Manpower: People are selected and placed in positions that fit their gifts, passions and callings and that align with the church’s objectives and culture

Guide to Screening Ministerial Staff Candidates: 36 Essential Attribute Interview Questions

Screening Ministerial Staff for soft skills is one of the most challenging aspects of the interview process. Fortunately, attribute based interview questions are a proven way to reveal a candidate’s abilities in a number of job-essential soft skills.

You can better discern how they would perform in your church culture by looking at a candidate’s past behavior in 9 essential areas: Adaptability, Collaboration, Leadership, Growth, Prioritization, Hard Wiring, Interpersonal Skills, Fit, and Goal Orientation.

The following interview questions can be asked in face to face interviews or can be responded to in writing. Remember to:

  1. Give them time. Frequently, good answers come after a moment of reflection, so don’t rush candidates or write them off if they don’t respond quickly.
  2. Don’t accept hypothetical answers. Probe for specific examples and instances.
  3. Follow up. Dig deeper and explore gaps in their answers with follow up questions.

 36 Essential Attribute Interview Questions

Adaptability: To stay relevant in today’s rapidly changing world, a church has to be able to adapt.  And, that means you need church staff who can adapt as well.

  1. Tell us about a time when you were asked or required to do something as a minister that you had never done before. How did you react? What did you learn?


  1. Describe a church or ministry situation in which you embraced a new system, process or technology that was a major departure from your old ways of doing things.


  1. Tell us about the biggest change that you have had to deal with as a minister in the local church. How did you adapt to that change?


Collaboration: Hiring people who work well with other staff and church leaders is essential to having happy and productive staff and ministry teams.

  1. Provide an example of when you had to work with someone in the church who was difficult to get along with. How did you handle interactions with that person?


  1. Tell us about one of your most memorable experiences working with a staff, ministry team or church committee and describe your contribution.


Leadership: Finding staff who can set direction, inspire and influence volunteers is a key to church and ministry health and growth.

  1. Share with us the last time something significant in the life of the church didn’t go according to plan. What was your role and what was the outcome?


  1. Describe a situation where you needed to persuade someone or some group in the church to see things your way. What steps did you take? What were the results?


  1. Tell us about the most challenging leadership decision you have had to make in the last twelve months. What process did you follow to come to a decision?


  1. Share an experience where you cast a vision that was embraced by the staff and church leadership. What were the keys to their acceptance?


  1. Describe an experience in leading the church to embrace a significant change. How did you build support? What were the results?


  1. Describe a time when you successfully recruited and trained individuals for a ministry responsibility.


Growth: Hiring staff with the potential to grow with your church helps not only to save the cost of replacing them, but insures the ministries they lead will continue to evolve and grow as well.

  1. Describe a time when you took the initiative to expand your ministry or leadership knowledge without being directed to do so.


  1. When was the last time you asked for feedback? From church members? From church staff?


  1. What resources have you found helpful to stay abreast of church and ministry trends?


  1. Who are the people who have been your major career and ministry influences and why?


Prioritization: All ministers must juggle a multitude of tasks and responsibilities. Being able to discern which ones need to be tackled immediately, and which ones can wait is an important skill.

  1. Tell us about a time when you had to manage several projects at once. How did you prioritize the projects?


  1. Tell us about a ministry project that you planned. How did you organize and schedule the tasks?


  1. Describe the system you use to stay organized on a daily basis.


  1. Tell us about a time when you successfully delegated an important ministry task or responsibility that had previously been yours?


Hard Wiring: God-given personality, spiritual gifts and strengths are great indicators of how a candidate will perform their job responsibilities and interact with fellow staff and church members.

  1. What five or six adjectives best describe you?


  1. In the past, for what things have your supervisors and peers complimented you for? Criticized you for?


  1. What are your two greatest strengths? Your two greatest weaknesses?


  1. What spiritual gifts and skills have been most instrumental in your ministry success?


  1. What type of work environment do you find motivating and stimulating? Demotivating and draining?


  1. How do you handle stress?


Interpersonal Skills: The ability to resolve conflict and relate well across age, personality, socio-economic and cultural divides is an increasingly important skill in diverse ministries and churches.

  1. What sorts of people and work situations irritate you the most? How do you keep emotional control with such people and in such situations?


  1. If we asked those you work and serve with in the church to describe your interpersonal skills, what would they likely tell us about your overall effectiveness in relating to people?


  1. What steps do you follow when you sense disagreement or conflict with someone in your church? Give us an example where you used the steps.


  1. Tell us about a time when you needed to be compassionate and tactful in communicating a difficult message.


Culture Fit: Surveys show that staff who are good cultural fits have a higher job satisfaction, create less supervision problems, and are more likely to stay at the church longer.

  1. In what ways has God prepared you for this position?


  1. What aspects of this position are you most comfortable? Least comfortable? Why?


  1. What do you think it takes for a person to be successful in this position?


  1. What are the three most important things for you in a job?


Goal Orientation: Research shows that goal oriented employees are more timely in completing tasks and have superior job performance.

  1. What’s the biggest goal you have ever achieved?


  1. Tell us about the personal and ministry goals you have established within the last year and the results.


  1. What are the biggest risks you have taken in recent years? Include one risk that worked out well… and one risk that did not work out so well.

Posted on January 3, 2017

Jim Baker

Jim is a Church Organizational Leadership and Management Coach, Consultant and Trainer. Throughout his career Jim has demonstrated a passion for showing Pastors and Ministers how to use organizational tools for church and personal growth and health.

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“For I may be absent in body, but I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see how well ordered you are and the strength of your faith in Christ.” Colossians 2:5