Red Flags When Interviewing for Your Staff Team

In my role at LifeWay, there are more than 500 employees in the division I am responsible to lead. As we have been looking to bring passionate people to the team who are deeply committed to our mission of serving churches in their mission of making disciples, I have been involved in a lot of interviews.

If you are a leader, you know that having the right players on the team is absolutely essential in fulfilling the mission the Lord has given your ministry. Thus, the recruiting and interviewing process is very important. In looking back at all the interviews I have been a part of, here are five red flags that give me great caution in taking a next step with a potential team member.

1 – No questions

If someone asks no questions, it gives me the impression that they are passive, that they are not the type to take initiative, and that they don’t possess a holy curiosity that is going to nudge them to learn, explore, and look for more effective ways to serve. It also gives the impression that they are a bit cold, unable to have a conversation, to engage, to lead people somewhere.

2 – Bad questions

I like questions because I learn more about a candidate by the questions they ask. And bad questions are very revealing about a person’s work ethic, passions, goals, and priorities. I won’t reveal all the bad questions because I still have more interviews to lead, but here are a few:

The question: How many hours do I need to work?

What I think: This may be someone who wants to punch a clock. I want people driven by a calling, not by a clock.

The question: What will my title be?

What I think: This may be someone who is more concerned about personal platform than the mission the Lord has given us.

3 – Excuses

Because the past is often a great indicator of the future, I am going to ask questions about past performance, faithfulness, and impact. I am not looking for perfection but a track record. Excuses are a major red flag because it shows the person is unable to own his/her responsibilities fully. I would much rather a person say, “Here is where I blew it and the lessons I learned.”

4 – Negative comments about current leaders

The person who bashes his/her current leaders or team members will be the same person who brings that toxic attitude into our culture. No thank you.

5 – Over-negotiation

When someone over-negotiates salary, benefits, or some other aspect of the role, I quickly get turned off. I think either (a) the person is not overly excited about the role as it is presented or (b) the person has an inflated view of her/himself and this will never end. I may be oversensitive to over-negotiation, but I tend to be the one who walks away.

Red flags are great. They prevent you from continuing down a path that won’t be fruitful and best for the team and ministry for which you are responsible. Pay attention to them.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger serves as the Vice President of the Church Resource Division at LifeWay Christian Resources. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. He is also a teaching pastor and a frequent speaker and consultant on church mission and strategy. Eric authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, playing with his daughters, and shooting basketball.

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COMMENTS

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Recent Comments
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 
A great question! Unfortunately, the Church Unique Kit is no longer available in print form. We are working on revising it and updating it into an online experience, but that project is at least six months out. An alternative is to come to an upcoming certification class. There is one May 15-18 in Houston, and October 23-26 in Atlanta.
 
— VRcurator
 

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