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When Candidates Can't Travel

How do we keep the process moving forward when candidates can't travel in for on-site interviews?

How do we keep the process moving forward?

 
Eight weeks ago, the process of finding your next teammate was straightforward (not easy): market the position, screen resumes, conduct interviews, identify finalists, conduct more intense interviews, choose the person you'd like to move forward with, and bring them in for a visit. Seven weeks ago, that all changed.

 
When everything changed, Chemistry was working with several churches who were in the final stages of their search. After guiding them through the early stages of their search, they had selected finalists and were ready to bring them in for a visit... and then travel stopped. Perhaps you are in this situation with a search that you are conducting. Here is what we recommend:

Clarity is Key: First and foremost, clearly communicate the situation and what the process will be moving forward. Let your candidates know where things stand and what they can expect. Whether the search is being placed on indefinite hold, is going full speed ahead, or the start date will be delayed to October 1, communicate that to those whom you are working with. Also, keep them in the loop as to what is going on at your church and how the pandemic is affecting it. They will appreciate the candor and remain engaged in the search.

Rearrange the Process: If you are planning on moving forward with the process, I would suggest rearranging the order of your process so that you can focus on the important work when travel is once again allowed. Many churches wait until the very end of the search process to discuss the salary package and other logistical issues. I would strongly suggest that you have these conversations once you determine that someone is your finalist. This will spare you, and the candidate, from wasted time and energy if it is just not doable.

Leverage Technology: We launched Chemistry virtually because we are convinced that the technology exists to allow churches to do a great deal of their search remotely. I am convinced that this season is proving this to be true. Rather than push pause on your search until a visit can be scheduled, here are three ways that we have seen our churches leverage their search to keep moving their process forward:
 
  • Develop a Profile: Create and distribute a pdf profile of your candidate to your congregation that includes relevant details of their background, shares pictures of them and their family (if applicable), and has some custom content for your church. We suggest that this document has written responses to a few (four at most) questions that are important to the church and an introductory video that gives people a sense of who the candidate is. Lastly, it is also helpful to link off to a work sample (leading worship, preaching, etc).
  • Virtual Coffee: Videoconferencing is a major component of the interviewing process already, why not take it one step further? One of the churches that we are working with has let the congregation know that the search team has selected a finalist. Rather than waiting for their state to reopen, they are hosting a series of virtual coffee meetings where 8-10 members of their congregation come together to meet the candidate and his wife. These gatherings should be kept as informal as possible, focused more on the candidate getting to know the congregation, and vice versa. One word of caution, a Zoom call with 8-10 people is not the best venue for a theological inquisition, so it may be wise to moderate the discussion somewhat.
  • Guest Preaching: With most churches meeting virtually, it is easier than ever before to have a candidate preach on Sunday morning. Consider asking your candidate to record a sermon for an upcoming service so that you can share it with your congregation. Follow that up with a time of Q&A on Zoom that allows your congregation to interact with your candidate.

The goal of this process is not to replace an in-person visit (except in certain, special circumstances), but to do as much of the work as possible ahead of time, allowing a candidate to feel as though they were visiting friends instead of strangers.

Are you navigating a search process right now and trying to figure out how to move forward? Let's talk! Use this link to schedule a conversation.

 

matt

 

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Matt Steen

Matt Steen

Matt has served the local church for over two decades as a youth pastor, church planter, and executive pastor. Originally from Baltimore, Matt currently lives in Orlando, with his wife Theresa, and has a B.S. in Youth Ministry from Nyack College and an M.Div. and MBA from Baylor University. Certified as an Urban Church Planter Coach by Redeemer City to City and as a StratOp facilitator by the Paterson Center, Matt has made a career of helping churches thrive through intentionality, clarity, and creating healthy cultures. He is convinced that a healthy church is led by a healthy team with great chemistry, and loves partnering with Chemistry’s churches to do great things for the Kingdom.

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