Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Clergy Job Interview

This is yet another aspect of searching for a clergy job that differs a great deal from most other job searches. Clergy job interviews sometimes unfold over a period of days, during which time the prospective Pastor socializes with church members, preaches a sermon to an unfamiliar crowd, and (generally) participates in an interview by a committee. If the clergy person has a family, they may participate in the social aspects of the interview process.  It is vital for the clergy person  to "be him/her self" throughout the entire process, but even if things don't feel quite right, she/he needs to make it through the whole marathon and keep his/her ego intact if the church turns them down for the position. Meanwhile, the stakes are high, and these sorts of stakes tend to throw someone off his/her game.

In the past I have aced clergy job interviews, and I have sometimes also not aced them. As with other interview processes, it is good to go over the materials you have about the position for which you are interviewing, and check out the web site if they have one. My denomination provides references that the job seeker can call to learn about the church from a perspective other than that of the search committee. The sorts of interview questions you are likely to field can be found here. (Please note that this is a PDF document and you will need to scroll waaaaaay down to resource 11B.)

One thing I have noticed about most clergy jobs is that the interview committees tend to "dress down" even in a formal job interview session, so while it's always a great idea to dress for success, try to also dress in a way that you seem comfortable in your clothes. Dress the way you might on a regular Sunday morning.

As with other job interviews, it is most important to answer questions clearly but try to keep things brief. It is probably not a great idea to launch into mini-sermons or tell long stories.

The thing that helps me the most is to be well rested, well fed and to exercise the morning before the interview. A recent TED talk offered a proverbial "one weird trick" to help prep for a nerve-wracking situation, such as a job interview.
And I would be remiss not to mention bringing spiritual practice into the entire interview process, before, during, and after the interview. You can check out the resources page on this blog for online and phone-app spiritual resources.
I blog, therefore I am. If you liked this post and want some food for thought about church ministry, check out If you or anyone you know is looking to hire a new Pastor, check out my professional profile blog at
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