22 April 2024

A guide for averting hiring hazards

Hiring staff can be extremely difficult. Picture: iStock

By Paul Arnott 

24 February 2023

Peter Corney and Ken Byrne, Hire Right, First Time: A Practical Guide for Staffing Christian Organisations (Melbourne: Arrow Leadership, 2023). 

While reading this book, I was reminded how many things I could have done better when hiring staff. While I am among those who wrote a commendation for this book, I will do my best to review it fairly.  

Hiring staff is one of the most difficult things any organisation can do. There are many pitfalls, as Corney and Byrne point out, not the least of which is that you don’t know who you’ve got until you’ve had them for six months.  

By then the probationary period is over and if you’ve made a mistake, it’s too late, which is why it’s so important to do all you can to get it right in the first place.  

There’s an added layer of complication for faith-based organisations.  

The book’s title suggests the process is potentially even more fraught, because of the values of Christian organisations.  

As Corney and Byrne point out such organisations are by their nature tolerant: “The wish to extend God’s grace in Word and Deed is a deeply held value of the Gospel that can overshadow a hiring agency’s obligations to their existing clients and staff. The desire to do good can lead us to be short-sighted in assessing the risk that goes with a poor hiring choice.”  

But the first chapter unpacks the many pitfalls of hiring them. Chapter two highlights the importance of writing a position description, which spells out what the job is designed to achieve. The book lives up to its claim to be a guide for staffing, as each chapter concludes with extremely practical, common-sense checklists to ensure the ground has been fully covered.  

Chapter three details how to create what it calls “a compelling attraction strategy.” It isn’t enough to write a great position description, but also an ad that attracts people to the role.  

One of the book’s most valuable ideas is contained in chapter four – the importance of a structured selection system. The system is a well-thought-out, clearly defined process that all applicants must complete.  

Chapters 5 and 7 highlight the importance of the interview, especially the role of really listening. Chapter 6 explains how to discover the beliefs and values of the candidate. Chapter 8 details how to do reference checks well and suggests they are often done poorly. Chapter 9 highlights the crucial importance of intuition in the hiring process. Chapter 10 explains how to make the final decision.  

The next two chapters detail how to keep your best staff and how to dismiss staff. The final chapter reveals how to detect candidates that have a history of child abuse. Another rich resource is a comprehensive, free, downloadable User Guide. Hire Right, First Time is a potential goldmine for Christian organisations when hiring staff, indeed for any organisation seeking to hire right the first time.  

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