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4 keys to the first interview

479241449Over my 25-plus years of ministry — I started when I was 10! — one quick realization was that hiring the right staff is crucial to any church. Obviously, good hiring applies to leaders of a volunteer organization, sports team or business, as well. One of the keys to a great hire is the first interview.

I’ve found there are four keys to success in the initial step of an interview process.

Key 1: Make sure there’s a very clear, fairly comprehensive job description available to candidates before your first interview. This will weed out candidates who realize they’re not a good fit and equip candidates who are a good fit to go to deeper levels of discussion when you do talk to or meet with them.

Key 2: Have your most important four or five questions ready to ask going into the interview. Listen carefully to the responses, and take copious notes. These notes will be crucial for you to refer back to later in the process or for others who’ll help you make the hiring decision.


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Key 3: Money, money, money. Find out what salary expectations the candidate has, or let the candidate know what the financial package looks like. While you typically won’t go into the entire benefits package at the beginning of the process, it helps to know you’re in the same ballpark.
One time — years ago — we got to the final stage with a candidate and even brought the candidate in from Boston. (I’m in Chicago.) It was then that we engaged in financial discussions, only to realize that we were off by 50 percent and couldn’t afford this guy. We could have saved tons of energy, time, resources and hope by covering the topic at the beginning of the process.

Even volunteers like to and need to be reminded that this is a volunteer position. If there are other “perks,” this could be a time to mention them.

Key 4: Make next steps clear. If you’re going to get back to candidates only if you’re moving forward, let them know. If you’re sending an e-mail, let them know. If you know you’re going to ask them back for another interview based on the first interview, then let them know next steps right away.

If you implement these 4 keys to an initial interview, your candidates will greatly appreciate it, and you and your team will be set up extremely well for the next step.

Remember also that God cares about who’s going to be on your staff or team. Pray for wisdom, discernment and clarity of thought as you go through the process. Remember the encouragement of Proverbs 3:5-6 — Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.

Interviewing and hiring is a process that’s crucial to have Godly wisdom and God’s help on, too. Don’t forget about including Him!

Live well. Lead well.

EricRojasEric Rojas loves his role as the executive pastor of Christ Community Church in St. Charles, IL, where he oversees a staff of 120 and serves alongside Senior Pastor Jim Nicodem. He has been on staff at CCC since 2000. During his 20+ years of ministry, Rojas has served in churches as a youth pastor, adult ministries pastor, small groups pastor, associate pastor, worship pastor and men’s pastor. He is a contributing author for Group Publishing’s Men’s Ministry in the 21st Century and has written for various magazines and websites. Rojas also serves the church-at-large through consulting and seminar presenting. He has been married to his wife, Rachel, for 22 years. They have 3 children — Luke, 21; Adam, 19; and Chloe, 17. A man of faith, Rojas believes that next year is the year the Cubs will finally win the World Series.

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