Interviewing Do’s And Don’ts In Ministry


In today’s competitive job market, you may be up against people with more education or more experience. But even smart people make simple mistakes in interviews, and knowing the following do's and don'ts just might land you the job.

Employers report interviewing candidates who took their shoes off, consulted “how to interview” books, or even got arrested because of the background check results—all during the interview. Amazingly, the majority also report candidates who texted during the interview or acted bored to be there.

You can do better than that—a lot better. Here are eight ways to set yourself apart from the competition—even the ones who leave their shoes on.

      1. Do your homework. Almost every church and ministry organization has a website, and you need to read every word. Know the key church staff, the ministry history, its vision and mission statement, and any significant programs or goals. Do they have a Facebook page? Read the latest updates. You’ll have a chance to ask questions during the interview—make sure you know enough to ask something relevant and insightful.  
      2. Don’t bluff. If you’ve done the research, it will show, but no one can know everything. No need to be embarrassed about a gap in your knowledge—give the best answer you can, informed by what you do know, and tell the interviewer you look forward to learning more.
      3. Be positive. You can’t control the questions asked, but you can choose your demeanor. Be positive and enthusiastic about the organization and its mission.
      4. Details matter. You’re not good with names? Remember the names of your church staff interviewer and others you’re introduced to, even if it takes a mnemonic (Candy in HR is super sweet). Take cues from their body language (do they want you to wrap up what you’re saying?).
      5. Smell like soap, clean clothes, or—even better—nothing at all. Do not smell like perfume, cologne, food, coffee, or smoke. Fresh breath is great, but remember to dispose of the gum before you get there.
      6. Focus. Get there early so you can stop in the bathroom before the interview starts, and turn off your cell completely. This new job could pay your cell phone bills—give the interview your full attention.
      7. Show and Tell. A side benefit of all that research is an understanding of opportunities andchallenges the organization may be facing. Prepare ahead of time to illustrate your experience in similar situations or present a solution for one thorny issue.
      8. Be remembered for the right reasons. If you show up early, remember people’s names, listen thoughtfully, speak intelligently, and interact positively, you will be remembered—no “how to “ books required.

What is your interview advice? Share your tips that have helped you prepare confidently for an interview.