Church Law Guide Blog

Five Practices to Hiring the Right Employees for Your Church or Faith-Based Organization

Hiring new employees in any business can be a challenge, but hiring employees for your faith-based organization can be especially challenging.  Finding the right fit culturally and professionally requires some forethought by the employer to determine what personality and skills will actually be a good fit and benefit the organization.  Take the following suggestions into consideration before you start the interview process.

1. Make a List of the Essential Job Functions

Once you’ve discovered that it is time to expand your team of employees, spend sometime thinking about the list of qualifications you need the new hire to meet.  Make a list of absolute qualifications that the candidate must have and then a list of bonus qualifications that will help set candidates apart.  Be sure to double-check your lists to ensure that they are not unlawfully discriminatory.

Discriminating against an employee or a job applicant based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information is unlawful under federal and state employment law. There is, however, an exception for religious organizations as they can lawfully refuse to hire applicants of a different faith so long as the job requirements are directly related to the practice of that faith.

If you are unsure about the kinds of questions that are lawful or unlawful, contact an employment law attorney in your area to you help walk through the process of fine-tuning your hiring practices and make them compliant with federal regulations.

2. Determine What Makes an Employee Successful in Your Organization

Each organization is unique and employees require a specific skill set to excel within your particular business.  Take a look at the employees that you consider to be successful in your organization and look for those characteristics in the job applicants.

Keep in mind that soft skills are often a necessary component to success within a company but they are frequently overlooked in the interview process.  How will the candidate interact with your customers?  What problem solving skills do they have?  Will they become easily frustrated?  These are all important factors that may not come across during the resume review.

3. Conduct a Practical Interview

One of the best ways to determine whether or not a job candidate will be able to preform the work you’re hiring them to do is to administer a practical exam during the interview process.  Ask the candidate to look at a particular problem that occurs frequently in your organization and ask them how they would go about solving it.  There doesn’t have to be one right answer, but watching the job applicant work through a problem that he or she will have to handle on a regular basis can be quite informative to you as the employer.

4. Assess the Candidate’s Fit with the Team

Although working remotely is becoming more and more popular, most employees do not work in isolation.  Think about the team the candidate would work with, which role he or she will play, and the other personality types on the team.  Look for a good personality fit and look for somebody who works well with others.  It won’t do your organization any good to have a talented teammate that nobody is able to work with.

5. Make a Group Decision

If your employee will be working with a group, allow the team members to weigh in.  The individuals on the team will work with the new hire on a daily basis, so allow them to have an opinion about who will fill the empty role.

If you are unsure about the best hiring process to use in selecting new employees, reach out to a local employment law attorney or a hiring coach to help you design a process that works for your organization. The time you spend up front getting it right will undoubtedly help the success of your organization.

“You can have the best strategy and the best building in the world, but if you don’t have the hearts and minds of the people who work with you, none of it comes to life.”

Renee West,
Luxor and Excalibur Hotel


Asha Wilkerson is the founder of The Wilkerson Law Office.  She is also the author of Employment Law for Church Leaders. Ms. Wilkerson provides skilled advice and counsel to for-profit, non-profit, and faith-based organizations in the areas of business and employment law.  The mission of The Wilkerson Law Office, is to preserve the longevity of your business by ensuring that every aspect of your organization is legally sound and operating in compliance with state and federal law.