Sample interview questions

Below are examples of questions that can open up focused dialogue with candidates. This list is meant to give search teams a feel for what a powerful question looks like, not merely to provide an interview outline to copy and paste. Your context, after all, is unique, and your questions should be tailored accordingly.

  • What life experiences have most shaped who you are as a person and pastor?
  • How do you think this position would allow you to live into your call to ministry?
  • How have your education and experiences (including non-ministry ones) prepared you for this ministry opportunity?
  • What do you understand this congregation’s strengths to be? How do your strengths align with and/or complement those of our church?
  • What pieces of ministry bring you the most joy? How do you approach the aspects that do not align with your strengths and gifts?
  • Tell us about a time you led change. What prompted the change? What was your role in the situation? How did you involve others? What were the outcomes?
  • What kinds of people are challenging for you to work with? How have you gone about working with them in the past?
  • Imagine you are fully embodying your call to ministry. What kind of environment has enabled you to do so?
  • Tell us about a time you had to improvise. What was the situation? How did you adjust midstream? What were the outcomes?
  • What’s the most difficult decision you’ve ever had to make? How did you go about it?
  • Here’s where we stand as a congregation on [hot-button political/theological issue]. How would you engage with a parishioner who came to you with a question or problem related to this issue?
  • Talk about seasons in your professional life when you were not in congregational ministry. What were the reasons? What did you gain from those seasons?
  • What does your ideal weekly schedule look like?
  • Beyond the congregation, where do you find support for your ministry?
  • Beyond the world of ministry, what do you like to learn about and/or keep current on? How do you do so?
  • What, if anything, might keep you from fully living into the role of minister in our context?

Don't hesitate to follow up on candidate responses as needed or to ask a candidate to dream with your search team about possibilities for mutual ministry.