50 Prospective Pastor Interview Questions Search Committees Should Ask


If you are looking for a new pastor, you may be searching for the perfect pastor interview questions to ask during a face-to-face with the candidate.  

When looking for a great pastoral candidate, first pray. Pray that you find the right person for your church, or that they find you. You want someone with a great character, conscious and a capacity for caring among many other characteristics.  

To help find that person, we have 50 critical questions for prospective pastors looking to join your church. The questions we have selected include Christian education, counseling, past experience, pastoral care and much more.  There are many other questions church leaders can ask a prospective pastor, these are just a jumping-off point, but we hope these questions for pastor interview help get you started. 

Pastor Interview Questions About Christian Education 

Christian education is vital for pastors. Education to pass along to their congregation, youth and community and continue for themselves. It's important you know how potential candidates view this topic and learn how they will implement it throughout leadership practices in the church.  

The following eight questions for pastor interviews will give a clear understanding of how a candidate views education and their role in it.  

Pastor Search Committee Kit

1. Do You Have Plans for Future Education?

The answer to this question can tell a lot about the person and their future goals. It may also show they are willing to work in a certain field, what plans for their education and what kind of lifestyle they want. It also gives insight into how committed they are to the pastoral profession.

2. How Do You Believe the Church Should Be Involved with Continuing Education?

The answer to this question can give you a look at how pastoral candidates think about the church and its involvement in continuing education 

It is important for pastors to be aware of what's going on in their community as well as help people learn more about God, thus the need for continuing education.  

3. Do You Encourage Participation in State and Associational Trainings? Why or Why Not?

This is one of the most popular and critical questions for prospective pastors. Most people assume pastoral candidates would be active participants in any training given, but not always... so it’s good to ask. The answer to this question would also show how much commitment the candidate has to their career.

4. What are the Most Valuable Skills You Bring to the Church and How Did You Obtain Them?

The answer to this two-part question will say a lot about a pastoral candidate. If they mention that they have an extensive amount of experience with people, they may likely be a great fit for your congregation. 

If they mention they have a professional background in another field, delve a little deeper. See what they’re good at. Those skills could also benefit your ministry.

5. Describe Your Present Model for Education in the Church.

Answering pastor interview questions like this, about education models in the church, gives you a glimpse of how the candidate would approach pastoral work. 

Their response will give you a good idea of whether they have meaningful and relevant experience in their field.  

6. What Successful Approach Have You Found for Adult Education?

Adult education is a topic that is often overlooked in the church. It's important to ask pastoral candidates about their approach to adult education and how they have found success in this area. 

There are many approaches to adult education in the church: 

7. What is Your Role in Christian Education?

The answer to this question can give you a good idea of what role the candidate will play in your church. It also tells you a lot about their personality, which is important. Will this person integrate well with other personalities at your church?  

A pastoral candidate needs to be clear about their role in Christian Education. The role of a pastor in Christian education is to create and support a community that allows for the development of an individual's faith. They should be aware of the different needs of their students such as spiritual, academic and social. They should also be able to provide advice on these needs and help students find solutions to them. The answer to this question will allow you to recognize if the candidate is ready to take on the role.

8. What Educational Programs Do You Emphasize? 

Pastoral candidates should be able to answer this question with confidence. It shows they have experience in the field or have done their research and have thought about what they want out of their careers. 

The answer says a lot about the person's personality. It also reveals how they would function in the workplace and highlights that they are self-motivated and are not afraid of hard work. 

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Pastor Interview Questions About Counseling 

Counseling is an important aspect of a pastor's job. People of all ages have struggles that they go to pastors about. How a candidate handles those situations will reveal how good of a fit they are for your church.  

How a person candidates answer the following questions for pastor interviews will let you know how they would likely perform at your church.

9. What is Your Position on Pastoral Counseling?

Asking a pastoral candidate about pastoral counseling can be a good way to get a sense of where there head is at. You'll also gain insight into what they believe in and the work they do in the field. 

Pastors are not required to complete pastoral counseling training and it is not an essential part of pastoral ministry. However, it is important for pastors to understand how pastoral counseling works and what it means for their ministry. 

Pastoral counseling can be helpful for pastors as well as the people they are ministering to. Pastors should be open-minded about this form of ministry. The best candidates will be willing to learn more about it from colleagues or books.

10. Do You Consider Yourself a Counselor?

Answering pastor interview questions like this can help you understand if the candidate has the characteristics that you are looking for in a candidate you hope will take on counselors' duties. Some pastoral candidates might not consider themselves counselors. Instead, they see themselves as a spiritual leader or minister. 

If they answer no to the question, it could be an indication of their personality and what they have been doing in their previous jobs. While they may not be trained in counseling or have the same skillset as a therapist or counselor, they could still help people with their spiritual needs and provide them with advice on how to live a better life spiritually.

11. Describe Your Approach to Premarital Counseling 

The answer about how they approach premarital counseling says a lot about them as a person and their pastoral approach. If they are open to discussing uncomfortable topics, then they may have some helpful insights into your congregation's needs. These topics include sex, divorce and intimacy.  

But, if that’s what you’re looking for and they don't talk about these topics at all, it could mean this person isn't the best fit for your congregation. Pastors should always be sensitive to the needs of their parishioners. They should also be mindful of the fact that premarital counseling can be a difficult experience for some couples. 

Pastors should keep in mind that premarital counseling is not just about finding out whether a couple will be happy or not. It also helps couples to better understand each other. It can also identify their strengths and weaknesses and their expectations from each other. 

Pastor Interview Questions About Experience 

Experience is an important topic during the pastor interview process and a set of critical questions for prospective pastors. Pastors could have gained their experience in many ways. Ask the following questions for pastor interviews to get a deeper understanding of your candidate's past: 

12. Describe Your Ideal Church Policy Structure

Knowing what a candidate wants out of a church policy structure is an important step in the process. How they answer this question tells you a lot about how they worked in the past and how they expect the church to work and help others.  

The answer tells you their values, goals and what they are looking for in a church. It also gives you an idea of what kind of church they would be good at leading. 

A good church policy should always include the following: 

  • A clear mission statement describing what the church is about 
  • A list of values that everyone who joins the church should agree with 
  • A list of policies to help guide members in their day-to-day life 
  • A description of how the church meets its financial needs 
  • A formula for distributing money to members 
  • A list of contact details for people who might be interested in finding out more about joining 

13. How Do You Describe a Successful Worship Service?

A successful worship service is one where the congregation feels connected to God, the pastor and each other. It's a place where people are encouraged to be open about their struggles and where people worship God with open and whole hearts. 

The candidate should know how they would lead a congregation at such an event. The answer to pastor interview questions like this should show they have an appreciation for people's needs and are excited about bringing God’s word to worship.

14. How Do You Make Changes in the Church?

The answer to this question reveals a lot about the candidate's personality. It can also tell you about their values and what they are looking for in a church. 

The answer to this question can bring insight into how pastoral candidates think. It is important to ask them how they make changes in the church because it will show if they have the right skills and mindset for your church. 

Pastors have a lot of power in their hands. They can make changes in their churches and reach out to people who are in need. But, there are many challenges that come with this responsibility.

15. What Style of Public Worship and Preaching Do You Prefer?

Pastoral candidates often prefer a particular style of public preaching and worship. You should ask what style of preaching and worship a candidate prefers. The answer gives you a better understanding of their personality and ministry strengths. 

When asking this question, it is important to note the answer should only be a signifier of their preferences, not an indication of how they would lead the ministry.

16. What Have You Learned from Past Congregations to Make You a Better Pastor?

Pastoral candidates learn from their past experiences. They learn how to lead a church, how to communicate with different people and how to take care of a congregation. These are all important skills that pastoral candidates need in order to be effective pastors. 

It is helpful for candidates to answer this question because it will help you understand what they have learned. It will also show what they can offer their new congregation.

17. How Have You Approached Financial Stewardship Issues in Past Congregations?

Pastors are responsible for the finances of the church, which means they should be able to answer this question with ease.  

There are several ways to approach pastor interview questions like this. One way is by asking what the candidate has been able to do in previous congregations that relate to financial issues. You can also ask how they have approached these issues in their personal life. Another way to go is to ask; whom they would like to help, or what they would like to do to help if they were a pastor.

18. How Do You Prepare Sermons?

The best candidates prepare their sermons in advance. They consider what the congregation would be most interested in hearing about. Many focus on ongoing or current events or issues and prepare sermons accordingly. 

The answer to this question is a great way to get a sense of what the person is like, and it will give you an insight into how they think and approach their work.

19. How Do You Prefer to Conduct Business Meetings?

The answer to this question reveals a lot about the person's personality, communication style and work ethic. You should take note of it and use it in your decision-making process. 

The best way for pastors to conduct business meetings is by having clear goals and objectives in mind before the meeting begins. They should also prepare an agenda in advance that includes all the necessary items they want to cover. This will help them avoid unnecessary distractions and focus on what they need to do.

20. What Types of Staff Conflicts Have You Dealt with in the Past?

Pastoral candidates should be honest about their experiences and what conflicts they have learned from the past. They should also explain how these situations have helped them grow as a person and as an employee. This will give you a better understanding of how the person will work with their staff and what they, and you, can expect from them.

21. Have You Ever Had to Terminate a Church Staff Member?

Pastoral candidates should be honest with their answers. They should be ready to handle tough situations and decisions that may come up in their work. 

If they have terminated a staff member, ask for the details.

22. Can You Tell Us About Past Teaching, Counseling or Leadership Roles? 

All these experiences provide insight into the candidate's skills and abilities. Personal life experiences can also have an impact on leadership style, especially for leadership roles. 

Pastor Interview Questions About Pastoral Care  

How a candidate views pastoral care is an important consideration. The following are critical questions for prospective pastors that give insight into those beliefs.

23. What Do You Like Most About the Ministry?

The answer to this question is not always so clear-cut. Some candidates might say they like being able to be hands-on with people and help them with their spiritual needs. Others might say they enjoy being able to talk about God in a way that can inspire people. There aren't really any wrong answers to this question.  

But the answer to this question will reveal a lot about the person. It can show their personality, their values and how they approach their work. The deeper they get with their answer, the more you know about your candidate. It will help you make a better decision about whether they are right for the job.

24. What Do You Like Least About the Ministry?

It is important to ask this question early in the interview process so that you can find out if there are any red flags that would make them a bad fit. This question helps you understand their personality and how they might respond to different situations. Like the “what do you like most” question, it also determines if they would be a good fit for your church.

25. What Tasks Are Most Important as a Pastor?

Candidates are often asked pastor interview questions like this and it’s not always easy to answer. There are many different tasks required of pastors. And many candidates will say “all of them.” But that’s not the point of the question. 

Pastors must be able to lead, teach, counsel and serve the people of their congregation. To do this effectively, they should understand what is most important for them to do in their role as pastors.

26. What Should the Core Values of Your Church Be?

When you are interviewing a pastoral candidate, you should ask them what the core values should be at the church they would be working at. This will help you get a better idea of their values and beliefs.  

While a lot of churches have similar core values, it is important to know which one the candidate would like to work with.

27. What Role Does Pastoral Care and Counseling Play to a Pastor?

Pastoral care and counseling are a vital part of pastoral ministry. Pastors need the knowledge and skills to effectively counsel their flock. It is an essential part of a pastor’s role and should be emphasized in pastoral candidates.  

Pastor roles are multifaceted, and it is important they know how to provide the best care. Pastoral care and counseling should not be limited to just spiritual healing, but should also address issues such as: 

  • Mental health 
  • Substance abuse 
  • Domestic violence 
  • Divorce 
  • Social issues 

The answer to this question will allow you to figure out if a candidate is a right fit for your church.

28. What Duties are More Important than Pastoral Care?

This is one of those pastor interview questions that says a lot about the candidate. The person who says pastoral care is the most important duty would be someone committed to the role with a passion for it. 

This question can also assess how well the person will perform in their job. If they say pastoral care is not their top priority, they may not have the commitment or passion needed for this type of position.

29. What Duties are Less Important than Pastoral Care?

Asking the pastoral candidate this question is a good way to find out how much they are willing to do. Less important duties than pastoral care are those which are not essential to the spiritual life of the people. If a candidate has no problem doing these tasks, that is a good sign they will be able to do everything else required in their job.

30. How Do You Equip Church Members to Care for Other Members?

The answer to this question reveals a lot about what the pastoral candidate thinks about his or her role. It also reflects on how they think about the church and how they want to be accepted by it. 

This question can tell you about a pastoral candidate’s understanding of the church’s role and their ability to equip other members with skills and knowledge.  

31. How Do You View Your Role in Visiting Members and Guests?

The answer to this question reveals how pastoral candidates view themselves as spiritual leaders. It also tells you about their work ethic, communication skills and ability to build relationships with others. 

Members and guests are an important part of pastoral care, but some people might not see it as a priority. It's also an important part of the church's mission to reach out to those who are hurting or lonely.

32. Do You Think a Pastor Should Have an Unlisted Phone Number? Why or Why Not? 

This question uncovers how candidates feel about their privacy. Questions like this can provide insight into their feelings, thoughts and beliefs and help us understand what they are looking for in a church. 

Many people think it is important for pastors to have an unlisted phone number so they can avoid distracting calls or texts from both the public and members of their congregation. Others think having a public phone number makes the pastor more accessible and it’s easier to reach out when they need pastoral care. 

The answer from a pastoral candidate to this question will give you valuable insight into their state of mind. 

General Pastor Interview Questions  

There are several general questions to ask pastoral candidates. The following questions for pastor interviews give insight into the candidate's beliefs, personality and leadership style.

33. How Do You Respond to Criticism?

Oftentimes and for whatever reason, pastors receive criticism. So, candidates should be asked how they respond to it.  

First, it gives the opportunity for candidates to share their own thoughts about what it means for them. Second, it allows you to hear how they would respond in a specific situation. Third, it provides insight into how the candidate thinks and responds to situations that might come up in their pastoral ministry. 

34. What Is the Most Important Thing to Do During Your First Year with a Church?

The answer to this question can provide insight into how pastoral candidates prioritize their work. The answer can also give an idea of how they would approach their work and what they are looking for in a church. 

The first year of work is a critical time for a new pastor. The most important thing to do during this time is to get familiar with the church, its members and its mission. The answer should show they are committed to the mission and how they will be able to help it grow.

35. How Should the Church Engage in Mission Work?

This is one of those pastor interview questions that helps to get a sense of what the candidate thinks about the church's role in mission work. It also helps you get a sense of how they would lead.  

It is important to ask this question because it demonstrates the person has thought about how the church should engage in mission work. Some candidates may go into extensive detail, showing they have given deep thought how to do so.

36. What are Your Strengths?

The answer to this question is important because it tells you how well they will be able to contribute to a team setting. You’ll get a better idea of the candidate’s skill set, how they will contribute to the church and how well they will be able to communicate with your congregation. 

Pastors have a lot to offer in the church and beyond. Pastors can preach, lead a congregation and provide spiritual guidance. They are also given the opportunity to build relationships with their community members. 

Some of the most common strengths pastors might consider their strengths include: 

  • Empathy 
  • People skills 
  • Ability to build relationships 
  • Creativity 
  • Extensive knowledge of different religions 
  • Deep understanding of scripture  

37. What Are Your Weaknesses?

This is a common question in pretty much every job interview, and it’s no different here. It helps the candidate identify areas in which they can grow and develop. It also gives you an idea of how your candidate works and what he or she needs to do to grow to be more successful in this role. 

It's important for you to listen to the weaknesses and consider them. Is the candidate and his or her weaknesses a good fit for your church?  

38. What Is Your Leadership Style?

The leadership style of a pastoral candidate is an important factor to consider when hiring them. Adding this to your pastor interview questions will help you understand how they will lead your team and will be able to handle certain situations. Pastoral candidates are the backbone of churches, and it is important to find the right one for your church. 

There are many leadership styles for pastors to apply. The best style for pastors is one that is effective and productive. Styles may change from church to church, depending on the needs of the congregation.  

The best way to lead a church is to be a servant leader. A servant leader does not use their position to control others or make decisions for them. Instead, they use their position as a means of serving the needs of those under them and making sure they can reach their full potential. This type of leadership style also helps create an environment where people feel safe and encouraged in what they are doing. 

So, the answer to this question is an important one. What leadership style do you want for your church?

39. What Measures Do You Have in Place for Accountability?

Accountability is a key component of pastoral ministry. Pastoral candidates must take personal accountability for their actions and decisions. 

Pastoral candidates should be able to demonstrate they have a plan in place for transparency and accountability. They should also be able to show how their past experience will help them succeed in this role and how committed they are to being accountable.

40. What Measures Should Be in Place for Staff Accountability?

Staff accountability is a vital part of any organization. It is important to ask pastor interview questions like this to see what measures should be in place for staff accountability. This question is a way of assessing if the candidate has thought about accountability measures... and if they have, how they will be able to address them. 

It’s not just about them having a staff accountability plan. It’s also about the congregation being able to have an idea of what that plan looks like and how they can hold their pastor accountable.

41. What Responsibility Do You Feel the Church Has to Serve the Community?

This question is important because it allows them to demonstrate their understanding of the church’s role in society. It also reveals how they view the church’s responsibility to the community and helps them determine if they are a good fit for your church. 

The question is important because it helps you know if a candidate is willing to serve their community, not just themselves. It also determines what kind of contribution the person wants to make to the community.

42. How Can the Church Best Support You and/or Your Family?

The church should be able to provide a safe place where people feel accepted and loved. Pastoral candidates want a church that will support them in their faith journey as well as help them learn more about it. 

This question provides an opportunity for the candidate to talk about their life and what they need from the church. They might have some specific needs related to their family or personal life to discuss. These needs may or may not have been met in the past.

43. What Motivates You as a Pastor?

We know that pastoral candidates have several motivations for becoming pastors. Some are in it for the money, some for the glory and some because God call them to be pastors. The question of what motivates them is important to ask to understand what they are looking for from the church. 

For the most part, pastoral candidate motivations are broken down into three categories: 

  • Spiritual: It is about finding a church that has a deep understanding of spiritual matters and has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ 
  • Social: It is about finding an environment where they can make friends and build relationships with people who share their values 
  • Financial: It is about finding an environment where they are paid well and have opportunities to grow professionally 
  1. How Do You Cope with Stress?

Stress is a normal human experience, but it can be overwhelming and difficult to manage if you don't have the right coping skills. So, it’s important to pastor interview questions like this to see how they deal with stress since it has effects on their well-being.  

This question will allow candidates to show their strengths and weaknesses in managing stress. It will also give you insights into how they would respond in high-pressure situations.

45. Who Are Your Spiritual Role Models?

Finding out who a person’s spiritual role model is can give you a better idea of how they are going to lead the congregation.  

This question is also a great way to help you understand what their faith means to a person, their values and what they believe in and how they think about spiritual leadership.

46. What Are Your Long-Term Career Goals?

Long-term career goals are important to consider for potential candidates. The answer gives candidates an opportunity to share their passions and motivations with you. They also discuss what they want from their work.  

The more you learn about candidates, the better you'll be able to make a sound decision about who is the best fit.  

The interviewee might want to use this opportunity to tell you about their long-term career goals. Their hopes and dreams for the future reveal a lot about who they are and how long they will stay with your church. It also gives you insight into how they think about ministry and what their future plans might look like.

47. Is There Anything in Your Background Check You Want to Discuss?

If you are interviewing a candidate for a pastoral position, you should ask them this question. You should also listen carefully to what they have to say. If they have something that they feel uncomfortable discussing with you, or they are stumbling through their answer, get some clarity. If there is something hidden in their past, it may be time to move on from the interview process. 

Pastor Interview Questions About Theological and Ethical Activities  

Asking a pastoral candidate about theological and ethical practices is a must for churches. The following questions will give you insight into their idealities: 

48. Describe a Personal Experience That Shaped Your Personal Theology

Life experiences shape our personal theologies, both good and bad. Our religious upbringing or even spiritual practices that we engage in daily also influences it. This question will help the candidate dig deeper into their beliefs. 

It also helps you understand candidates on a deeper level. Knowing more about their ethics and theologies gives you a clearer understanding of how they will lead the church. The answer to this question can also help them determine whether they would be a good fit for their position.

49. To What Degree Do You Differ from the Historical Doctrinal Positions of This Church?

The question is a great way to get a sense of how well someone understands your church's history and theology. This question can also give you a sense of how they view themselves in relation to their denomination.

50. Describe Several Ethical Principles That Guide Your Work 

It is important to ask this, making sure the pastoral candidate understands the moral and ethical implications of their work. It also helps you decide whether they are a good fit. 

When you ask them about how they would approach a particular situation, it allows you to know more about the person's personality. It also helps you understand how they will react in certain situations. The following are a few ethical examples you could bring up as an example: 

  • Respect for others and for the environment 
  • Integrity in relationships 
  • Responsibility over power 
  • Equality and justice

Looking for Free Materials and Guides for Your Pastor Search Committee?

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Hiring a new pastor is a big decision, and it isn't easy. That's why we built a free kit complete with...

  • 49 sample pastor interview questions for your interviews.
  • Pastor search committee sample letters to communicate with candidates and references.
  • Sample form of an authorization of records to conduct a background check.
  • Sermon evaluation form sample for pastoral finalists.
  • Sample survey questions for your congregation to identify the characteristics most important to them in a future pastor.
  • A pastor search committee handbook to guide you through the process of choosing a new pastor.

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