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Ministry Staff Team Summary

I’ve introduced the topic of choosing a quality ministry staff team,  I’ve covered Hiring Quality #1 “Love Your Spouse” and I’ve wrote about Hiring Quality #2 “Love the Church” and I’ve tackled the most important Hiring Quality, #3 “Love the Lord.” Interviewing, reading resumes, checking references, and discussing a candidates strengths and weaknesses are all a part of the process, but this week I  covered the three most important hiring qualities that I’m seeking.  It should go without saying, that I also want qualified indiviudals with a high capacity to lead without constant direction from me.  If a person isn’t qualified, they won’t get an interview.  If that person interviewed isn’t qualified, they won’t get the job.  Make sense?

Here are some other interview tips from my years of seeking those qualified individuals:

  • Don’t cry.  Crying in an interview is rarely ever appropriate.  You ask, “Who would cry in an interview?”  Well, you’d be surprised how often it happens.
  • If you can’t say something nice about a past employer, then don’t say anything at all.  One could also try and find the good that came about through a what may have been a bad situation.  My experience tells me that bitterness, frustration, and problems from a previous job will often find themselves present in a new job.  Just sayin’…
  • For God’s sake, dress appropriately.  If it’s a business environment please dress business casual.  I’d also like to say a little something special to the women…That thing you wear that makes men stare…leave it at home.  That is all.  Thank You.  This is not about me stumbling, this is about your maturity level and respect for those around you.
  • Be on time.  Not 30 minutes early, and not 1 minute late!
  • Bring a copy of any updates to the resume I have on file.
  • Take notes of things that will pertain to you working for me and be sure that you end every interview by asking tons of questions about the position.  I’m constantly shocked about how many people will have no questions for me about the job they hope to get.  That’s a big sign of laziness to me as the boss.
  • Don’t ever, under any circumstances tell me that God told you that He was going to give you this job.  Seriously, keep it to yourself…
  • If you have an email address that begins with ‘fuzzycherrybomb392805’ then change it please.  That also goes for the 50 Cent-themed voicemail greeting that you have on your phone.  Grow up please.
  • Take time to think through your answers to my questions.  There is no hurry.
  • Please answer my questions.  Do not deflect, and never leave a question unanswered.
  • Spit out your gum.
  • Tell me your faults.  What are you learning to be better at?  Humility is important to every employer and REALLY important to me.
  • When interviewing at a church, always demonstrate an ability to be flexible and open to change.
  • Feel free to compliment me on how good looking my family is.  Their pictures are everywhere, it’s natural.  Go ahead and just admit that you think we are all adorable.  Seriously, I love a little small talk.  Don’t be afraid to just act friendly.

Jonathan Cliff is married to his wife Starr and they together live out their days with two sons and a daughter. Jonathan serves as one of the Pastors at Grace Community Church in Clarksville, Tennessee; where he works with leaders throughout the city to help develop Christian community that leads to deep and meaningful spiritual friendships. His journey has been an adventurous one, having served in the local church for 15 years in family ministry developing leaders, building environments for kids and students to belong, and encouraging parents to take big spiritual steps with their families.


  1. Larry Shallenberger · June 11, 2010

    My personal favorite: Don’t quote the hot ministry book, just tell me what you’ve accomplished.

    The last time I went to hire I youth pastor I got so many “book reports” on Doug Fields. All this did was make me wish Doug wanted to join a much smaller church and work for me. Just didn’t need reminders that I couldn’t have that. I can’t predictor your future behavior without knowing your past performance.

    • Jonathan Cliff · June 11, 2010

      That’s funny. I’ll call that the “Book Report Syndrome.” I wish more people would just be honest and say, “I don’t have the experience of this working, but I’m going to work my tail off to make it happen here if you hire me!”

  2. Courtney · June 11, 2010

    Great post. I feel like these apply to any position, and I love the tell me your faults. It’s usually the one we all work so hard to cover up, but I think it says a lot when you can honestly share them up front.

    • Jonathan Cliff · June 11, 2010

      Just so long as your faults don’t include the following wretched comments,

      I work too hard for the organizaitons I serve.


      I just love people too much!


      I’m so good at my job, that I look down on others too often.


  3. Theresa Haskins · June 11, 2010

    I have been working in the field of HR for many, many years! I think your post applies to everyone (not just Church). Great work!

  4. Sam · June 16, 2010

    Ha! JC these are a hoot. I have never interviewed for a job but if I ever do I make sure I wear my half tshirt, bring a pack of hubba-bubba and be able to quote Maxwell likes it’s my job.

    Great post my friend.

  5. Jonathan Cliff · June 16, 2010

    Walking in with a Yankees hat would be career suicide in my office!