Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Hey Fletch! We are a small but growing church that typically hires from within our own membership. We are considering adding an employment application but don’t know where to begin. Can you recommend a good resource for what kind of questions to ask (and what is too personal?) As we’ve experienced growth and haven’t had as long to get to know prospective applicants, we’ve been surprised by a few situations that seem like they would be discovered via a thorough application process instead of a “handshake over lunch” process. Thanks!

DRF—You need an employment application for everyone that you interview! It should be kept on file for 7 years after hiring a person or 4 years after not hiring the individual. 

Here is a sample employment application that we posted on XPastor. Use this as a basis for your own form. XPastor supplies this information for education purposes only. Consult an attorney or labor specialist to determine the needs and laws in your state. Remember that your state may have provisions above and beyond federal requirements.

Support staff (non-ministerial) are covered by lots of rules and regulations. As a church, you can hire only people of like faith. Yet, be careful not to ask the wrong sort of questions. For example, do not ask:

    • Questions that requires a person to reveal their age or birthdate.
    • Questions that force one to reveal protected data; such as race, national origin, or disability.
    • Questions that require the person to send a picture.
    • Questions about being married or maiden name.
    • Questions about languages spoken, unless it’s a job requirement.

However, in the interview, the candidate may volunteer information about their spouse or children. At that point, it is fair to ask about their family.

There are few rules about what questions you can or cannot ask a pastoral candidate. Pastors are in a special category as religious leaders. As such, they get little help from fair hiring laws. You can, and should, dig deep into their lives. Ensure that your pastors fully meet your qualifications for spiritual leadership.

Always ask for permission to do a background check on the applicant. Do not hire someone without a background check!