7 Types of Questions to Ask During an Interview

Every church comes to that important moment in their growth where they begin hiring staff. When a church is small, a bad hire can severely handicap your ministry. But regardless of your church’s size, you never want to make a bad hire, which, honestly, is nearly impossible to completely avoid. No matter how many layers there are in your hiring process, and no matter how many assessments you do, there’s always a gamble when hiring new staff.

In a previous post I shared 8 Ideas for Creating an Effective Hiring Process. And in my book, Creating Your Church’s Culture (available on Amazon or Kindle) I have an entire chapter on hiring to fit your culture. Today, I’d like to share seven types of questions to ask when conducting an interview.

1. History Questions – These questions address education, work history and responsibilities, what they find most fulfilling and demotivating in their work, and general information about the candidate. It’s like a “get to know you” aspect of interviewing.

2. Spiritual Journey & Personal Growth Questions – These questions explore the candidates spiritual journey, when and how they came to Christ, significant highlights in their spiritual journey, understanding how their beliefs resonate with your church (and denomination), and gauging their commitment to personal and professional growth.

3. Character Questions – Character is obviously a non-negotiable when hiring staff. Character questions address integrity, greatest character strengths and weaknesses, how the candidate handles moral or ethical dilemmas, and an assessment of the candidates personal character.

4. Chemistry, Values, and Philosophy Questions – This is one of the most difficult aspects to evaluate in a candidate. Honestly, the more time you can spend interacting with them  the better you’ll be able to assess their fit. Do a personality assessment and an emotional intelligence assessment. Furthermore, there should be opportunity to see them interact with your team face to face. Ask them questions about their core values as well as if there’s a particular model of ministry that they resonate with most (purpose-driven, emergent, seeker-sensitive, multi-site, cell church, traditional, missional, etc.). If your church operates by one model but they are passionate about a different model, they may find themselves frustrated in your system. Furthermore, two good question to ask are:

  • What are two ways I would find challenging in leading you?
  • What would other people who have worked with you say about you (boss, peers, direct reports)?

5. Passion Questions – Just because a candidate has the right skill set to do the job doesn’t mean they will find fulfillment in the role. There must be passion for what they will be doing. Passion questions include:

  • What is important to you in a church? In the leadership of the church?
  • What are you most passionate about in life and in your work?
  • What do you consider to be your life mission and/or life goals?
  • How would a role on our team help you further fulfill your life mission and goals?

6. Competence Questions – These questions drill down on the candidate’s ability to do the job, their experience, and how God has uniquely wired them. Competence questions include:

  • Where do you fall on the Creator/Developer/Manager scale?
  • What kind of leader are you (technician, equipper, or multiplier)?
  • What are your natural abilities and skills and how are you using them?
  • What are your primary spiritual gifts and how are you using them?
  • Would you consider yourself more “task-oriented” or “people-oriented”? Which one puts emotional energy in your sails?
  • What computer programs are you proficient in?
  • What in your previous work environments contributed to your success (things beside your own personal competencies)?
  • What aspects of this ministry role do you enjoy most? Least?
  • Describe your leadership/management style when working with a team.
  • On a scale from 1 to 10 (10 being the best) how would you rank your time management skills? Attention to detail? Self-Starter? Follow-Through on Tasks and Projects?
  • Questions specifically related to the role and experience in areas related to the role.

7. General Questions – Conclude your questions by asking how soon they would be available to start (should an offer be extended), how their family feels about the opportunity, how long they could see themselves in this role, and what their specific salary requirements are. While salary can be addressed in more detail in a later interview, I always ask this question in the first interview so that we don’t continue the interview process if the candidate is completely outside of our ballpark.

Obviously you need to give the candidate the opportunity to ask you questions as well. In fact, a good interview is not just about you interviewing them, but them having the opportunity to interview you too. Be sure to check out 8 Ideas for Creating an Effective Hiring Process to further guide your interview strategy. And pick up a copy of my book, Creating Your Church’s Culture, available on Amazon or Kindle to learn more about effective hiring.

Question: What questions have you found helpful in the interview process?