How to Interview for Quality Work Ethic

by Kendal Drinkwine, Vanderbloemen Search Group

When church leaders hire someone without a lot of initiative, they could ultimately add more work to the other staff members' plates. But it's hard to know whether or not you've hired someone with quality work ethic until they've already started the job. 

The interview process is a great time to try to gauge the candidate's ability to do quality work on your church staff team. Below you will find questions to ask both the candidate and yourself in the interview process to see if they will add value and be able to do their job well.

Here are nine questions to assess a candidate's work ethic.

1. How do you remind yourself to complete projects and tasks?

When I am given a job or task, I make sure I write it down in my planner. Every day I go into work, I make sure to organize my day by what I need to do and when I need to do it. I never want to forget a task that has been given to me and expected to be completed it in a timely fashion.

Does this person have a process for not forgetting important details of their role? If they don’t, they could possibly be missing the importance of working hard and completing deadlines.

2. Are deadlines a rule or a guideline?

Deadlines are important. They give weight to the tasks that need to be completed well and in a timely fashion. If the person you are hiring does not see deadlines as important, that means they will most likely not follow yours as you'd expect. Can they meet expectations and complete things well and quickly?

3. Which of your previous positions were not a great fit for you and why? Which positions were a great fit and why?

Responses like “I needed less work hours” or “The office was really close to my house” is not what you are looking for here. If this person is looking for a job that is convenient and easy, they likely do not have a drive to work hard. If the candidate you are interviewing is looking for a challenge and ready for something that will stretch them, that is the kind of person you want on your team.

You want someone on your team who is moldable and teachable.

4. When your superior comes to you with a problem they want you to fix but you don’t know how, what do you do?

This person should be willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done. Google is an amazing tool; you can pretty much learn how to do anything. If the answer can’t be found on Google, they should seek out a person who knows how who can teach them the ropes.

You are hiring an additional person to help take a load off, not give you more work.

5. What is your view on work-life balance?

This person should enjoy work. I love my job, so therefore I work hard and am happy to do it. Does this potential hire talk about work in a good light or are they dying to leave by the end of the day?

This is not to say you should hire a workaholic. That is a recipe for burnout, but you do want to hire someone who wants to do the job and do it well. 

6. What motivates you in your work and career?

You want to hire a person who aspires for more than what is right in front of them. If you are interviewing someone who is happy to be in one position for the rest of their life, they are likely not someone who is up for a challenge. The people who are up for a challenge are going to be the ones who will go over and beyond what is asked of them.

Questions to ask yourself in the interview process:

7. Does this candidate have humility?

Do you see that this person will take constructive criticism or will they always find excuses? Will they take credit for work that they did not earn? There is a difference between hiring someone who is conceited and someone who is confident.

8. What has been the candidate’s responsiveness throughout the interview process?

If the candidate is taking a long time to respond to emails or phone calls, this might reflect how quickly they will get work done. If there is a project that you can give to the potential new hire, try giving it to them and see how well and how quickly they do it.

9. When calling references: What is their quality of work? Do they finish projects on time?

Make sure to be proactive about asking about this in their references. Ask about the person’s character and work ethic. You want to hire someone who is known to add value to a church or organization.

What are some other ways church leaders can determine work ethic during the interview phase?


This article was provided by our church executive search partner, Vanderbloemen Search Group. To learn more about Vanderbloemen Search Group's recruiting services and how they can help you fill your open position, click here. To read more insightful articles on Vanderbloemen's blog, click here..