As noted in a previous post, most search committees are well-intentioned, but don’t really know how to navigate through this process. Some even cross the line in the interview process. By asking these kinds of questions, your church runs the risk of facing a lawsuit, or running off a great candidate that could bless and lead your church well.
Here are five types of questions that, believe it or not, are far too common in ministry job interviews even though they are very inappropriate, they have nothing to do with the candidate’s ability to do the job, and could open you up to lawsuits.
How old are you? Ageism is wrong—both morally and legally. But, for some reason, the church thinks it gets a pass on this. Any other work place knows not to discriminate against a potential employee based on their age. I’ve turned down churches because they said they wanted to hire a young guy. My question was, “What’s going to happen when I’m not a young guy? Will I be tossed to the curb?” The truth is, many older worship leaders are. Whether a person is in their early twenties or mid-fifties has nothing to do with their character, skill-level, and God’s calling on their life. Age discrimination is also something that could also potentially open your church up to a lawsuit. Not only can most churches not afford a lawsuit from a financial aspect, they can’t afford one from a PR aspect as well.
Do you plan on having any/anymore children? How many children do you plan on having? I know of people who have been asked if their wives were pregnant. I know of youth pastors being hired because they didn’t have kids to “get in the way” of ministry. I know of people being rejected for a ministry opportunity because they had (in the church’s eyes) too many kids. There are many people who have infertility issues or have had miscarriages. You may have a candidate that has personal convictions about birth control. And you know what? NONE OF THAT IS ANY OF YOUR BUSINESS! It is completely inappropriate to discuss in a job interview and should never be done. But for whatever reason, these are common points of discussion in church job interviews.
Do you plan on sending your children to public/Christian/homeschool? This is another question that is nobody’s business. I’ve been asked this in interviews on more than one occasion. If I knew what I know now, I would’ve responded: “That’s a decision we will make as a family.” One time I was asked such a question, I told the pastor that we were strongly considering homeschooling. The response was, “I think there would only be a few people that would have a problem with that.” I responded: “It doesn’t matter to me what they think. It’s not up to them.” Never ask this kind of question. If the candidate wants to volunteer that information, that is up to them. A church as ZERO say in how the staff member chooses to educate their children.
What about your parents? (Christian or not/denomination/your relationship) This could take on many different forms. They could be asking whether or not they are Christians, what denomination they are, where they go to church, or what the candidate’s relationship with them is like. None of these things has anything to do with whether or not the candidate can faithfully do the job with excellence. I know of someone who was asked to describe their relationship with their parents. This was a loaded question because the previous worship leader was estranged from theirs. This is a completely inappropriate question. What if the candidate has no relationship with their parents because of physical or sexual abuse? That is not your business. They are then faced to either reveal some very personal and hurtful information to some strangers or decline from answering and risk losing the job opportunity. It’s wrong and has not place in a job interview. But questions like these are common, especially for younger candidates.
Uber-personal marital questions. It’s okay to want to get to know the spouse of your candidate. In many ways, ministry jobs are unique. You aren’t only joining a place of employment, but you are joining a faith family. But some questions get asked that are way too personal. Some single men have been asked, “Why aren’t you married yet?” Some wives have been asked, “What will be your duties here in this ministry?” Candidates have even been asked what they and their spouse fight about most. All of those questions…are none of your business. They are inappropriate for a job interview.
These are just some of the frequent, but inappropriate questions that get asked when interviewing Worship Leaders. Though, they are all well-intentioned, church members often don’t realize how inappropriate they are. If you want to know more about the dos and don’ts of the interview process, Vital Worship wants to help you. We offer assistance in crafting a job description, creating a salary package, general coaching for search committees, and more. Each consultation is tailor made to fit your church’s needs.