. Though we at Vanderbloemen Search Group think we have amazingly gifted and high capacity candidates, we acknowledge that the pool of highly qualified candidates is small and the pool of perfect candidates is even smaller. The only perfect candidate actually could turn water into wine and walk on water, but He didn't have a wife and kids.
In the search for a perfect candidate, churches often pass over great candidates who with just a little bit of mentoring, time, and encouragement would be exactly what that church staff needed.
Here are some suggestions to avoid the pitfalls of the unrealistic "perfect candidate" perspective:
1. Spend time thinking realistically about the requirements for the position.
Ask yourself, "If the position was offered to me and I had those qualifications, would I want to take the position?" Church staffs often fall into the trap of thinking they have to hire someone who has the exact same qualities and background as the individual who held the position previously. Just because theYouth Pastor who is leaving has 5 years of experience, was into camping ministry, and plays the guitar doesn't mean that the next Youth Pastor does too. Ask yourself what skills and experience is truly important to be successful in the ministry you are looking to fill. Focus on the things that are truly important and allow space for candidates character and experience to fill in the rest.
2. Talk to candidates with an open mind.
It happens to me often - I'll see a resume and think the candidate is unqualified for the position but decide I should talk to them anyway, and I'm almost always glad I did. When you make assumptions about people based on a few facts on a piece of paper, you could miss a great candidate.
3. Realize that people grow and that no one is perfect right out of the gate.
Perhaps you see a candidate who is 91% the right fit but are hesitant about the candidate's weakness. Have a conversation with those on your church staff about whether or not the weakness is a growth area - an area that with mentoring and time will become an area of strength. If you do move forward with that hire, be sure to be fair to that candidate and devote time and energy to their development.
4. Ask for help.
Whether you establish a referral program at your church, reach out to people in your network, or talk withVSG about what we could do to help you in your search, please don't think you have to do this on your own.
The screening, interviewing, and hiring process isn't easy. However, when you approach the hiring process with intentionality and care, you have an incredible opportunity to build an amazing team that can serve your church more than you could ever dream.
What are the frustrations you run into when trying to find the perfect candidate for your church staff?