The fact that I am writing an article about this will be perceived by many to be a joke. There usually isn’t a hiring process because volunteers don’t have the time to follow one. And even if they did, the salary is usually so low that the hiring process is reduced to “anyone willing to work for this much money.” We’ll tackle salary another time, but for now let’s look at the interview process.
The most important part of an interview process is actually having one.
Leaving it out does not save any time or resources as most people assume. If you hire the wrong person because you did not do your homework, you will face strong negative feedback from the community and lose much more time and energy from fixing the problem and finding someone else.
With that said, here’s a few steps that you need to make sure you incorporate into your hiring process. This applies whether you are hiring an imam, business director, or even cleaning staff for the masjid.
Every job matters. Every single one. Time to start taking it seriously.
The most obvious of no-brainers, yet somehow the most neglected. If this point needs further elaboration, we have problems much bigger than this blog can address. Every board member should be required to perform this step before casting a vote to hire someone.
2. WWLL – What Winning Looks Like [NOT a Job Description]
What does the person have to do in order to say that they performed their job properly? Is it leading a certain number of prayers? Holding a certain number of classes? Performing a certain number of fundraisers? What results do you want to see from hiring this person? Quantify it on paper and agree to it before hiring someone.
This can be reviewed after 30 days, 90 days, 1 year, and so on to benchmark progress. These goals need to be specific and measurable so both sides understand and can discuss them.
3. Cultural Fit
Make sure you get along with the person. Make sure this person can get along with your community (especially if hiring an Imam or Youth Director). Bring them in for a community interview and see how they interact. You do the community no good if you hire a religious director that no one feels comfortable talking to.
Does the person you are hiring actually want to do what you are bringing them in to do?
Make sure you are paying them enough. If you hire someone at $50k when they were making $85k at their previous position – they might join out of desperation, but the whole time they are there they will be looking for another job while hating the one you hired them for. Explain exactly what you can pay and why.
6. 90 Day Probation Period
After istikharah, this is the next most obvious clause most people leave out of the hiring process. Make sure that step number 2 above is properly done. Then after 90 days you can evaluate clearly how well this person is doing. If they’re not doing well, you have an out. If they don’t like it, they have an out.
References are normally useless, but they are still important to check. I am shocked at how many communities hire a person who has a bad past in their previous community. If someone was previously employed by 4 different masjids, make sure to contact each one to see what happened.
Most of these steps are simply common sense, but they need to be codified. Make these an official part of the process for anyone you are bringing on board.
This does not apply to only paid positions. Use the same process for volunteers.
You are entrusting some aspect of community work to these individuals, it is a responsibility upon you to make sure you do your homework.