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Prayer and Staff Selection By Rev. Peter Corney and Dr. Ken Byrne

The Role of Prayer in Staff Selection

Do we need prayer and God’s help when hiring staff?

In our opinion, the answer is most certainly yes. Whether an individual or a selection panel makes the hiring decision, we recommend prayer be an integral part of the process.

If it is by a panel, the members should be encouraged to incorporate this into their daily prayers during the hiring process.

Before the interview begins, seeking God’s wisdom to guide our preparation and judgment is always wise. Seeking God’s wise discernment in understanding how each candidate will match the job requirements and assessing how well each candidate will fit into the organization will always be helpful.

It is often appropriate to begin the interview with a short prayer.

The Candidate’s Perspective

If you are praying with the person, the prayer must be general. For example, “Lord, we ask for your guidance in helping us make the right hiring decision.”

You want to be careful about any prayer that implicitly suggests that the candidate will succeed. Something like “Our Lord, help us to see the best of Bill\Jane, so they do well at this interview” could create a substantial problem if the person were unsuccessful.

Legal Considerations

While we should all feel free to pray privately, there are some safeguards to consider when we pray with the candidate.

The first consideration is whether the place you work is Christian.

 If the role is in a church, praying in the candidate’s presence may be quite appropriate.

On the other hand, if you are a Christian school hiring a French teacher, it would probably be inappropriate and perhaps even illegal to pray in the candidate’s presence. This could well be interpreted as placing an unreasonable demand on the candidate.

Prayer with a Candidate

Should the candidate be asked to join in prayer?

While this may be tempting, we strongly recommend against this.

Despite our best efforts, the interview is a very subjective selection tool. We try to avoid elements that would add bias to the process.  Having the candidate join in prayer at the beginning of an interview will almost certainly introduce this into the interview.

 For example, those making the hiring decision may be swayed by the nature or passion of the prayer the candidate offers. On the other hand, the candidate may not make a positive impression with their prayer simply because they are nervous.

In either case, this may sway the decision maker to choose criteria not directly relevant to the job.

Even if the applicant is for a pastoral position, the nature of their Christian theology is better addressed in another format. This can begin with their application form and be continued during the interviews.

Having the candidate pray with you at the interview’s opening may also inadvertently create an opportunity for a complaint. The unsuccessful candidate could easily say that the interviewer or the panel “Didn’t like my prayer, and that’s why they didn’t hire me”. Defending against this won’t be easy.

A Final Consideration

Hiring a new staff member involves a great deal at stake. It requires careful preparation and considerable thought. Hiring the wrong person can be very expensive for everyone concerned.

While prayer is a fundamental part of this process, it is not a substitute for doing the necessary research and preparation. Nor is it permission to shortcut the process, skip essential steps, or avoid asking difficult questions.


This material is adapted by permission from Hire Right the First Time: A Practical Guide for Christian Organisations, which is available from Amazon. Rev. Peter Corney and Dr. Ken Byrne co-authored this book.

  • Rev Peter Corney is an Anglican minister who has been actively involved in writing, teaching, and leadership development for Christian ministers for the past sixty years.
  • Dr. Ken Byrne has been an independent organizational psychologist for over forty years.

What is Christian Leadership Alliance?

Christian Leadership Alliance equips and unites leaders to transform the world for Christ. We are the leaders of Christ-centered organizations who are dedicated to faithful stewardship for greater kingdom impact.

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