It’s that time. You’ve looked, you applied, and you got the phone call. Now you’re going to interview with the search committee. Going into an interview expecting others to ask all the questions is a rookie move, and going in blank cranks up your anxiety and makes it unlikely you’ll come out of it with the info you want. So arm yourself, be prepared, check out these questions and grab a few that work for you. Make sure you do your homework, look up the website, see if there are services online (watch more than one), try to find a worship bulletin.
The questions are divided into relative categories to help you, but these are just examples so go with what applies to you.
Pre-Interview questions (over phone, emails, etc.)
Inquire about the committee/team that will be hiring you: how was it chosen, why… good clues to how things run.
- Could I have a copy of the job description so I can review it before the interview
- Could I have some of your most recent worship bulletins, newsletters, business meeting minutes, and any other material you think would be helpful for me to have?
- Is this a full time position?
- How would you describe the personality of the church?
- How does the church work intergenerationally? Could you provide examples?
One on One with Pastor Questions
- How long have you been here? What are its greatest strengths and weaknesses as a congregation?
- What’s your 5 year plan? Are you currently looking elsewhere or planning on staying?
- Who are the most influential people in the congregation?
- When do I meet the other staff?
- How does worship planning happen? Who’s involved?
- How often will I be encouraged to preach?
- Why is this position vacant, and could I speak to the person who last filled it?
- What is an example of a major conflict that occurred in the church, and how was it resolved?
Formal/Committee interview questions
Evaluating the ministry questions:
- What is/has been the church’s youth ministry philosophy?
- Will I be expected to build on a good program, or overhaul something that’s broken?
- How would you describe the volunteers working in my area? (Who’s the go-to? Is there anyone I need to look out for?)
- Where does the youth ministry excel?
- Where does it struggle?
- How will the youth ministry’s success be measured?
- What is the role of youth ministry here?
- What do you see as the future goals of the youth ministry?
- How does the church invest in the lives of students and their families?
Youth Ministry Program Questions
- What is the youth ministry’s “golden calf”, the event?
- How does the ministry currently minister to the parents/guardians?
- Do you encourage youth to sit together or with family during worship? And why?
- What types of events do you expect, and what ministerial purpose do they serve?
- Are most families able to afford the various youth events (camp, retreats)? If not how are they provided for?
- How are youth ministry funds managed?
- Are fundraisers encouraged/discouraged?
- What oversight is there for these funds?
- Are there areas considered exclusive for youth ministry use? Technology? What is shared?
- How will the church invest in my development as a vocational minister?
- What are office hours and time invested expectations?
- What are vacation policies/benefits for full time called staff? Is there a difference in pastors package/other called staff members?
- What is the full salary package breakdown? (retirement, benefits, housing, cell phone, mileage, etc)
- How has the church handled raises in the last few years? Are they based on performance, annual, are they a thing?
- What is the continuing education policy (conferences, books)? Does that count as vacation and who pays for that?
- Does the church include sabbaticals?
- What is the maternity/paternity policy for this position?
- What is the comp day policy (for camp, retreats, etc)?
- What are the expectations the church has for my spouse/children?
- What is our time frame for the interview process? Are there others being considered? When should I expect to hear from you next?
- Will there be opportunity/expectation for mentoring (either by a staff member or outside minister)? Who chooses?
- What is the leadership structure within ministerial staff? Who is my direct supervisor?
- What type of job evaluation will I receive?
- How often will this analysis happen? Will I get an annual review? Done by whom? Based on what?
- What social media expectations are there (maintaining accounts, managing pages, etc)? What church policies exist for these?
- What qualitative/concrete parameters that will be used in judging the validity/quality of the ministry in a given time frame?
- Group size?
- Number of program opportunities?
- Number of commitments to x?
- Spiritual growth of the overall group/individuals within the group?
- % of active participants vs youth on role?
- How will I be involved in worship? How often will I have the opportunity to preach?
- Why did my precursor leave (if there was someone), and was it on good terms?
- How does the church staff work together?
- Who does the staff as a whole answer to?
- How would you describe the relationship between staff members?
- What is an example of a major conflict that occurred in the church, and how was it resolved? (or ask about specific event from previous questioning)
- How would you describe the church’s associational connection? (CBF or another denomination)
- How would you describe the church’s support of women in ministry?
- How would you describe the church’s view on homosexuality?
- How would the church react if “outsider” kids started coming?
- What is the church willing to change or lose in order to gain new families?
- What is the church’s mission statement? What are the future goals of the church?
- How often are youth encouraged to participate or lead worship?
- How is the church viewed within this community? Are you cooperative with other local bodies? Are you open to join mission/worship experiences with them?
What did you want me to ask that I didn’t?
Email email@example.com to have those questions added to this list.
These are, of course just suggestions, and plenty of them. If you think of anything else that needs to be ask… just ask. You won’t regret asking more, only the ones you don’t. Good luck, and go get ‘em.