3 Questions Pastors Should Expect in an Interview
In my role at Vanderbloemen Search Group, I get the amazing opportunity to talk daily with pastors seeking their next ministry opportunity. Often, what separates good candidates from the great ones is a candidate’s ability to give thoughtful responses to the questions asked of them. A person who is able to answer questions succinctly and articulately comes across as being prepared and having a high interest in the position.
Whether you are being interviewed for a Student Ministry or Senior Pastor role (and anything in between), you will likely be asked some variation of these three questions during the interview process. Thinking about how you will answer them ahead of time not only affords you the ability to convey a thoughtful response, it might also help with interview jitters and allow you to put your best foot forward in any interview process.
1. Why are you looking for a new ministry opportunity?
This is often one of the hardest answers to convey, especially to someone you probably have never spoken with before. It can evoke a really personal response, which may be uncomfortable for some people. Whether you are running away from your last ministry position or running toward your next one, being honest and upfront about why you are looking for a new position is key. We often hear the response that pastors feel God leading them in a new direction. While we know that to be true, being able to describe how you have discerned this is important. If you are running away from your last ministry position, being honest and upfront about the problems you have been facing and what part, if any, you play in those problems shows humility, honesty and builds a certain level of trust appreciated in the interview process. And remember, it never reflects well on you to bad-mouth former employers.
2. What about this specific ministry opportunity interests you?
There is nothing more confusing than talking with candidates who cannot answer this question. If you have not looked into the specific position you are applying to, and more importantly, the church itself, before the interview process, it will be painfully clear when you are asked this question. Those candidates who can rattle off a list of why they are excited about a particular position and church show a certain level of preparedness and drive that often sets them apart from other candidates. It also shows a sense of self-awareness in a candidate which is greatly appreciated. If you sense God calling you to a new ministry opportunity, then take the time to do a little research about where he may be calling you to.
3. Tell me a little bit about yourself.
I really am interested in getting to know you. The more I know about you, the more I am able to discern whether you may be a good fit for a particular church. Being a good fit entails more than just your theology, experience level, education, etc. It takes into account your personality, your strengths, weaknesses and how you naturally interact with people, among other things. Having said all of that, interviewers have a limited amount of time to spend with you. Being able to condense your “story” is important. Think about the highlights, your call to ministry, what makes you unique, etc. Especially in the early stages of the interview process, when an interviewer asks you this question, they aren’t asking for your whole life story. Be able to sum up the highlights of who you are.
Thinking about these three questions, deciding how you would answer them and perhaps even practicing answering them with someone else will help you put your best foot forward in the interview process. It can show a higher level of interest, preparedness, thoroughness and thoughtfulness than other candidates. Most importantly, though, you’ll be calm and collected instead of feeling on the spot, which will allow the conversation to flow much more easily.
Original post written by Jamie Byrd.