“The best way a mentor can prepare another leader is to expose him or her to other great people.”
-John C. Maxwell

Auditioning new talent isn’t always perceived as fun. For some organizations it’s not even seen as necessary. I believe auditioning done correctly and for the right purpose is not only fun but essential. Even the most tight knit team will have a team member who needs to leave for one reason or another.

First, let’s discuss purpose then we can think through some fun ways you may want to audition new people for your team. The main intendment that you should consider when opening the gate for new team members is synergy. Yes, you should be sure that if you are looking for bass players that you audition bass players, but more importantly ought to be how well they will fit in to your team’s current environment and where you’d like to take your team. No matter how talented on an instrument a person may be, that alone should not necessitate their inclusion. Their character, temperament, willingness to serve and availability ought to play as much a role.

You need only people of character in your organization. You cannot afford it any other way. Every member of your team is on-stage. The very nature of the stage means that your physically above everyone else. While that doesn’t mean so spiritually, it does mean so in visibility. A properly vetted singer or instrumentalist should be one that you can trust isn’t going to end up on the front page of your city news paper (or worse). Talent alone just isn’t enough.

Along with good character comes a nice temperament. Road musicians call this “the hang” factor. How much do you like being around the person you are interviewing? Be passionate about how your team is a team for the longterm. Being around people that are passionate about people and likable is crucial. No one wants someone who is only out for themselves.

A willingness to serve is also critical. Even if the position you are auditioning people for is paid, serving people is our mission from God. You want people who value others above themselves. In doing so they will help care for your team once they are established members. On the other hand, using the worship team to reach out as a ministry to selfish, nonbelievers may seem like a good idea on the front end, but the benefits don’t outweigh the risks. True, you may see some turn to Jesus, but their level of accountability is not the same as those who have accepted Jesus. You can have someone sign a commitment form, but if they aren’t principled by God’s covenant first then you’ll be putting yourself in a place of exposure. It may not be worth it.

Lastly, confirm that your new recruit is available for all the rehearsals, meetings and services that are going to be required of them when joining the team. Being available shows how interested the newcomer is. If you explain the time commitment and they seem to be very comfortable, you’ll be glad you have them. On the other hand, if they balk, saying it will be a burden to be at each event, then you know their heart isn’t in it. Time is one of the most valuable commodities we have. When we commit that time to the Lord we need to be doing so with the whole heart and not halfway.

So, how about making auditions fun [for you]. Let’s get this out of the way, auditions are nerve-wrecking times for the one being auditioned. No matter how much you try, people are going to be nervous. Being assessed isn’t a good feeling. Even if you’ve got the goods, there is a subjective person trying to make a judgment call. Just do your best to minimize stress for those being auditioned.

From your end though, you can set up the audition process to work in a more regimented fashion. I find that doing so makes the process easier to repeat and be more effective. Create a process that fits what you are trying to accomplish. For me, I’ll create a bulletin request that lasts three weeks inviting any person who wishes to sign up for an interview. It may or may not lead to an audition. I personally call each person on the sign up list and we discuss who they are (like character, availability, etc.) and then I try and do a phone audition to know if I feel like they will do well at the in person audition. While you cannot know for sure who will and won’t make it through an audition during the phone interview phase you can help some people choose not to audition because it wouldn’t be a good fit. You’ll save your time and theirs.

During the audition itself, invite your established team members to come. Have enough players to form a full band. When auditioning a drummer, have your current drummer come sit with you to evaluate. In doing so, your drummer may have insights that you wouldn’t have. That’s extremely valuable.

Once auditions are over, be honest with the person auditioning. Everyone who auditions wants to know as soon as they can if they “made it”. Tell them! Most of the time you already know.

Once a new team member has made it through the audition process I like to take them to lunch or coffee and get to know them. Again, you want to know if they are a “good hang”. You can’t find that out without one on one time.

After that interview, it’s time to bring them on the team. I recommend letting them shadow a seasoned member of your team during rehearsals. This allows them to ask questions and it also allows you to introduce the new member without their needing to focus on performing.

That’s it! I hope that you can make the audition process work for you. Finding great people for your team is a privilege and I pray you’ll be able to. God is good! I pray that God will lead you toward wonderful people.

How do you hold auditions? Do you open the gates to your team every 3 months or 3 years? I would love to hear! Message or comment…

-Micah Brooks