The Do’s and Don’ts of an Onsite Interview

The Do’s And Don’ts Of An Onsite Interview.jpg

Interviewing for a new ministry position is exciting, but it can also be a nerve-wracking and stressful situation for some, especially those final onsite interviews at a church. Meeting new people, having to answer the same questions multiple times, and trying to be “on” around everyone you encounter during the process can be draining to say the least. 

While you do need to be authentic during the interview process, you also want to be the best possible version of yourself you can. As much as a church is recruiting the candidate during an onsite interview, the candidate needs to sell themselves and their value to the church as well.

Here are some guidelines to help you put your best foot forward when stepping into an onsite interview. 

1. DO come appropriately dressed.

You wouldn’t show up to a corporate interview in shorts and a t-shirt, so you shouldn’t consider that an option at a church (no matter how casual they may seem). Do your homework to find out the dress code of the church and try to match it. 

No matter what, ere on the side of being more overdressed than underdressed. If you miss the mark and are over dressed you’ll still come across as being professional and prepared. There’s no harm in that.

2. DO your homework before you get there.

Don’t waste anyone’s time at the church by asking questions you could have easily found online.

If you can google it, you shouldn’t ask it during an interview. Tweet: If you can google it, you shouldn’t ask it during an interview. via @VanderbloemenSG

Being prepared conveys a sense of drive, eagerness, and problem-solving that may separate you from the other candidates. For example, you could ask questions in the interview about the church’s culture– that kind of question is hard to answer by reading the church’s website alone. 

3. DON’T use an onsite visit as a vacation.

While taking advantage of a free plane ticket, hotel, and food allowance to bring your family to a new destination for a vacation while you interview at a church might sound appealing, it’s not a great idea. You wouldn’t show up to work with your children in town, so don’t show up to an onsite interview with them either (unless asked to do so). Using a church’s resources to squeeze in a vacation of your own can show a poor stewardship mentality and lack of interest in the actual church or job itself. 

4. DO be honest about other opportunities you might be pursuing.

Want to hear the biggest frustration in churches finding their staff? Narrowing down to one final candidate only to learn she accepted another position the day before. If you are pursuing other job opportunities, whether in the church world or not, do be honest and upfront about how far along you are in those interview processes.

Letting a church know you are expecting another offer soon will afford the church the opportunity to work with you on timing, rather than being blindsided and upset at the very end.

5. DO take notes.

Bad with names? Struggle with nerves when interviewing?  Don’t be afraid to jot down some quick notes to help jog your memory later. Following up and thanking people for their time is a lot easier when you remember their names. 

6. DO be present in the moment.

An entire day (or days) of interviews may feel overwhelming, and you'll probably need breaks. However, please do not check your social media accounts or tend to your phone unless it’s necessary.

Having your head down and staring at your phone while people are trying to show you around or otherwise get to know you is a turn-off to say the least. It can convey a lack of engagement in the process and interest in the church itself. Be present and try to stay in the moment as much as possible.

7. DON’T be late.

This sounds like a simple one, but it’s just as important. If you can’t manage your own time, how will you be able to manage the time of others?

Church campuses can be hard to navigate if you aren’t familiar with them already. Arrive early to an interview and use the extra time to go to the bathroom, gather your thoughts, and find the building/office you need to go to.    

These tips are small but could go a long way in ensuring that you leave a lasting first impression on a church.

What are some things that you’ve learned from onsite interviewing?