4 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Hiring An Employee

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I have hired or been a part of hiring several employees. Some have turned out to be great employees while others were not. Over the years, I hope that I have become better at identifying those employees who will be great through continued education and learning from my successes and failures.

I have learned that great employees are capable, hard-working team players you can trust. Before I place an offer on the table to a prospective employee, I try to have four questions on trust answered. Here are four questions to ask yourself before hiring an employee:

1. Can I trust them to do the job well?

Some employees are able to jump into a new position and immediately excel. Others need some ramp up time to learn the nuances of the role. I am fine with either. Like Jim Collins, I believe that it is simply important to get the right people on the bus. It is not a matter of trusting them to excel at their job from day one, but trusting in their capacity and internal motivation to learn the job over a reasonable time and then excel.

2. Can I trust their work habits?

Are they known for procrastination? Do they have a history of tardiness? Do they have a silo-mentality? Does the candidate have the drive to innovate, or do they appear to be content managing the status quo? Will you or someone else have to push him/her to do his/her job? Work habits can be difficult to assess during interviews. Look for trends in their comments about prior work. Check references. Try to contact their prior employer. It is worth the effort.

3. Can I trust that they will represent the organization and myself well?

Team members are an extension of the team leader. More often than not, the employee will meet with customers, church members, or other employees much more frequently than you will be able to. Can you trust that the words they say and the actions they take will represent the values of the organization well? Will their interaction and actions support the team’s vision or, whether intentionally or unintentionally, undermine the vision?

4. Do they trust me?

I am not perfect.  I don’t expect my ideas to always be left unchallenged. Neither should you. As a matter of fact, to be left completely unchallenged is a dangerous place for any leader to be. However, a constant questioning of decision-making or vision will leave any leader spinning their wheels. At the end of the day, after input has been received and ideas are vetted, you need someone who can trust you.

Certainly, you don’t see the fullness of these qualities in an employee until they are in the job, and continued development will bring positive growth. But establishing trust doesn’t begin with the first day on the job. It begins from the first meeting with a prospective employee, and cannot be missed in the hiring process.

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10 thoughts on “4 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Hiring An Employee

  1. Timely message for me. We are looking to hire a secretary at church. The last one gave us trouble and we are hesitant. But we have to move on and need to know if we can trust someone who does not go to church with us (we don’t know them). I have all the right HR questions to ask, but when it boils right down to it – we have to hire someone that we really trust!

    • Thank you for the comment, John. I pray that you will be able to find someone you can trust. As with many roles in the church, the secretary/assistant is entrusted with much information, sometimes personal information, and is very much an extension of the church’s leadership.

  2. One of my biggest ongoing disappointments over the decades has been my employers hiring for skills and not for character.

    I can teach and modify skill sets pretty quickly but I cannot teach or modify character.

    Every exemplary or disastrous employee was that way because of their character, not because of knowledge or experience.

    The law is fairly straightforward in what and how you can interview but the one question that almost always seals the deal for me is to ask the 4 required work references: “If this person was to re-apply to your organization for an opening, would you hire them again?” Just the voice inflection says it all.

    • I completely agree, Keith. You could easily include the question, “Can I trust their character?,” on this post. It is more assumed in the current four questions. Thank you for your wise words on character and checking references.

      • “Character” is one of those terms that means many different things to different people so I have avoided using it in this context. Specific questions regarding the evidence or indicators of proper character would be very appropriate.

  3. Great article. Ive heard it said many times, “It’s easier to hire than fire”. Ive seen churches hurt very badly by asst pastors with their own agendas. It’s so vital to get the right person in the job. Thanks for these tips.