A few years ago I wrote an article called 11 Important Youth Pastor Job Interview Questions You Should Be Able To Answer (It’s been my most viewed post). Next, I wrote and article called 5 Critical Job Interview Questions Every Youth Pastor Should Ask
I would like to add to the list of questions you should ask your potential employer because the answers could affect your decision to accept a position or not.
What does an average week look like?
This question will give you a peek into what the church values and how they want you to spend your time.
How do you see the youth ministry being apart of the overall vision of the church?
How the youth are viewed in church could sway your thoughts about he job. If the church does not see the church as an intricate part of the church vision, why have a youth pastor?
Are there any expectations of me that are not in the job description?
It’s a good question and it may or may not be answered, but yes, there are expectations that are not in writing. The Pastor, the congregation, the board, the parents, will all have expectations that are not in writing. Consider unspoken expectations as part of the job and nothing will catch you off guard.
Will we be a team or will we be running separate ministries?
This question has some relation to question two. This question is key because if the church is running a silo (separate) paradigm where there is no expectation of team work among the ministries, it’s going to be hard to accomplish a vision together.
What does success look like? In five years, what are you hoping the youth ministry will look like?
I have to be honest, most churches do not have an answer to this. The pastor will have to answer this because he or she is the one who will set the pace for success. It’s unfair to hold any other ministry to higher standards if the pastor will not hold themselves to the same standard.
Why are you hiring? What happened to the previous person?
In one church I was interviewing at, I asked if I could have the phone number of the previous youth pastor. They gave it to me because the separation from the previous youth pastor was amicable. He had moved to Memphis to start a church. I am not saying you should ask for the phone number, I did because I was moving into a new state and needed all the information I could get.
How do you handle conflict in the church, between staff, with congregation and staff?
You will get one answer and see another. Be prepared for a gap in theory and practice. I’m not saying everyone is a hypocrite when it comets this, it’s just that some people are more special than others. If there is a handbook, I would definitely just cross this section out because the rules that apply to you will not apply to someone else.
What are your expectations of my wife/family?
Many churches think when they hire you, they are hiring your wife. This is called a two-for as in two for one. Two people working but one getting paid. It’s important to your family life that you know what is expected of you wife.
My wife and I worked at the same church, I as youth pastor and her as a teacher. One day we were sitting around complaining and I said, “We have to get different jobs. We can’t come home and complain about the same people.” And its true. Separation in jobs gives each of you a break from the toxicity that can build up when working for or with the same people.
How will I be evaluated? Who will do the evaluating?
When I worked in the Methodist church for a year, I was unprepared for the level betrayal I felt. Basically, and correct me if this is not how it happens in all Methodist churches, but they held all their criticisms for about four months to unless them all in one meeting.
There was no auto correct as we went. I felt like I was on the the Seinfeld episode where I was sitting at the Costanza house celebrating Festivas; there was an airing of grievances and I was waiting for the feats of strength and wrestling to occur.
If there is a quarterly review, find out who you have to make happy.
What is your philosophy of youth ministry?
This is the kind of question they would as you, but its time to turn the tables, because it matters little about what your philosophy is. It’s best to find out the Pastors philosophy first and then see if yours matches his or hers.
Ask up front, do you want me to take care of these kids in the church or reach the lost? They will say “Both” but you will quickly find out that that is a lie. When it comes down to it, your job will be to put church kids first and then, maybe, get around to reaching lost kids, if the parents and students tell you its ok to do that.
Who do I answer to? Who hires and fires? The board or the pastor?
You may have to do some research on this one. You probably cannot ask this directly, so you maybe need to find out how this was handled with previous youth pastors or staff. I bet, if you pay attention, you can figure it out.
What do you (the committee) see as goals for my first year here?
This is a good question because you can start to determine a plan of action form what is said. You can also ask, what do your students not know that you wish they knew? What are your students not doing that you wish you would see them start doing?
How do you handle other people’s failures or how do see failure as a part of growth?
How the pastor sees failure will show he will treat your failures and you will fail, at some point. Knowing your bosses response a head of time will either put you at ease or crank up your anxiety
This is not a question, but you might want to ask for a church budget and/or the constitution and by-laws. The constitution tells you the rules you will be governed by. The budget tells you the church priorities by showing how they spend their money. If you know where they are spending the money, you know the future of this church.
Have a question you wish you would have asked in a job interview? Leave it in the comments?
Would you like a practice interview? I’ll happily grill you like a pork chop to get you ready for the real thing. Click here for more info.