5 Ways To Fail Your Ministry Interview


Searching for a new position on a church staff can be taxing to say the least. Praying through tough decisions about timing, workplaces, and direction can wear on your mind, body, and spirit. As you apply for new positions, you'll undoubtedly find yourself in an interview. How do you make sure you're prepared for the interview? You can start by first reviewing these 5 ways to fail your interview.

1. Don't show interest.

The interview process begins before you ever meet any of your interviewers. If you're serious about the position, you should start by doing research. Both google and the church's website can give you insights into their mission, theology, and culture. But, don't stop there! Do you know anyone who attends the church? Is the church close enough to sit in on a service?

The bottom line on research is that you should walk into the interview informed enough to talk about the church with a degree of confidence and to ask intelligent questions about the church and role. Knowing about the church and being able to translate that into conversation demonstrates that you are serious about the role.

2. Don't dress, groom, or comport yourself properly.

You can fail an interview without ever opening your mouth. Here are the big ticket, non-verbal basics:

      • Dress yourself appropriately. Typically, this is a shade nicer than business casual. You can usually get a feel for this via the church's website. If there are a lot of pictures of people wearing suits, then that is likely appropriate.
      • Groom yourself properly. A shower is mandatory. Pay attention to unkempt hair and the rest of the stuff your mother likely fussed over: stains on your clothes, untucked shirts, fingernails, etc.
      • Comport yourself well. Body language is more important than you might think. 
        • Sit with good posture, yet relaxed. 
        • Try not to twitch or fiddle as this can be distracting and communicate nervousness. 
        • Make good eye contact. Not making eye contact is often associated with shiftiness. 
        • Don't cross your arms. It communicates shutting off. Your interviewers want to get to know you, so don't put up any barriers. 
        • Remember to smile. A smile really can brighten up a room. You do not need to be overly cheery, just show that you're happy to be there.

3. Don't mind your manners.

An interview is much more than a series of questions. It is an attempt to assesss your character. A surefire way to fail your interview is to leave your manners at the door. The two major ways this tends to manifest itself in an interview setting are abrasive or overly-comfortable behavior.

Oftentimes, highly successful candidates can fail an interview by interrupting interviewers or dominating the conversation. Remember that your interviewers are there to assess how you'd work with the team. If you're an abrasive candidate in the interview, you'll likely be an abrasive coworker.

Personable candidates can fall victim to being overly comfortable in an interview, especially with an experienced interviewer. Experienced interviewers are great at disarming candidates, making the interview feel as if it is just two friends sharing a cup of coffee. Remember that this is a professional setting and that even though the questions may be personal, the interviewer is not your friend. (Well, not yet.) Treating them as such can rub them the wrong way.

4. Don't prepare.

Many candidates go into interviews thinking, "They're just trying to get to know me. Why would I need to prepare for that?" Even a modicum of preparation can help you seem much more polished. Asking yourself the basic interview questions and then answering them (out loud) will not only help you find the words necessary for an intelligent, polished answer, but will also allow you to communicate what is most important. Many candidates look back on interviews with regrets. Preparing for the interview is a great safeguard against these regrets.

5. Lie.

Finally, the biggest red flag for interviewers of any kind is lying. Interviews are often fraught with difficult questions. The best way to answer these questions is truthfully. Often, it is the courageous, truthful answers to questions that set a candidate apart from the field. Sadly, it is just as often that a specious answer to one of these questions disqualifies a candidate for the position.

At Vanderbloemen Search Group, we help organizations build great teams. For candidates, this starts with the interview. And interviewing well begins with knowing how to interview poorly.

What are other ways potential candidates could fail an interview? Let us know your thoughts below.

If you liked this, then you'll also like Worship Pastors: 4 Essential Tips To Land The Interview.

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