1. What is your experience working in church environments?
Depending on the role you are hiring for, the candidate may or may not already have experience working in a church setting. Those that are experienced may find it easier to adapt to a new church. However, those that haven’t worked in a House of Worship before may not be familiar with the special community bond and shared faith staff and volunteers in a church have. This is an excellent question to find out whether a candidate understands your environment from the start.
2. Why are you looking for a new job?
As an open-ended question that leaves room for you to interpret motivation and underlying personality traits, asking this will help you determine if this person is a passive candidate casually exploring opportunities or an active candidate who is committed to looking for a new job. While neither is bad, it is a good distinction to uncover so that you can assess if they feel drawn to your church specifically or if this is just another application they submitted out of many.
3. What is your personal theology?
It’s critical to ask someone applying for a ministry role about their beliefs because you want to ensure that the candidate’s personal theology aligns with your church’s theology. If they don’t theologically align on core issues, it may lead to conflict down the road. So while you don’t have to spend a lot of time discussing this question in detail, it should be asked as it will help you decide whether to move forward with a particular candidate.
4. How would your friends describe you?
Listen to what the candidate responds to this and then follow up by asking whether you can call one of their friends. That way, you will know whether the candidate was truthful in their response or just replied with something you wanted to hear. Ask this question early on to let the interviewee know you’re looking for honest answers.
5. What are your goals?
How the candidate strategically thinks about the future and whether they have plans can help you decide whether they are suitable for the role. Not having a direct answer may indicate that making plans with them will be difficult. You can also follow up this question by asking what previous plans they have set and accomplished (or not) and why for additional insight. This will help you understand if the interviewee’s goals align with the mission and goals of your church.
6. How do you stay organized?
How a person organizes gives you insight into someone’s time and project management capabilities. While systems vary, organized people always have a system. Their answer will give you insight into whether they are tech-savvy, traditional, or modern and whether you think their way of working could be helpful in your church.
7. What are your greatest weaknesses?
While you could ask about just one weakness, they are likely to have rehearsed an answer to that question. By asking them to name several weaknesses, you can see how self-aware they are and if they can demonstrate an opportunity for growth.
8. How do you cope with stress? What gets you down?
Ministry roles often carry a heavy emotional and spiritual load of the congregation on top of regular organizational duties. How a candidate handles that stress is vital to the long-term health of your church. If you find that the candidate responds with denial to this question (e.g., saying stress is not an issue for them), they may, quite frankly, not be a good fit. This could indicate that they are either not self-aware enough to cope with stress or haven’t been under pressure before. Of course, every job has stressful elements, but the stress that comes with church roles specifically requires self-aware, compassionate, and organized individuals who have tried and tested ways of dealing with stress.
9. How do you handle conflict?
Taking the previous question further, you should ask about the candidate’s way of handling conflict. Conflict will undoubtedly come up in their work, especially in ministry. By asking for an example of how a candidate has handled conflict in the past or providing a hypothetical scenario, you gain insight into their interpersonal skills and way of resolving conflict, which are crucial characteristics for all ministry roles.
10. How do you develop team members and volunteers?
This is an open-ended question demonstrating the interviewee’s ideas on delegation and building team members and volunteers. Because a holistic approach to growing people is essential in church environments, this question should be among your top 10 in every interview.
Asking candidates specific questions of how and where they have pursued pieces of your strategic mission helps you narrow down your pool of applicants. By asking the questions in this list and looking for proven experience working towards a mission and vision that aligns with yours, you will improve your chances of hiring someone that perfectly fits into your church family.