What’s Your Candidate’s ‘Operating System’?

Discovering how they engage with Scripture can provide valuable insights.

If you’re hiring for a church or faith-based organization, you should know whether your team members are the right faith fit in the same way you test for a cultural fit before extending a job offer. Knowing what someone thinks about the Bible and how they read it could help you determine if they’re the right match for your team.

Today it’s much more difficult to tell what someone’s system of belief is. Consider what you know about your team members: What influences their worldview? How do they make decisions? What resources and thought leaders—particularly in ministry or faith-based work—do they rely on to teach and guide them?

It used to be that a Presbyterian church would hire a Presbyterian minister. That church knew for sure what the minister believed. According to Gallup, prior to 2000 half of all Americans belonged to a specific Protestant denomination. Now, due to the rise of the nondenominational church, just 30% do.

Because the nondenominational church keeps growing, and the denominational church keeps shrinking, your job candidates may come from many different church and theological traditions. So as you’re building a ministry team, the interview process is more crucial than ever in determining which candidate is the best fit.

The way people read the Bible is their “operating system.” Think of it like culture: Hiring for culture over competency is so important because culture is the steering wheel of an organization. In the same way, you don’t want too many different operating systems on your team.

If a candidate says, “I study the Bible,” dig deeper in the interview process. Ask how they study and interpret the Bible. It’s invaluable for your team to dialogue and learn from each other. A good leader should try to ensure that they don’t add an operating system that won’t work well with the rest of the team, whether you have a theologically homogeneous team or many differing views.

A helpful follow-up question to ask when hiring someone is “Who forms you spiritually?” Ask candidates where they grew up, what kind of church they grew up in (if they did) and about how they make difficult decisions. How often does the Bible come up in their answers? Do they use God’s Word to guide them to a decision? Their answers will give you insight into how they read, use and interpret Scripture, which can provide you with invaluable hiring and staffing insights.

Not knowing how someone thinks about the Bible and theology could lead you to a bad hire for your ministry. Learning up front how a candidate engages with God’s Word could save you time and headaches in the future.