Good candidates know that it's important to prepare questions to ask the hiring church during the interview process. Gone are the days when young candidates are hungry to blindly move across the country to a new community with several unknowns staring them in the face to start a thirty-year career with your church. The Great Resignation has created a "candidate's market," if you will, and the interviews now are very much a two-way responsibility.
Your answers to these five questions will help you impress candidates during the interview process.
Question five could be a dealbreaker for many young and talented potential team members.
What is your team culture like? If I were to ask other members of your team what they love about working here, what would they say?
This is a good question to ask your team for some temperature taking right now before your next interview. Do you think your team loves working with you? Ask them what makes them feel that way. Then, you don’t have to worry about making up an answer, and your team will back you up when your new employee begins to get to know them.
If I were to ask other members of your team what their biggest challenges, hurdles, or frustrations are with working here, what would they say?
If you thought question one was hard, then you’re going to really feel the weight of this one. Too many bosses aren’t aware of what their teams actually think about their work environment and the direction of their church. Ask them and find out what they think. If you don’t have a culture of consistent safe feedback giving on your team, perhaps think about using an anonymous Google Form so your staff feels safe enough to be honest.
What do you see as your church’s biggest successes in the past three to five years?
When you clearly share some wins you and your team have experienced in the recent past, you give your candidate a clear picture of what success looks like for your team and how you measure it. You can talk about baptisms, new programs, successful outreaches, salvations, new members, attendance, growth track completions, number of people serving...anything you view as success. Be sure to have good measurable data you can share that illustrates how you are measuring the success you cite.
What do you see as the biggest hurdles to future success in the next few years for your team/church or in the role I would be in?
Now it's your turn to be vulnerable and open. Share some of the not-so-good things you as a senior leader are observing on the horizon for your team or church. Giving in decline? Attendance hasn’t bounced back to pre-Covid numbers? Staff members close to retirement, but hanging on too long? Shifts that need to be made to the church’s mission, vision, values, or theology? Did a past staff transition hurt the congregation’s trust in leadership? If you hide these potential landmines from candidates in the hiring process you can expect them to not be retained very long; and then you may see other employees begin to lose confidence in your hiring process because employees don’t stay on the team.
Does your church have a clear and generous paternity/maternity policy for employees?
I’m seeing churches get hammered by this recently, especially as more and more women enter into the pastorate. Churches that don’t have a clear, consistent, and generous policy for new moms AND dads are in danger of pushing away potential Gen Z and Gen X team members because so much has been published recently describing the value of those first few weeks and months of bonding time between parents and their children and the incredible long-term value it gives to family health. If your church says they value and care for families, but expects their team members to be fully back to work after a week or two after having a child, you might consider sweeping changes in your policy to help attract top talent. This is one of those rare areas where churches can be generous to their team members without it costing them more than what they already have in the budget. And if you want your church to be a place where people love to work, this is a great way for your employees to feel loved.
What questions have you found helpful in your interviewing process? What questions have you been asked by candidates? I'd love to hear from you!