Church Staff Firing, Church Staff Hiring

How to Evaluate Pastoral Candidates

When your minister search begins, you’ll have piles of resumes, doctrine statements, and cover letters to sort through. Some churches also pile on their own written surveys and questionnaires in the hope of uncovering more information about applicants. However, at Chemistry Staffing we believe there are much better ways to evaluate a pastoral candidate. Here are a few broad insights into our thorough candidate evaluation process.

Pastoral Job Interviews Are a Conversation

The interview process should help a church grasp how well a candidate fits into a position and whether this person matches the church’s culture. The best way to determine a good fit is through a face to face conversation. There should be give and take, as well follow up questions throughout the interview process.

While a resume can convey background, experience, and salary expectations, a series of written questions may favor candidates who can present themselves well on paper. When it comes to ministry, interpersonal communication, empathy, and even the basics of small talk can prove critically important. A conversational approach will help uncover these qualities in candidates.


Interviews Go Both Ways

Throughout the interview process we’ve found that candidates are doing their homework on each church they approach. If a church presents a burdensome or unprofessional interview process, that may not bode well for the future job. The “how” of the search process can matter deeply for candidates who are looking for a good ministry fit for themselves and for their families.

The greater your organization, professionalism, and efficiency throughout the process, the more highly a candidate will regard your church. We’ve spoken to plenty of candidates who have been involved in long, drawn-out interview processes where they’ve filled out significant amounts of paperwork only to wait months before any kind of response from the church.  


Candidates Need to Reveal Their Strengths

The true limitation of relying too much on internal questionnaires or evaluations is the fact that a church is limiting the candidate’s ability to respond. Throughout the interview process we’re looking for the things that drive a candidate and make them a good fit for our clients. A static questionnaire on paper doesn’t give a search committee the ability to dig deeper into a response in the moment or to measure “how” a candidate responds to a follow up question.

An interview should closely resemble the kinds of interactions that your staff will have each day in the church office. While a resume and cover letter may automatically rule out certain applicants, dynamic interactions are always the best option for narrowing down the field of candidates.


Resumes Show Growth and Achievements, Not Fit

An interview should reveal how well a church staff can imagine interacting with a potential candidate in the future. Throughout the interview process, a church should get an idea if a candidate is a good fit for the culture and is qualified to work at the church. Sometimes the right candidate comes along for a church and the existing staff adapt the positions on staff in order to find a good fit.

This common practice at major companies aims to get the best possible candidates on board and then assign tasks according to their talents. While this isn’t possible for every church to put into practice, the guiding principle of seeking someone who fits the culture and has significant talent is well worth considering.

Are you looking for support in your next church staff search? Find out how we can help make your process pain free, effective, and tailored to your church’s specific requirements. Tell us a little about what you’re looking for in the form below…

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Todd Rhoades

Todd Rhoades is the co-founder of Todd has worked with churches for over 30 years, both as a staff member and a consultant. He was the original founder of Todd lives with his wife, Dawn in Bryan, Ohio.