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A blog of the Evangelical Lutheran Liturgy

If you're going to do it, do it right.

Interviewing candidates for calls is here to stay. It's not ideal perhaps, but it's the reality. So, if interviewing is here to stay, we may as well do it right. Besides, pastors typically don't interview for posts they have no desire or inclination to take. Pastors interview because they're looking. So put your best foot forward. Take it seriously.

Interviewing, especially phone interviews, are awkward. They are like blind dates. Everyone is nervous, and no one gets a true picture of what the other is really like. However, you can help take the edge off, which makes you memorable, and even in some cases, likable. And when interviewing memorable and likable are important.

First, even though this may not be your default personality, try to be outgoing. And that means be conversational. You don't have to be outgoing Worldview Everlasting style, ala Rev. Jonathan Fisk, although it wouldn't necessarily hurt. Just use a tone that communicates interest and warmth. Greet them. Ask questions. Take an interest in who they are and what they've been through. And this may require a little research. Look at their Web site. Google the congregation. Find out if a classmate or friend is in the circuit. You're looking for information you can use to ask some questions that engage the people on the committee about who they are, how they see themselves, etc. This shows your interest and care, but it might also prove helpful to you if the call comes to you.

Second, pray with them. I know it sounds cheesy to pray over the phone. But from the circuit counselors I've talked to, the one thing that puts a candidate's name at the top of the list is praying with the committee after the interview is over. Pray that they would receive a pastor. Pray that they won't lose heart during the process. For there are a lot of Lutheran things that the laity of the LCMS don't believe anymore or have forgotten about, but they still believe in prayer. So pray with them.

Third, if you haven't already, review and update your SET and your PIF. Congregations and call committees are looking at them, and they care about what you've written. So take some time to know what you have written, and be ready to explain further any questions the committee may have about them

Then do what you might do for any job interview. Take some time to review interview best practices and how-tos. Learn what some of the top-asked interview questions are and be prepared to answer them. Have some questions of your own for the committee. But just don't ask them like this: