The Interviewing Secrets to Ensure Your Next Hire Shares Your Christian Values

Jul 19, 2010, Written by Sue Miley

Interviewing is an art.  It is also the key activity in the process of hiring the team member who will provide you with not only the perfect compliment of skills and talents, but the cultural fit you need to build your business.  During the interview process here are the 3 impact areas to focus on:

Secret #1: You Can Find Out More Than You Want to Know if You Build Rapport

Try to get to know the candidate.  Put them at ease so they will open up and share more of who they really are with you.  You won’t be able to tell if someone will fit with your team if they are guarded throughout the interview.  You won’t be able to tell if you will like working with them either.

You are in charge of the interview.  It is up to you to set the tone of the interview and to put the candidate at ease.

You will find out good and bad from this.  I have had candidates tell me that “no customer is going to treat me like dirt.  I won’t stand for that.” to others sharing stories of terrible relationships with prior employers.  I am not judging these individuals in their values based on these stories.  However, depending on your business, information learned may indicate whether they would fit your culture or not.

If you effectively build rapport, you can find out a lot about the whole person you are hiring, without asking any inappropriate questions.

Building rapport is NOT crossing your arms, staring the candidate down, and asking them “why would we hire you?”

If you aren’t sure how to build rapport, start by creating an atmosphere that feels more like you are just sharing a cup of coffee with a new acquaintance, and trying to get to know them better.  Smile.  Use their name a lot.  Give them time to settle in before you ask the hard questions.

Secret #2: Ask Questions That Yes or No Can’t Answer

There are many questions you can ask to determine if a person already shares your value system.  The best way to assess this is to give the candidate a situation and ask them an open-ended question about how they would handle or resolve the situation.  It’s important to not lead them in the answer you want.

One example may be:

We have all had to deal with an unhappy customer at some point in our career.  Tell me about your most outrageous customer situation.

Then let them tell the story.  Don’t ask them how they handled it at first.  Wait until the story is unfolding and in the natural course of conversation say “What did you do when Customer X did that?”

The candidate is usually caught up in the story and they will openly share their response.

Other questions should be covered about work ethic, dependability, etc.

Remember, the best questions in an interview are open-ended.  What open-ended means is that they cannot be answered by a simple yes or no.

One question I love to ask to determine if a person is dependable or not starts with:

If I asked your current boss or past bosses about your attendance or about your promptness to work on a consistent basis what would they tell me?

By wording it this way for some reason it is like hooking the person up to a lie detector test.  They seem to feel that this means you are going to ask their references this question and the truth will set them free.

It is an introduction to whether or not the candidate meets his/her commitments.

Secret #3: Share The Dynamic, Inspiring Vision of Your Company

All companies can and should share the core values of their business.  It is perfectly legal to tell an employee that integrity is a core value for your business and to explain or define that in your terms.  You can communicate your views in an interview.  You can say that the bible tells us in the book of James “to let your yes be yes and your no be no”.  Then explain why this verse exemplifies integrity to you.

Or try something like this out: 

In my company people are of utmost importance.  Whether it be our employees, customers or vendors.  I want to create a foundation or culture in my company that values people.  This is what that looks like to me:

We all try to help any customer whether it is our job or not.

We treat others how we would want to be treated.

We own up to mistakes and communicate openly to find solutions.

We help other team members proactively with a servant’s heart.

We treat vendors with respect with our words and our actions.

We use respectful language here in front of customers and vendors and behind the scenes with each other.

We show up to work on time and when scheduled because we know it will cause a burden on someone else if we don’t.

We care about quality and doing everything, everyday to the best of our ability.

Why?  Because we want to have a team that works together seamlessly, we want to have customers and vendors that respect us and want to do business with us.

At this point, if the candidate meets your technical requirements for the job and you are impressed with their interview, it is worth the time and effort to share with them your vision of the company and the culture.

Ask them if this is the type of culture that matches them and why.  If they just say “yes” and can’t qualify it, then they may just be paying lip service.  However, if you have built rapport and had a productive interview, at this point if someone hears about your culture I believe you will be able to read their honest response.  Your intuition will kick in.

I can tell by a person’s body language.  Sometimes it is the excitement in their voice.  Other times it is a sparkle in their eye.  It says “Wow, I didn’t know that companies like this existed.  I want to come and work for you, learn from you and grow with you!”

Yes, you can get that from body language or a sparkle in the eye.  Others may actually say it!

Just Do It Then

These may seem like simple obvious interviewing techniques, but in coaching small business owners on a daily basis, in reality these must be well kept secrets.  They just aren’t happening.  Companies jump right into the interview process and tell the person all of the requirements of the job.  They ask them if they have any questions and if they think they can do the job.  Then they hire them.  The interview part of the interview never happens.

The bad news is that glossing over a real interview results in poorly qualified people being hired and, in many cases, quick turnover in the position. 

Simple or not, if you follow these interview secrets, you will make much better hiring decisions.  So, don’t say you already know all of this, just do it!

The Results

There are tremendous positive outcomes from following these secrets:

hire more qualified candidates

maintain a tighter company culture

create a team that works well together

reduce turnover costs

If the candidate matches your company culture and your company culture reflects your Christian values, it is highly likely that the new hire shares your Christian values.  And ultimately there is a higher rate of successful new hires.

Reader Interactions


  1. Brad Harmon says

    I agree with you that once you’ve built a rapport in the interview it’s easy to tell if the candidate buys into the vision of your company. I see too many interviewers skip talking about the company’s vision or talk about a vision that doesn’t match the day-to-day operation of the business.

    I’ve found that it is often a better indicator of the candidate’s success as an employee than almost any other question you can ask once their technical proficiency is established.

    I have to say that I love the way you word this question. “If I asked your current boss or past bosses about your attendance or about your promptness to work on a consistent basis what would they tell me?” Many former employers only verify dates of employment and salary history now, but I can see this question being very effective in an interview.

  2. Jay Peroni says

    This is a great article! Far too many people compartmentalize their lives. Work, finances, social life, etc. What’s good in one area is not good in another. Take faith: not to many people keep Christ front and center when it comes to money – earning, spending, investing, and giving…

    Thank you for reminding Christians that our values are important in every aspect of our lives!

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Sue Miley

Sue Miley MBA, MA, LPC helps small business owners build successful businesses on a foundation of Christian values. After 20 years in business, and 10 years as a Christian counselor, Sue uses a combination of faith, business and psychology to help clients in business and in life.

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