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Because of the spiritual importance, ministerial interviews take on a different tone and line of questioning. These interviews will be more personal and in-depth with many questions surrounding the applicant's faith, personal life, and beliefs. Here are a few differences you can expect.

  • In most instances, churches will form a search committee/team, usually made up of four to eight people. This group often collectively makes the decision of whom they will recommend to the church, or hire directly.

  • If the open position reports to an existing member such as a Senior Pastor, that individual will also participate on the search team. This person often carries the most weight in the decisions made about any applicant, but that doesn't mean you don't need to focus on the entire committee.

  • Lay committee members are usually business professionals who will have the same professional expectations as if they were interviewing for a similar role/level of responsibility in a non-church organization or company.

Interview Questions
  • While the interview questions will often be very similar to non-ministry positions, the difference in this situation is that there will be more interest in your background, asking about your ministry experience, your conversion, your walk with God, etc.

  • In addition to the assessment of skills and abilities, questions will also explore your character, beliefs, and experience. A church or nonprofit is not only seeking a strong leader or good preacher, but more importantly someone who demonstrates kindness, compassion, forgiveness, and humility.

  • Given this atmosphere, be careful that you don't talk too much. You, too, are assessing your fit for this position during the process. You need to be asking questions and listening well; the right fit matters.

Interest in Your Family
  • Usually resumes for a pastoral position include a family photo, showing the applicant along with his/her spouse and/or children (if any). This family picture on your resume is a courtesy on your part, as churches legally should not ask for this type of information. However, churches are very interested to see an applicant and his/her family.

  • Questions will likely be asked about the ages of your children (if any), and how a job change will impact your family. This will be less true for a nonprofit position, but likely more true of a church-planting assessment or missions position.

Interest in Your Spouse
  • While churches rarely hire you and your spouse, search committees are very interested to learn what your spouse thinks about this position as it relates to your family life. This is most true of pastoral and missions positions. If your spouse is invited to participate, it's good for him/her to have a few questions s/he would like to ask as well.

  • Don't be surprised if the search committee asks for an interview with you and your spouse with a focus on questions to your spouse. Primarily, questions will be directed to what ministry your spouse feels inclined toward. Churches want to see the minister's spouse contributing to or involved in some type of church ministry just as they would encourage any church member to do. Nonprofits want to be sure that the spouse is aware of the stress and challenges of ministry work. A missions organization will want to be doubly certain that both husband and wife feel committed to the work the family will be doing in the field.

  • If invited to meet in a more informal setting, such as dinner, remember that this is still an interview, even if the setting is more relaxed.

Interview Process

The interview process for a nonprofit position will much more closely follow that of a corporate position. Missions organizations and church planter assessments will be the most thorough interviews, but they each have their own process and usually provide information about the required steps upon your inquiry to a recruiter. As for pastoral positions, expect a longer interview process. Each church will have a particular way of interviewing candidates, but each might include some or all of these elements:

  • Initial phone interview

  • In-person or video interview

  • Request for you to provide videos or audio of sermons (for preaching positions)

  • Detailed questionnaire asking for written feedback about your theological/doctrinal beliefs, in-depth information about your background, your cultural views, and other job-related questions

  • Request for references. Be sure to be in contact with your references so that they expect a call or email from a member of the search team.

  • One-on-one interview with the hiring manager, senior pastor, or elder board chairperson

  • Lunch or dinner with the search team, you, and your spouse

  • An interview with the elder board

  • Communication of salary, benefits, and start dates

  • For a preaching position, you may be asked to preach on a Sunday morning.

  • Some congregations and denominations may give members the opportunity to vote on hiring decisions.

  • A Q&A time with members of the congregation. If this is scheduled, ask your primary contact for some questions that you need to be prepared to answer. Often churches have some key concerns or issues that will likely come up. Your spouse needs to be prepared as well, just in case a question is asked of him/her.