When I'm interviewing multiple candidates for a job, it can become too easy to get caught up in certain aspects of an individual, or the chemistry you may have with one applicant, and lose sight of the big picture. For that reason, I have developed four words to guide my process and thinking.
Character does matter! You can hire the most competent financial person ever, but if their past character has proven them to be a crook, you will usually regret hiring them. Although there are some character assessment tools that can be helpful, you generally need to examine their past. This requires getting personal and professional references—then actually checking them out.
A business owner called me for counsel one day and she was very frustrated with herself. She told me that they had recently fired their bookkeeper, because the bookkeeper had embezzled $40,000. This business owner went on to tell me that they had asked for references, but had never checked them out.
After they discovered the fraud, she called the references. She discovered that every past employer she called had terminated this bookkeeper for theft. She said to me, “If only I had checked out the references before hiring the bookkeeper, I could have saved myself a lot of money and grief.”
Prayer is also a great tool in discovering someone’s character. In 1 Samuel 16:7, we read about Samuel and how he almost selected the wrong king, instead of selecting David as king. “The LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.’” If you sincerely ask, God can reveal what you need to know about an applicant’s character.
Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
If God prepared work for us to do in advance, then each of us should have a purpose or calling from God. If someone is simply looking for a job and a paycheck, they will not likely perform at their optimum.
When someone is operating out of a sense of calling, they will typically perform with passion and go the extra mile. It’s important to note, however, that many people do not know or understand that God has a calling for them vocationally. You may have to draw it out of them by asking about their passions, their interests, and what sort of things they have done in the past at work that have been easy and fun for them.
Although I believe competence is sometimes overrated during the hiring process, it is still important that you hire people who will be able to handle the job skillfully. If someone has the character and the calling they can often be trained in competence, but they still need to have evidence of skills that fits nicely with what’s expected of them.
If you find someone with character, calling, and competence then you have found a true treasure. Examining past work history is important when trying to discern someone’s level of competence, but look deep enough to discover those traits and skills that may be transferable to the position you have available.
For instance, I have helped several pastors over the years transition from working in a church to joining the marketplace. On a resume, their work experience may not look like a fit, yet when you look at the leadership skills, their training expertise, and other duties they performed in the past there are many positions that could work well.
Being aware of the culture of an organization is critical for a team to work well in unity. Each new person added to a team changes that culture to some extent. If you find two candidates for a job that both have strong character, they seem called to that type of position, and they’re competent, then selecting the person who will have the best chemistry with the team only makes sense. When people can work in harmony and enjoy working together, it makes the workplace fun and usually more productive.
It is important to note, however, that if everyone in your organization is just like you, many of you are irrelevant. You will need different people with different personalities and styles, to provide the diversity in your workplace necessary for a healthy team. The apostle Paul wrote at length in Romans and in his letters to the Corinthians about the body of Christ and how there are different body parts. The key is that the different parts need to work in unity and harmony. When possible, look to hire those who will fit nicely with your culture.
A question asked by many business owners is, “Should I only hire Christians?” I think that this is an issue that should be thought out very carefully. There are occasions when you definitely should only hire believers, such as a church, para-church, or other forms of ministry. However, if all businesses only hired Christians, they would primarily only be ministering to each other, with no effective evangelism going on in the workplace. I know several business owners that get great joy out of the evangelism that they are able to do right in their own workplace.
It is important that you prayerfully consider what God desires to do through your business. If he wants to use your business to witness to the staff, then there’s your answer. If on the other hand, you feel that you are called to “feed his sheep,” then you might be a discipler that is better served nurturing young believers in the faith. Whichever you feel called to do, remember that God desires excellence in the workplace. Be a light on the hill; if you have incompetent Christians at work your light will be dim.
"People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7b
By: Rick Boxx
Rick Boxx is the President and Founder of Integrity Resource Center, a nonprofit dedicated to building integrity and faith in the workplace. His daily “Integrity Moments” can be heard on 250 radio stations or received by email. To learn more about Integrity Resource Center and their Culture Consulting program for businesses visit: www.integrityresource.orgRead More Articles by Rick Boxx