Landing a Job: 7 Interview Tips

Landing a Job: 7 Interview Tips

January 6, 2014 by

The new year might be time for a new job or a first job in church communication. Our new series focuses on that journey—landing a job. We’ll talk about the process of finding work in a church, what to expect and more. Today we’ll learn how to prepare for an interview.

I have a career opportunity. Now what?

I was 16 when I wanted my first job. I browsed our newspaper, found a good job and applied. A week later, the owner asked me to come to an interview. I was hired on the spot. The owner said I was the only teen who showed up in khakis, shirt and a tie.

After I graduated from college, I applied at several ad agencies. I interviewed at only one. I got the job, because I wore a suit and tie.

Times have changed though. It’s not as simple as dressing up anymore. Through the years I’ve hired many and I realize the choices the applicants make decide the outcome of the process.

Here are the 7 things I’ve learned from hiring in the church communication industry:

1. Preparation
What are you known for? Have you been preparing for this position for a long time? Would anyone know it from your courses, your volunteer positions, your social media accounts (yes, they’ll look)? Churches want serious, committed employees. Be sure to research the church too! Find something they’ve done that excites you.

2. Research
When a church (or any organization for that matter) reaches the point they need to hire someone, it’s usually for a clear reason. Try to determine what their “pain” is that caused them to look for someone. Is it “new ideas” or “overwhelmed with the workload” or “new skills,” etc.? Identify the problem; present yourself as the solution.

3. Resume
Keep it short with clean design. Demonstrate your preparation to get this job. Briefly describe how you added success to your previous positions. No long paragraphs. Write a short, specific-to-the-job cover letter that communicates how you are their solution.

4. Interview
Dress for the position, then change into something a bit dressier. Try to find out what the staff typically wears and realize most will dress up a bit to interview. From my experience, it’s usually better to stand out with an upscale, professional look. Find out who will be doing the interview. Attend the church at least once if possible.

5. Be a Solution
You’ll be nervous but shake hands and thank them for this opportunity confidently. Be natural. Never sit until the interviewer does. Listen. Identify what the interviewer is looking for in the position. Listen for their “pain.” Don’t over talk. Ask questions. Listen to the answers. Part of selling yourself is knowing what to sell. Sell why you’re the best solution. No church wants a problem identifier or problem pointer-outer; they want a problem solver. Watch for clues that the interviewer has stopped listening.

6. Ask for the Job
Every politician knows they must ask for the vote. Almost no job applicant asks for the job. End your interview with “Thank you for your time. I want to be [your solution] and learn from others on the team. This job is a great fit for me. I’d love to work here.” Ask when the decision will be made. Before leaving, hand something to the interviewer. Something that will make you remembered. A postcard with your contact information and a thank you perhaps. Be creative.

7. Follow Up
Within 24 hours send an email thanking them for their time and reiterate how you’re their solution (be specific). Keep it short. Wait a week and then follow up with another email stating that you’re still interested and you were wondering if there’s more information needed from you. Don’t be pushy or expect to hear back.


Post By:

Mark MacDonald

Mark MacDonald is an author, speaker, and strategic communication catalyst with the Florida Baptist Convention. He’s also the author of Be Known For Something. Mark is also the executive director of our nonprofit parent, the Center for Church Communication.
Read more posts by | Want to write for us?

3 Responses to “Landing a Job: 7 Interview Tips”

  • Evan Courtney
    January 6, 2014

    Great stuff Mark. These are even some great principles and advice when interviewing as a freelancer with a potential client.

     | Permalink
  • Sheri Felipe
    January 7, 2014

    This is great stuff! It’s surprising to me how many job applicants fail to follow up with simple thank you note or email. Sometimes that makes all the difference!

     | Permalink
  • Topher Endress
    August 28, 2015

    Not trying to throw a wrench in this, as I do think this indignation is very good/helpful/true. However, I’m not sure how this addresses some of the bigger issues that plague us as we try to find church positions. Namely, (1) denominationalism, while it has its perks, also limits fields prematurely (not being Lutheran can prevent getting and interview at a Lutheran church, for example),and (2) churches offer volunteer experiences to youth while privileging full-time ministry work when hiring. A person coming out of seminary, even with undergraduate and master’s degrees, may not have any formal ministry experience since churches rarely offer paid positions. Likely, they have several years of working in and around churches, but may never received a paycheck.
    Obviously, working for a church is a calling and that makes some of these issues more ‘digestible,’ if you will; still, what tips might you offer to specifically offset these problems?

     | Permalink