Recruiting Candidates

March 20, 2014 — Leave a comment

After understanding your core philosophical convictions, building a healthy staff team requires an interview and hiring process.  At The Austin Stone, we have a process of candidacy, interviewing, assessment and hiring:

  1. Do We Need To Hire?
  2. What Role Are You Trying To Fill?
  3. Identifying Candidates for Your Team
  4. Recruiting Candidates for Your Team
I pray these posts are helpful to those of you hiring people, and those of you hoping to be hired!

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Recruiting Candidates

The following are the places to look for candidates, ordered according to priority and likelihood of finding a match:

  1. Internal to the church
  2. Direct relationship to our team (Friends)
  3. One relationships removed from our team (Friends of friends)
  4. Unsolicited or unknown candidates

Briefly, I will highlight the opportunities and possible difficulties of candidates from each area.

Internal Candidates

In an ideal world, we would always have someone ready to be hired for a position who has been developed internally in our churches.  Internal candidates are a symptom of a healthy culture of leadership development and are most often the most consistent with the DNA of the church.

With respect to hiring internally, there are several observations that I have made.  First, there is both a pro and a con with an internal candidate in that you typically know both their strengths and weaknesses very well.  In a hiring process, I have found that most people tend to weight the weaknesses of an internal candidate more heavily, and look more favorably on an external candidate.  Most people are predisposed to look favorably and hopefully on the unknown, so ensure that you take this into account if you are comparing two candidates.

Pros on Hiring Internally

  • Candidates have a much higher of likelihood of having the culture you are looking for
  • Preexisting relationships and community can make for a seamless transition in community
  • Typically you know what to expect with the individual

Cons on Hiring Internally

  • Because of a relationship, you may have a tendency to overreach on a candidate without the requisite skills or capacity you want
  • Assumed knowledge of the culture can often lead to conflict

Direct Relationships

This kind of hire has been the best pipeline for high-capacity, strong culture fit individuals who can contribute to the team right away.

Pros on Hiring External Direct Relationships

  • The preexisting relationship sets a good tone for culture fit
  • Higher likelihood of high capacity individuals with experience
  • Outside experience can contribute helpful knowledge and culture to your team

Cons on Hiring External Direct Relationships

  • Depending on the dynamic of the relationship, it can be difficult to cultivate an employee/employer dynamic
  • A possibility of unmet expectations based on the candidates understanding of the organization

Friends of Friends

This pool of people is most often tapped for most organizations.  Candidates are recommended based on knowledge of your organization and the candidate from another person.

Pros on Hiring Friends of Friends

  • The preexisting relationship sets a good tone for culture fit
  • Higher likelihood of high capacity individuals
  • Outside experience can contribute helpful knowledge and culture to your team

Cons on Hiring Friends of Friends

  • Depending on the dynamic of the relationship, it can be difficult to cultivate an employee/employer dynamic
  • It can be tempting to not fully explore the area of culture fit, making assumptions in this area based on the word of the outside recommender.

Unknown Candidates

Unknown candidates are interesting, because they are completely unknown quantities.  For the optimist, and unknown candidate has all the potential in the world, but for a pessimist, almost no potential.  Regardless of which way you see the fullness of the glass, these kinds of candidates present some interesting opportunities and challenges.

Pros on Unknown Candidates

  • A distinct possibility of a high capacity candidate emerging
  • If the role is well defined, there is a higher likelihood for expectation match
  • Outside experience can contribute helpful knowledge and culture to your team

Cons on Unknown Candidates

  • Unknown candidates carry a great risk when it comes to culture fit
  • A possibility of a person becoming a “hired hand” rather than a shepherd of the church

What else would you add to this list?

Todd Engstrom

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Although I was raised in the church and had a knowledge of God, I didn’t embrace Jesus until I heard gospel preached and lived out by some Young Life leaders. God has proven faithful and good to me since that day, even in great suffering and loss. I have learned to treasure Romans 8:28 as a wellspring of hope and truth. God has blessed me with an amazing wife (Olivia), three sons (Micah, Hudson and Owen) and a daughter (Emmaline). Growing up in the northwest, the thought never crossed my mind that I would have four children who are native Texans. Despite landing in the south, I still watch Notre Dame games with my children every Saturday in hopes they will land at my alma mater.

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