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Staff Hiring| Church DNA/Culture

Convenience Yields Mediocrity

| 2 min read

Written by Matt Steen
May 21, 2019 7:10:00 AM

What does your process inadvertently communicate?

One of the hallmarks of the traditional church search process is the questionnaire. If you have ever engaged in the job search process, you likely broke out in a cold sweat at the mere mention of this document. The questionnaire takes many forms, but typically asks several questions about theology, church history, philosophy of ministry, a candidates family, and much more. One of the most invasive of these documents that I experienced asked questions about my family and their health (illegal, you ask? not exactly... but definitely tacky).

One of the more disturbing trends that I have seen over the last several years is that churches will receive a resume from a prospective candidate and respond with this document by email. The reasoning for this is simple: it's convenient. The church is not willing to engage with someone who is not willing to sit down and put the effort into filling out their questionnaire. From the church's perspective, this is efficient, convenient, and logical.

Unfortunately, it costs the church the best candidates.

A few things to consider about this type of approach:

  • It is not uncommon in the church hiring process for a candidate to spend a significant amount of time crafting their responses to the questionnaire (they are all unique and it is difficult to cut and paste from one to another) only to submit it and never receive a response. You may have a plan in place to follow up with every candidate who returns a questionnaire, but the sins of other churches will hurt you here and reduces the likelihood of a response.
  • Once a candidate submits a resume, they are still investigating your church and have questions. They are limited to what they learn from your website, social media presence, and potentially friends who know something about your church. These documents often require significant emotional investment and can feel like being asked about wedding plans on a first date.
  • This approach feels impersonal and feels demanding. When you make this the first touch point for your relationship, you are inadvertently suggesting to a candidate that what they believe is more important than who they are. This message may be accurate, but probably isn't.
  • Savvy candidates are applying and pursuing several opportunities. Your process communicates a great deal about your culture. Yes, you are interviewing candidates for a position... but they are interviewing you as well.

Consider instead taking a slightly more personal approach. When someone indicates interest in your position, do a quick resume screen. Have a short list of criteria that differentiates candidates who fit the "maybe" pile from the "no" pile. Invest ten or fifteen minutes for a brief conversation with your maybes. Introduce yourself, let them know you received their resume, share a little about the role, and describe the search process. Then ask them to consider filling out your questionnaire as the next step.

This is more time consuming, less convenient, and far more personal. It also sets you apart from most of the churches who are currently hiring.

Which type of process would you prefer?




P.S. Doing a search right is inconvenient, time consuming, and utterly necessary. This is why we exist. I'd love to spend sometime discussing your upcoming search and share how we conduct our searches. Click here to schedule a time to talk.

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