How to Lose Your Strongest Candidate


When it comes to staffing at your church, it’s our shared goal at Slingshot to hire the best quality candidate in the shortest time at the lowest cost. We know how important it is for you to steward your time and funds well. However, in the eagerness to fill a position, the experience of the candidates who your leadership team is interviewing often gets lost in the priorities of the hiring process.

Whether positive or negative, candidates are more and more likely to share their experience with their sphere of influence – a family member, a friend, social media followers, your other “customers.” After interviewing at your church, would they apply again? Will they encourage a friend to apply? If they are an attendee, will they still attend, invite, serve, and give? I hope the answer to all of those questions is a resounding “yes.” If it’s not, it might be time to do some digging into how you can make the hiring process a better experience for your candidates.

Here are 3 ways you can LOSE your strongest candidates:



Failure to plan is planning to fail. If you don’t set expectations, goals and determine your selection process, you’ll waste valuable time, energy, and resources. Start with the end in mind and take time to clearly lay out the details. Other than having a detailed job description, here are some great questions to answer before you connect with a candidate:

  • Do your current resources and structure support bringing a candidate into this role? What changes are needed to set this new team member up for success in your organization?
  • What are you willing to pay a candidate who meets all of the must-have criteria and can hit the ground running?
  • Who are the stakeholders in this decision? What role do the stakeholders play in leading this person once they are hired?
  • What metrics are in place to determine success in this role? How will you communicate those expectations to the candidate?
  • Where do you want to spend leadership energy on this new team member (And you will spend energy — there is no perfect candidate)? Is the person who will lead this position better equipped to develop a new team member in one area over another?
  • What is your DNA and how will you recognize it in a candidate? Checkboxes are great! Consider making a checklist of your church’s Core Values/Team Code and ask specific questions around those values to learn if there’s a match.

Now, I know. We’ve got to leave some room for flexibility, but you can’t flex a plan that doesn’t already exist. A strong candidate will sense the absence of a plan and will be turned off by a completely unstructured process.



The interview process can take awhile. We want to do our due diligence and prayerfully consider each step for every candidate. However, an unnecessary delay in the process is maddening for the person on the other end. How you communicate with the candidate will set the tone for what is expected of them as a team member — lead strong here.

Pastor Craig Groeschel says, “Decide when you are going to decide.” I love that! When a step in the process has been completed, determine when you will decide the next one, and how you will communicate that decision. Set expectations, create a reminder and follow through (



Let me be the first to confess that I’m guilty of this one. When I’m checking the boxes, asking my questions, scheduling the interviews and sending communication, I’m trying to be efficient, consistent, and forward-moving.

The interview process can be so weird, right? We’re evaluating, judging, interviewing, and making some pretty life-altering and ministry-impacting decisions based on limited information. Slow down, pray with the candidate, be relational, and don’t just move on. These are humans with feelings and families and dreams. Listen and care.

God is in this. Trust and yield. Trust that He cares about this more than you do, and that He’s going to provide wisdom and direction. Then, when He does, yield to what He shows you.


So, how do we steward these connections well through the hiring process? Here are the Big 3 Be’s:


  • Be Clear

Clear communication starts with the job posting. If the posting is attracting all the wrong candidates and none of the right ones, let’s change it. If a salary request is out of range, discuss it early. If there’s a question mark, dig gently until you have your answer. If you know the non-negotiables, talk about them.


  • Be Trustworthy

In the early screening process, we seek to learn about the candidate’s ability to follow instructions, follow through, and follow up. So, how are we at follow-through? If we tell a candidate that we will be in touch, does that touch happen? Expectations can make or break the candidate’s feeling about your church. “Here’s what the process looks like…” “Here’s where we are in the process…” “Here’s when you will hear from me…”


  • Be Considerate

Think back… for some of you, WAY back. When you applied to work at your church, how many of your eggs were in that basket? I’m guessing many of you would answer “all of them.” Remember what that can feel like. For many of our applicants, this is their dream job with their dream church.


One more tip: One of the many ways that candidates are doing their research and/or providing feedback is through Take a few seconds to see if your organization is already listed there — if not, then set up a free employer account. Survey your current staff, and start building out your employer profile.



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