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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comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 

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