12 Warning Signs of Potentially Bad Church Hires

No church wants to make a bad hire, but many do. Sometimes that happens despite search teams, elders, etc., doing their job well – but it also happens because the team ignores some warning signals. Here are some signals churches have told me that they missed (or ignored) in the hiring process:

  1. Previously short tenures of ministry. One short tenure can be the anomaly of a bad church, but a person who has recurrently brief ministry jobs is likely part of the problem.
  2. Incomplete degrees. I’d want to know why an applicant started a degree but didn’t finish it. Education matters enough to wonder about the person who chose not to keep an educational commitment.   
  3. Sloppy resumes. In my opinion, anyone who submits a sloppy resume is likely to do sloppy work overall.
  4. Resume gaps. Some resumes are unintentionally incomplete, but others include intentional gaps – because the applicant doesn’t want to reveal something.
  5. Unasked theology questions. An applicant who never asks what the church believes might assume too much about the church or might not be deeply concerned about theology. Either issue would concern me.
  6. Criticizing former employers. The questions will likely come up in the interview process, and I’d want a candidate to be honest—but the candidate who does nothing but criticize and blame will likely do it again.
  7. No current references. Sometimes, the potential hire isn’t yet ready to reveal that he’s in the search process, so he doesn’t inform anyone in his current place of employment. That’s different, though, than never wanting a search team to contact the current employer.
  8. Tardiness without explanation. Unavoidable things happen that lead to being late, but not explaining the reason—as if tardiness really doesn’t matter—sends a bad signal.
  9. Spousal disagreement on calling. When spouses differ on God’s calling, that disagreement will show up somehow if/when the candidate is hired.
  10. Poor social media witness. The problem may be a past tense one when the candidate was younger and foolish, but present tense social media use that even borders on ungodliness should be alarming.
  11. Little talk of Bible study or prayer. People who live in the Word and talk to God regularly often naturally reveal these commitments. Candidates who never speak of these components of Christian living might tend to lead without doing either.
  12. Unlikeability. This one’s a bit difficult to assess, but you’ll recognize it when it’s there. Hiring someone you don’t enjoy in the interview process may create relational issues in the future. 

What would you add? 


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