For about 15 years I spent much of my work life hiring summer staff for our camps. I have also had the privilege of building a team in our corporate office here in Nashville. I can tell you stories of mistakes I made and surprises that exceeded all expectations. Here are 4 tips for getting the right people on your team.
- Don’t hire for what you can do for them but for what they can do for you. In 1991, I was about to start interviewing for approximately 300 positions which took me all over the United states and over 500 interviews. As I was about to walk out the door a coworker, Deane Hartzell, gave me a list of 5 tips for hiring. One has remained with me all these years. Don’t hire for what you can do for them but for what they can do for you. Many times I sat across from a young college or seminary student thinking how great this position would be for them, how they would grow and learn and how the staff team could invest in them. I was always reminded of what Deane told me. We are here to minister to kids and students, and my responsibility was to get the best staff.
- When in doubt, don’t hire. This comes from the leadership book Good to Great and is a great tip for anyone hiring. Often as we got closer to our hiring deadline we begin to feel the press of needing to get someone in the position rather than waiting, or working, to get the right person. If you don’t feel you have the right person then don’t settle. Wait until you are confident you have the right person. Never settle!
- Trust the references, sort of. Always remember that people choose references that they believe will say great things about them. If you get a bad one, pay close attention. That reference knows something you don’t and probably won’t know until after they are hired. If you want to get a better perspective, ask the reference to give you the name of one or two people who know the candidate well, and then call them for a reference.
- Trust your instincts. If there is something that just doesn’t feel right then it probably isn’t. Don’t second guess yourself, just don’t hire them.
There has been no greater joy in my professional career than working with young adults who are eager to learn, love the Lord, and want to do His work. They work tirelessly for many hours each day at camp and pour into the lives of kids every minute of the day. The most important thing we all do is hire, train, and mentor those who work for us. You won’t always get it right (I have my share of stories), but you can never settle, never ask enough questions and never call enough references. Pray and trust that God will give you direction and wisdom.