15 Insightful Interview Questions for Pastors

The following pastor interview questions and answers will give you a better glimpse into your candidate’s relationship with God, theological beliefs, personal life, and working style. 

Susanna Fleming

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Expanding your church leadership team can be an extremely overwhelming process. You have to consider spiritual giftings, natural giftings, team dynamics, and the overall health of your congregation. The following pastor interview questions and answers will give you a better glimpse into your candidate’s relationship with God, theological beliefs, personal life, and working style. 

15 Questions to Ask a Potential Pastor

Category 1: Personal Theology 

When considering who to hire, it’s crucial that candidates are aligned with your church on core theological subjects. Here are three in-depth questions to ask pastors to learn more about their theological beliefs:  

1.  Can you share your personal statement of faith?

Leaving this as an open-ended question to ask a pastoral candidate will allow them to expand on the answer in whatever direction they choose. Their answer will help give you clarity on their core values, what they deem to be the most central tenets of their faith, and how they approach their relationship with God. 

2. How do you approach interpreting the Bible?

Interview questions for a pastor regarding their view on the Bible should be an integral part of the hiring journey.  You can expand on this topic with other similar questions, such as, “Do you view the Bible from a literal lens?” or “Do you think that Biblical standards should be directly tied to how we approach modern issues?”

3. Can you share about a significant spiritual experience or season of growth in your life?

While this might not necessarily indicate someone’s theological beliefs, this is a good question to ask a pastor if you want to determine their value system. Questions like these are good to ask pastoral candidates, because through their storytelling, you will be able to hear the nuances of their beliefs versus a simple, straightforward answer.

Category 2: Vision

You are not only hiring a pastor for this particular season; you’re also hiring them for the foreseeable future. Accordingly, it is important to include pastoral interview questions that tell if your candidate’s vision aligns with your leadership team’s vision. Here are two questions to ask pastors to learn more about their vision moving forward:  

4. What legacy or impact do you hope to leave in the churches you serve?

When considering pastoral interview questions and answers, it’s helpful to be future-oriented. How would the way this pastor serves your congregation now impact the future well-being of the church? 

5. What is your vision for the church, and how would you work to implement it?

This is a two-fold question to ask a potential pastor, combining both vision and practical implementation. It’s important that the person you hire is not only able to look to the future and lean into the vision that God is placing on their heart but also has the mindset and wisdom on how to execute that practically. This is one of my favorite pastor interview questions and answers because it will help you see how the candidate would work with others to accomplish the vision at hand.

Category 3: Community

The church should extend far beyond the four walls of the physical building. Here are two of the hardest questions to ask a pastor as it relates to community:  

6. What is your understanding of the role of the church in the community?

This question to ask a pastoral candidate will help you understand not only their theological belief of how the church should engage with the community but also their practical views on it. What does community outreach look like to them? How do they want to interact with other churches in the community? These are some of the best questions to ask pastors.

7. What is your approach to evangelism and discipleship?

This question has two parts: how does the pastoral candidate want to approach evangelism within the community, and what does the ideal path of discipleship look like to them? Do they have a heart for outreach? Are they a natural teacher and developer? This will help you understand their spiritual giftings to a greater degree. 

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Category 4: Personal Life

Ministry demands can weigh heavily on anyone, and you want to ensure that your candidate has tools to avoid burnout, prioritize family, and live their life outside of the church with the utmost integrity. Here are three of the hardest questions to ask a pastor regarding personal and family well-being.

8. How do you balance the demands of pastoral ministry with personal and family life?

Anyone who has ever experienced burnout or compassion fatigue will understand the significance of this question. A pastoral candidate should know what they need to do to take care of themselves and their family. Even with a hectic schedule, how do they prioritize family time? What does work-life balance look like to them? 

9. How do you stay spiritually and professionally refreshed in your role as a pastor?

Learning about the rhythms of rest that a pastoral candidate has in place is extremely beneficial. According to a recent study by the Hartford Institute for Religion Research, more than 4 out of 10 clergy have considered leaving their roles at least once since 2020. This concept is often overlooked in the interview process, but I think it’s one of the most important questions to ask a pastor.

10. How do you maintain personal integrity and accountability in your life and ministry?

It is crucial that the person you hire lives with the same morals and convictions off the stage as they do on the stage. Does your candidate have a pastoral mentor? What is their relationship with counseling? What are the boundaries they have set in place? These are all important questions to ask a prospective pastor.

Category 5: Team Dynamics 

How do your candidates navigate interpersonal relationships among volunteers or general members of the congregation? This round of pastoral interview questions and answers will help you understand how the candidate likes to communicate, motivate, and resolve conflict.

11. How have you handled conflict within a congregation?

Rather than asking how they would ideally handle conflict, it’s helpful to ask about a past situation where they did. Have them describe the situation, what they did to handle it, and if they wish they would’ve done anything different in retrospect. Conflict within the congregation is an inevitable part of ministry, and the pastoral candidate should be able to handle it with care and poise. 

12. How do you collaborate with staff and volunteers in ministry?

This is one of my favorite interview questions for a pastor because it will help you understand how the candidate will interact with the MVPs who truly keep the church operating smoothly (i.e., the volunteers)! Other pastor interview questions along these lines could be about how they have motivated volunteers in the past, how they have chosen to honor volunteers, and how they like to work alongside volunteers or staff to accomplish a vision.

13. What is your approach to building a cohesive and effective ministry team?

Does this pastoral candidate have a tendency to work on most of their ministry projects solo? Or are they more team-oriented and want to ideate and delegate as a group?  This can be one of the best questions to ask a pastoral candidate to learn about their working style. While no one style is necessarily better than the other, it’s important the candidate you are considering aligns with your vision as a church leadership team.

Category 6: Practical Implementation 

Anyone in ministry understands the need to wear multiple hats. These pastor interview questions will help you understand the candidate’s working tendencies and how they handle the general, practical, sometimes mundane ministry tasks. 

14. How do you approach pastoral care for individuals and families?

Rather than focusing on the theoretical side of this question (i.e., what SHOULD it look like), focus on the practicals. Does the pastor do hospital visits? Do they host a certain number of coffee outings per month? These can be good questions to ask a pastor to understand their workflow and interaction with the congregation. 

15. How do you handle the administrative responsibilities of a pastor?

While most pastors aren’t huge fans of administrative work, your candidate must learn to embrace at least some administrative duties. How do they manage their schedule? How do they ensure they are following up with people? What is their system for communication? 

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