Sample Interview Questions from RevGals for when YOU are being Interviewed:

  • Have you asked about important traditions? I find that is a major issue in churches here. New pastors go in and do not always have respect for traditions. Might be good to know that the ladies holiday tea is something you NEED to attend and that you really should make some eggs for the Easter Bunny Egg Hunt- Oh, and be sure to know the Egg Cartoon resurrection Story. I did not know about that in my first church. (Yikes!). Traditions may not be as big of a deal where you are going, but it is a kiss of death here if you try to change stuff.
  • You might give them a scenario to two that would get them to describe the congregation’s process for managing typical issues.
  • I asked them to tell me what are the hot topic conversations happening in their congregation.
  • What is something that have tried and failed and what did they learn from it.
  • If the church would disappear tomorrow what would the community miss?
  • Tell me about your most recent conflict and how you resolved it?
  • What will I know about you a year from now that I don’t know today?
  • Ask them all what they’re reading right now. Fiction especially.
  • Just a thought – It is helpful to have a friend Skype you in advance to adjust lighting, background etc before your interview. Amazing how much a little prep can affect Skype interview.
  • I have always asked “Why did you say yes to being on the PNC?”
  • Tell me what is your favorite room in the church and why.
  • I always ask why they chose to interview me. What about my file/resume/interactions/conversations caught their interest?
  • What do you think I should ask?
  • What have been the defining moments in the recent history of this congregation?
  • I always ask what their traditions are around the celebration of Christmas and how those have changed over the years.
  • I ask them how each of them got to the church and why they have stayed.
  • What will this church look/sound/feel like 1/3/5 years from now?
  • What is your big dream for this church?
  • Why are you (to an individual) a part of this congregation?
  • What feeds your soul here?
  • Where do you feel God calling the church to grow?
  • What area of life here is strong and vital? What area do you feel needs to develop and grow?
  • Describe your congregation ten years from now. What has brought your congregation the most joy in the last five years? What has been the greatest challenge of the last five years?
  • “Tell me what your thoughts are as to the role of Pastor”…too many congregations are looking for someone to preach inspiring sermons, marry, bury and visit the sick. (oh yeah, and grow the church) It is important to know if the congregation understands that as Pastor you are a member of all committees, etc. and will participate in the vision and life of the congregation – not always doing things the way they’ve always been done.
  • And then the flipside: I would NOT ask them what a typical week for the pastor looks like. You are the one who drives that bus. Maybe a different question is. What do you feel are some of the ministry needs in the church, community, area…
  • Not a question, but a hint a friend passed on to me: write the questions you want to ask on sticky notes and put them around the edge of your monitor. Then you won’t have to look down if you can’t remember them.
  • Are you solvent? Is there debt?
  • Describe the leaders (find out who the matriarchs and patriarchs are)
  • What are you most proud of regarding your church? What worries you most regarding the church?
  • What was the moment when you felt most proud of this place? What was the moment you felt most disappointed? Has the church remained consistent in these behaviors or has it adapted?
  • Ask them how the church supports the pastoral staff.
  • What percentage of your current budget goes for work “outside the walls,” for outreach, missions, benevolences vs. salaries and expenses for upkeep? Has this percentage gone up or down in the past 5 years? Any plans for capital campaign in next 5 years? Are current financial obligations met through general budget, or are fundraisers required? What fundraisers are in place now, and how is the money used.
  • Do you foresee a need to add additional staff in the next 3 years, and if so, in what area?
  • Of the last 5 couples/ families that left your church formally, or simply quit attending, what were the reasons?
  • What is your process for fully engaging new members in the life of the congregation?
  • What was the last book your staff, congregation, or governing body studied together?
  • Where do they think the Spirit is leading the church now, what are hopes and aspirations for the future (not just “more butts in pews”)…if they say they want to grow, ask “how much?” Some churches have aspirations to become huge (often unrealistically). Some want to grow enough to be sustainable. Two very different visions of growth.
  • What are the values theymost cherish?
  • What scares you?
  • How many are in attendance each Sunday?
  • When it started looking likely that I would be called by them (so NOT the first interview) I asked, in an informal setting: “If I were to accept this call, what problem would cause me to wake up at 3 am 6 months from now and think,’ I’ll never solve that problem?'” It was a great conversation.
  • Where do you see God at work in this faith community?
  • I like to ask some questions that show that I’ve really read their MIF (dossier or church profile). “You say you want to do more outreach. What does that mean to you all? Why is that important?” That kind of thing
  • What sacred cow(s) does your church have?
  • I’d also look at their website…are they up to date? Is the website friendly? What about the site makes you want to stay and look around? Do they have online giving options? Do you see any desire to reach the younger generations?
  • Tom Bandy asked a good question years back which I’ve asked congregations, one way or another -“What does following Jesus mean for you now, today, in this time and this neighborhood?” I am not a big Bandy fan, but that one stuck…
  • What also gives your life meaning and purpose besides church?
  • What are you willing to “let go of” to help create the church God is calling you to be? I would also have my answers ready for the astute committee which then asks yin the same questions.
  • What does growth look like?
  • What does a successful year of ministry look like?
  • What are some characteristics of the surrounding community? What is the church’s relationship to the community? What are some unmet needs in the community/in the congregation?
  • What sets their church apart from others in the area? It’s an identity/vision question to see if they know who they are.
  • If I gave you a list if 50 new ideas for ministry, but told you we could only try 10, what would the decision making process to pick those 10 look like?
  • What is your understanding of how someone comes to faith?

More ideas? Add them in the comments below.

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