Do you have a preferred path for making a hire at your church? Everything works better with a plan, including the selection of your next team member. The author of this article wrote up these steps of hiring as a homework assignment in the XPastor Online Course on Staffing. He now has a plan he can put in place should the need arise to hire a staff member. Learn from his experience and write a plan for your church.

Step 1: Create an Opportunity Profile

The first step in hiring a new employee is to know what you are looking for in a candidate. There are several components in an opportunity profile that will help a church determine what they need in the new hire. The opportunity profile begins with the mission, vision, and core values of the church. A church needs someone who is passionate about what the church is passionate about. If a candidate is not excited about what the church states as their mission, vision, and values, then he/she may not be a great fit. The profile also needs to include an overview of the church and community culture. A general description about the type of person the church is seeking, as well as the job description, should be a part of the opportunity profile.

Step 2: Receive Resumes

Next, the church should begin receiving resumes. Job boards, seminaries, personal connections, and search firms can be used to collect resumes. All resumes should be collected together in a digital format. They can then easily be emailed or placed on a file server for multiple individuals to access. They can also be printed for those who want paper copies. Sending resumes a few at a time can be confusing for team members. Keeping one digital location or file of all the resumes can help make sure all the resumes receive due diligence. Resumes can be removed from the digital folder or file as the process progresses. All of the resumes should go to one point of contact, a person who is in charge of keeping track and processing the files.

Step 3: Respond to All Applicants

All applicants should receive an email describing the search/hiring process, as well as an expectation of when to receive their next contact. If the process is delayed, an email should be send by the previous deadline explaining that the process has been delayed.

Step 4a: Initial Narrowing of Candidates

One to three key leaders should narrow the candidate list down to those they perceive may be a fit based upon the opportunity profile. The hiring minister needs to be one of these key leaders. The focus of this step is to remove the resumes that do not fit the opportunity profile. Resumes that stand out can be “starred” if so desired. The new set of resumes will be collected together in a file or placed together in a folder on a server. These resumes will then be forwarded to the personnel or search team.

Step 4b: Second Narrowing of Candidates

The personnel team will then analyze the narrowed collection of resumes and meet to discuss top candidates. The goal of the meeting will be to discover if five top candidates can be identified. The team also needs to be okay with having zero candidates and starting all over. If there are no candidates that fit the opportunity profile, then starting over is a better option than settling for a “best candidate” that is not really what you are looking for in the position. Having one or two candidates is also okay. The team should be looking for candidates that stand out. Do not get caught up in having a specific number but having more than five can bog down the process.

Step 5: Respond to Candidates that Do Not Fit the Profile

Send an email to the candidates letting them know they were not a fit. This is not a group email. Individual emails need to be sent. Detailed explanations as to why they are not being considered for the position are not needed. Just let them know they were not a fit and wish them well.

Step 6: Send a Questionnaire and Conduct a Phone Interview

A questionnaire should then be sent to all remaining candidates. Be sure to give the candidates a deadline for completion. While the team is waiting for the questionnaire, the hiring pastor should conduct a phone interview with each of these candidates. The purpose of this interview is for the hiring pastor to get to know each of these candidates. The interview can consist of talking through the resume, what they find interesting about the church, and why they are considering leaving their current position. Be sure to have them comment on the opportunity profile and what interests them about the job. The hiring pastor needs to take notes and share those notes with the personnel team. Narrow the candidate field if a candidate no long fits the profile.

Step 7: Conduct a Video Interview

The personnel team should conduct a video interview of each candidate. A collection of questions should be created and sent to the team before the interview. All team members should be encouraged to ask a question. The team will meet before each interview to discuss goals and to be on the same page during the interview. Narrow the candidate field if a candidate doesn’t fit the profile.

Step 8: In-Person Interview

The personnel team, along with key staff, should then conduct an in-person interview. The candidate field should be narrowed down to at most three. A personnel team leader or hiring minister should also take the candidate to lunch or dinner. A tour of the church, as well as the community, would be beneficial.

Step 9: Reference Check and Job Summary

Have the candidate send the church a one-page assessment of the vision, scope, and nature of the job. Also conduct reference and background checks. Gather all of the information and meet with the personnel team to make a final decision. The hiring pastor calls all eliminated candidates at this point.

Step 10: Conduct an “In View of Call” Weekend

Schedule a weekend for this minister to come in view of a call. All salary and benefit information should be shared before this weekend. Schedule different groups from the church to meet the candidate. Also, a teaching component may be needed according to the position. Call a business meeting to vote on hiring the new pastor/minister.