Choosing the Right Staff


Finding the right fulltime staff for your church or ministry is a huge step. Whether it is your first staff appointment or another team member, having the right people in place will help you reach your vision and could save you from the unnecessary headaches that come from choosing the wrong people.

When looking for any new staff, many have suggested suggests it is important to look for the following:

  • Character: the heart and integrity of a Christian leader.
  • Calling: all Christians are called to ministry but is your potential staff person called to the specific ministry role you are looking at.
  • Chemistry: the degree to which a person fits within the ministry team and culture.
  • Competency: the candidate’s experience and skill set which includes education, experience and fit with the position.

To choose the potential new staff person, interviews have been used as the primary means of determining the suitability of a person. Unfortunately, even if you are an extremely intuitive interviewer and well-trained in this process, there are many reasons why accurately assessing whether a person will fit the proposed role, using only an interview process is nearly impossible.

  • Interviewers seldom have access to the dozens of behavioural factors that either promote or inhibit success for any ministry position.
  • Some people are skilful at being interviewed. However, being skilful at an interview usually does not relate to ministry effectiveness and therefore it often confuses the interviewer into thinking that such skilfulness will translate to success in the role.
  • Interviewers are biased. Research clearly shows that interviewers routinely give favourable responses to people who are similar to themselves, and less favourable responses to people who are different from themselves. In the end, the result is very likely to come down to how well the interviewer likes the candidate rather than how well the candidate fits the requirements of the role.

Research shows that although interviewing is important, it only has a moderate ability to predict effectiveness and success.

So, before you even interview a potential new staff person, it is important to have all the information possible on the potential candidate. This process can give you a reasonable level of predictive accuracy for future success, on its own, without any interview.

This information will include:
  • Personal references: These should include insights from a number of people who know the person well and answer some of the Character and Calling questions.
  • Professional references: These should include insights from a number of people who have worked with the person and answer some of the Chemistry and Competency questions.
  • Résumé: This should give you further insights in to the Competency questions.  

These sources will provide you with a basic range of information about the candidate but each have their weaknesses and limitations. One of the best ways to increase the quality of the information is to make additional use of a pre-interview questionnaire or assessment that looks deeper, especially into the areas of Chemistry and Competency. If well-designed, these assessments ask an applicant to provide a range of information which may include personal preferences, motivations and interests, aspirations, leadership expectations and even perceived strengths and development needs.

Choosing the Right Staff using a Harrison Assessment

The Harrison Assessment (and its Job Success Formulas) measure and score Eligibility and Suitability along side the interview process and then creates a formula that weights each factor and scores the different response levels of each factor.

  • Eligibility: This includes previous experience, education, skills, abilities, aptitude and points for reference checking.
  • Suitability: This includes attitude, motivation, interpersonal skills, task preferences, interests, and work environment preferences.

The Harrison Assessment is also unique in that it identifies counter-productive behavioural traits (traits to avoid) that can derail success. These are not obvious to the questionnaire -taker as there are combinations of traits that are paradoxical.

The tool does not type-cast and has 175 separate traits as its base. To illustrate different aspects of suitability, here are some examples of job behaviour factors that could be relevant to a specific ministry role. These are just a small sample of more than one hundred important suitability factors that could relate to an individual’s effectiveness and success.

  • What types of things will an applicant accomplish or put off?
  • What motivates them?
  • How will they communicate, influence and lead?
  • How well can they handle autonomy, freedom and responsibility?
  • How much initiative will they take?
  • How much will they persist when faced with obstacles?
  • How innovative will they be?
  • How much will they accept and respond appropriately to feedback?
  • To what degree will they become autocratic, dogmatic, dictatorial or controlling?
  • How much will they resist change and/or be rigid?
  • What behaviours will they exhibit under stress?
  • How much will they be blunt or harsh in their communications?
  • How much will they tend to be blindly optimistic, impulsive, illogical or easily influenced?
  • To what degree will they avoid difficult decisions?
  • How well will they organize and handle details?
  • How much will they be scattered or chaotic in their approach to projects or planning?
  • How much will they seek to learn, grow and excel?
  • What kind of recognition do they need?
  • As a leader, how well will they provide direction?
  • How well do they handle conflicts?
  • How reasonable will they be when assessing the value of their contributions to the ministry?

Interview: As mentioned before the interview is an important part of a whole process but unfortunately candidates are often highly prepared for an interview. They are now bombarded with information about how best to hide their weaknesses and exaggerate their strengths. The unique feature of the Harrison Assessment interview is that it includes questions that target weaker areas in the candidate (against the Job Success Formula) so that doubts can be confirmed or put to rest.

Job Behaviour Assessments As Compared To Personality Assessments

Personality Assessments have been available for about 60 years. Some of them have obtained a great deal of validation research. However, it is important to understand that they are not actually job behaviour assessments and such validation is not relevant to job success. In most cases, the validation simply means that the assessment favourably compares with other means of assessing personality. Many people are fooled into thinking that this large amount of research indicates that they are valid and useful tools for job assessment. In fact, many of those assessments specifically state that the instrument does not predict job success. It makes no sense to use an assessment for role selection that was never designed for that purpose.

Summarising the Value and Challenges of Assessment

Effectively assessing both Eligibility and Suitability is the essential foundation necessary to hire, retain and develop great staff. To do so requires a job success formula. Interviewing does not effectively assess job behaviour unless it is conducted using a job behaviour assessment. Effective job behaviour assessment requires the ability to measure more than 100 traits, a questionnaire that is work-focused, the ability to detect false answers and/or self-deception, a specific job success formula derived from performance research. Harrison Assessments meets all of the standards mentioned above, providing a powerful tool for assessment. It enables you to build a strong foundation for your staff selection, retention and development.

The Harrison Assessment is the only assessment method that:

  • Uses a full spectrum of behavioural assessments, including personality, interests, work environment preferences and task preferences.
  • Uses a high-tech questionnaire that provides the equivalent of a full day of testing in only 30 minutes.
  • Uses a technological consistency detector that provides an extremely reliable validation of the authenticity of the answers.
  • Can be effectively applied without professional interpretation.
  • Uses the power of paradox to decipher subtleties and complexities of personality related to job performance.
  • Offers complete customisation to specific job requirements.

Looking for a reasonable level of predictive accuracy for future success in a candidate will be enhanced if you use the Harrison Assessment Job Success Formula.

For more information:

Colin is the Director of ResourceZone International. He has 30 years of ministry experience as a pastor, college lecturer and consultant/coach to consultants, denominational leaders, church planters and local church pastors. He can be reached at

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