Reminder: What's the end game here?
The goal of your church's staff search should be clearly defined by now: You want to find someone that will be a 'healthy, long-term fit' for your church.
That means someone that has the potential to do fruitful and profitable ministry in your church and city for the next five years.
So far, you've filtered each candidate through the five factors of healthy, long-term fit (Theological Alignment, Cultural Competency, Skills and Abilities, Personality, and Chemistry) and identified red, yellow, and green lights through the extensive research and drilling down into each resume.
Now it starts to get real. You've finally done all the work that you need to do to actually start interviewing candidates.
This is where it all starts to come together. And we'll walk you through how to conduct a great series of interviews with your potential candidates.
This is a LOT of work (and it should be)
No one said this would be easy.
'Cause it's not.
And it shouldn't be easy.
You are about to make some really heavy decisions. You will need wisdom (you've been praying for that, right?). You will need discernment.
The decisions that you make will affect you, your family, your church, and your community (not to mention the whole reality of your future staff member).
You are hiring a pastor. You are calling a spiritual leader to minister to your church. You will be asking a candidate to uproot their family and potentially move across the country.
If this feels heavy... it should.
But God has you in the position you're in for a reason. And he will give you wisdom to make wise choices.
This is why you need to avoid shortcuts in the process. Shortcuts many times shorten your search time but create a scenario that requires you to start this process all over again in 18-24 months when things don't work out.
Trust the process. Trust God's provision. Trust your team.
The rewards are worth it in the end.
The purpose of the first interview (it's not what you think)
Just as the purpose of the resume was to help you decide who to interview, the purpose of the first interview (usually done with video or phone call unless the candidate is local) is to determine who to bring in for an in-person interview.
Remember, the purpose of this first interview is not to choose your next staff member. It's too early for that. The real purpose of the first interview is to decide who you would like to CONTINUE the conversation with.
Sometimes the sparks don't fly on the first interview. But...
Have at least two conversations with everyone in your 'yes' pile. (Again, these can be video or phone conversations).
Sometimes sparks don't fly on the first interview. And really... that's ok.
Everybody is very nervous during the first interview. Many times a second conversation can bring out some personality and potential that you would miss if you only talk with them once.
Leverage the techology to speed things along
Leveraging technology has never been easier. And it's inexpensive (and many times, free).
You can learn a lot about a candidate through starting your interview process virtually. You actually get a peak inside their home. NOTE: The backdrop they choose for their virtual job interview with you will tell you a lot about that candidate.
Using technology, you can also record your video interview (ask the candidate for permission) and review it later or share it with other members of your team.
Virtual interviews can also be convenient. They will save you time (no need for all of you to meet in the same room) and money (no air-fares or hotel expenses).
This means they can be scheduled a little more easily. And you can even do two or three interviews in one day if you need to.
Our recommendation: no more than 4 people on the call (the candidate and 3 of you). Use separate locations so that everyone is on equal footing.
PRO TIP: Identify yellow lights you learn during your first interview to formulate questions for your second interview.
What should you be asking on your first-round interviews?
Think of your first interview as a first date.
You want to hear their story.
How did you come to faith?
How did you meet your spouse?
Tell us about your family.
Get to know them.
Why are you looking for a job now? What's causing you to look?
You can ask some yellow light issues, but try to stick to stories. Stories build relationships.
YOu don't have to dive too deep too early.
And remember to tell your story as well. They want to learn about you too.
Your goal should be to make this very conversational. Make this a discussion, not an interrogation.
Because you've done your homework, you will be able to pull some of the five factors out of their stories... from what they say, and even how they say it.
Post Interview: Finding unity and consensus on your team
Levels of Consensus Model
This will help your team members express how they are feeling about a candidate after the second conversation.
1. I can say an unqualified “yes” to the decision. I am satisfied that the decision is an expression of the wisdom of the group.
2. I find the decision perfectly acceptable.
3. I can live with the decision. I’m not especially enthusiastic about it.
4. I do not fully agree with the decision. However, I do not choose to block the decision. I am willing to support the decision because I trust the wisdom of the group.
5. I do not agree with the decision and feel the need to stand in the way of this decision being accepted.
6. I feel that we have no clear sense of unity in the group. We need to do more work before consensus can be reached.
Limit the number of 4s. (yellow flags)
If you have 5s, there needs to be more conversation.
This tool will help you determine where your team sits and how to move forward.
Communication after the first and second interviews
The further you get down the road with a candidate, communication becomes even MORE important.
Be sure each candidate knows what the next step is. (for example... we'll get back with you by Monday, or you'll hear something back from us in the next three days).
At this point in the conversation, an email reject is kind of cold. We recommend following up with a quick phone call to any candidate that you are releasing from the process.
IMPORTANT: For the candidates you release from your consideration, be sure to affirm their calling. Confirm your belief that God has something great in their future, but we just don't feel that this is going to be the right fit for you now. Thank them and wish them well.
How many candidates should you conduct interview with?
Know your church.
We suggest keeping this interview process to a handful of candidates (no more than five... two or three ideally).
Remember... the candidates you are talking to are also probably talking with other churches. It's not uncommon for candidates to be interviewing with multiple churches at once.
Move with as much speed and intention (without rushing) as you can.