How To Interview Someone

I get to interview people for a job about once a year. I really enjoy the process of interviewing someone, even if it is a bit daunting and making a decision about who to employ is never the easiest thing and telling someone they didn’t get a job is never the funnest. The problem is doing it once a year means you never really get any good at it. You do the interview process and think “oh gosh, we could have done that a lot better” and then because you don’t go through it for another eleven and a half months you never think about it again and so the next time you do exactly the same things. With things you do week in and week out the problem is finding time to stop and think about them and changing them, with interviews it’s the opposite process, it’s not the time to think but the time to change that you’re missing. So, mostly to help me to not be such a lame-ass next time –but possibly benefiting you as well– here are my most recent observations on interviews. In all this I’m writing about interviewing people who are going for jobs in Christian ministry.

Basic Stuff

They’re your brother or sister in Christ, they are, hopefully, a Godly person who wants to know if they’re right for the job as much as you do. You shouldn’t be wanting to trick them or catch them out, you want to give them as much information as possible to see if they are right for the job.

Have all the questions written down beforehand and make sure everyone interviewing the candidates has copies of them and know which questions are theirs. Don’t feel awfully obliged to stick to the script, if they say something interesting pick them up on it, go off track. Make sure someone is taking a lead on the interviews to bring people back on though. Make sure everyone interviewing has read all the references, applications, CVs all the rest. Take notes if you can while listening so when people afterwards say “so, why did you give them the job” you can tell them. It’s a lot easier to prove someone should have the job if you can say “it’s because they answered this question like this”. Open the interview in prayer.

Good Questions To Ask

  • Why do you want this job?
  • What are you reading right now? / What’s been the most influential book you’ve read? You can say here “aside from the Bible obviously” or don’t say it and see if or how they mention it.
  • What did you do while you were doing this job? (Inserting a job out of their CV)
  • Our aim here is “to make Christ known”. What do you think of that? (or whatever your aim is)
  • How would you deal with this practical situation? We used “a parent complains about what you were teaching their child” and “a young person becomes a Christian”. If I was only allowed to ask questions in one style it’d be this one.

Things To Consider

  • You only get a set number of questions before you all start to flag. Before the interview make sure you’ve asked of every question “what is this question trying to find out?” Often you can scratch the answers this way, or you can ask what you’re trying to find out bluntly rather than in a roundabout way. If you want to find out if they believe in spiritual gifts, ask them if they believe in spiritual gifts, not “describe your experience of ministering to people in the power of the Holy Spirit” (not that that might not be a valid question).
  • You often end up afraid of asking questions that are relevant because you feel that it’s not fair to ask that in an interview. If it’s relevant for the job, you’re probably safe answering it.
  • You can and should ask people about Jesus Christ. I mean, they should love him, so ask them more about Him. And their theology. Everything. Ask lots.