Using a quality assessment for hiring a Christian camp leader pays off. Here’s exactly how it works and why.

The leaders you hire to represent, lead or head up key positions in your camp are pivotal to your future success. Do not take this responsibility of choosing them lightly. Obviously in a Christian camp, much prayer and discussion should surround such an important decision. In addition there are truly some great, and I believe essential, tools to help you with that decision-making process.

Before hiring key on-site and permanent staff at a Christian camp, I believe it’s critical to be aided by a properly administered behavioural assessment. This assessment gives the camp a real advantage in considering applicants for key positions.

What the Assessment Looks At

A behavioural assessment (at least the one we use) looks at

# 1 Behavior – How this applicant may behave in certain situations – under stress, handling problems, dealing with groups of people, working with individuals or paying attention to details. This is the behaviour that can be observed.

# 2 What Drives that Behavior – We can take a look at what attitudes, interests and values may drive the behaviour that you might observe.

And we can show to what degree that applicant may be adapting their behaviours for the situation they happen to be in.

The Critical Importance of the Debrief and Who Administers It

Assuming you have a quality assessment, by far the number one consideration to making it of value to the camp is the debrief – the conversation the coach has with the applicant and the conversation you and your team have with the coach about the applicant’s assessment.

You absolutely must have a professional who understands what the assessment is showing. And that coach must be skilled in helping facilitate the maximum flow of information needed to inform the best decision possible.

Having said that … not all assessments are equal. Period. And not all those who administer and debrief them are equal. Period. Buyer beware. The person you are looking for and the role they are required to fill is too critical to get this wrong. Do your homework. Have a thorough conversation with the coach and find out their experience with situations and individuals similar to yours. Ask questions. Find out who others have successfully used.

How Completing an Assessment Works

Let me walk you through a typical assessment engagement.

There are usually four groups involved. The Applicant. The leader I deal with. The committee assigned to vet applicants for the position. Myself as the Coach.

I use the highly accurate DISC assessment from Target Training International. They do much of the original validation work on the assessments that the industry depends on. Again, not all assessments are created equal. Don’t get talked into an inferior assessment or into something just because it looks shiny.

  • I discuss the logistics of the assessment with the leader assigned to head up the selection committee (or equivalent). Often a timeline or certain other considerations may be driving decision-making, so we sort this out ahead of time. Obviously we agree on delivery, format, payment etc.
  • The camp gives me the name and email of the applicant and they let the individual know that I will be contacting them to complete an assessment.
  • I contact the individual and give them some background on the assessment and how we will proceed. I give them the link to complete the assessment online. Usually this online work only takes the applicant about 20 minutes. Once they click Submit, the individual, the camp leader and myself receive a copy of the completed assessment of about 40 pages.
  • The applicant goes through the assessment page by page, highlighting all of those statements that are most true of themselves and taking note of the few that they might feel are not at all reflective of how they behave. They also make note of any questions they may have. Then they contact me letting me know they are ready for the debrief.
  • The applicant and myself meet together to look at the assessment. We talk about how they work and lead and how they deal with people and problems and procedures. We discuss the pace they like to work at, what motivates them and how they like to communicate and be communicated with. All these things and so much more form an overall picture of how the candidate may fit into the everyday back and forth of work and leadership. This generally takes from an hour and a half to two hours. Truth be told, I often spend more time with the individual than most teams do.
  • I next meet with the candidate selection committee and walk through the assessment with them. Pretty much we discuss the same things I have been able to work through with the applicant. Obviously I answer the questions I can and make observations that will be of help as they discuss their considerations amongst themselves. I emphasize that the decision belongs to the camp. I am not making any final decision regarding any particular candidate.
  • I do strongly suggest to any camp that husband and wife are a team. Even if one does not work at camp, they both are involved. Therefore … depending on the position, it’s important that the spouse complete an assessment as well. Their opinions and their behind-the-scenes involvement matters and the camp wants to absolutely ensure that both of them are on board. I will tell candidates that if husband and wife are not both 100% in agreement, withdraw your application. If one spouse is just doing it for the other spouse, it is a poor basis for moving forward.
  • The selection committee then go and do their work. My job is finished.

The Value of a Professionally Administered Assessment

  • It fosters a productive conversation with the applicant. The candidate selection team are now aware of areas they should ask about. They have found out about both potential strengths and possible blind spots and this allows an open and honest conversation around those things that are felt most critical to reaching a decision.
  • It provides insights that otherwise might not be there. Because the DISC assessment is so focused and comprehensive it opens up conversation and insight that might not be gained by simply sitting down and having a regular conversation. The assessment clearly addresses multiple areas of observable behaviour and fosters a discussion around them.
  • It gives the candidate selection committee a more focused discussion. Since multiple candidates are completing the same assessment, the committee can really compare more readily those things that matter. It gives objective information upon which to base any decision.
  • It creates a better fit for the job. If the job could speak, it would ask for a particular type of person. Having the assessment beforehand ups the opportunity for making that right fit. Teams can be more confident in their decision to choose a potential leader.
  • It benefits from third party insight. Sometimes we can become so focused on some aspects of the job or candidate that we miss other things. By working with me, organizations benefit from having an objective voice who doesn’t have a vested interest in the outcomes other than praying that the organization gets exactly the right person.
  • It provides something to refer back to. When the camp leadership gets together with the new hire in the early weeks and months of their engagement, the assessment can be referred back to. It provides a good starting point for getting the individual up to speed and confident in using the talents the Lord has given them.
  • It provides for ongoing professional development. Each assessment that I use, lists areas for possible attention and potential time wasters. A lot of information is revealed that allows the leader to create a plan for professional growth. The leadership can then monitor and encourage as the plan is followed through on.
  • It’s a small price to pay for such a big decision. Let’s face it. A lot is riding on the decision to bring in new or additional leadership to a Christian camping organization. You want to do everything you can to make sure you’ve made the best decision you can. A well debriefed assessment can give you that kind of confidence.
  • Nothing Replaces PrayerYou use the tools and God-given abilities and common sense you have when choosing a candidate. But nothing will supplant serious and concerted prayer for just the right individual. The rest are aids, supplements to desiring the Lord to clearly put his mark of approval on an individual.

Having said that, find the best Executive or Leadership Coach that you can. Make sure they “know” their stuff when it comes to administering a professional assessment. And work with them to ensure you get the best individual possible to become part of your camp’s team. I’m doing this all the time and I can attest to the advantage this will give you going into conversations with candidates and amongst yourselves.