Are you thinking about a new call this
New Year? 2008 was a year of interviewing for me as I searched for my new call. Part of the process, of course, involved the
dreaded telephone interview. These phone interviews can be very intimidating
and uncomfortable, but I have found that there are ways to feel more
comfortable and confident in a phone interview- and it all comes down
to preparation. Perhaps these tips may be helpful to you.
Your Own Personal Information Form
I would take a good hard look at my
information form and ask myself some questions. From the information
I have provided, what are some questions that will likely arise?
Is there anything on my form that I want to be sure to explain further
to the search committee? Are there any theological topics or issues
that make me nervous to talk about “off the cuff?”
Because I am prone to either moments
of aphasia or rambling when I am nervous, I would take each of these
questions and topics and write them on index cards with some notes that
would help me to speak clearly and without rambling as I was speaking
about these things.
A few of the topics and questions that
were on my cards were:
- Why did you change denominations
when you became an adult?
- Do you believe Jesus is
the “only way?”
- What is your view on GLBT
Of course, there was no way for me
to prepare for every conceivable question that might come up, but these
cards helped me more than once when I experienced a "brain fart" during the course of an interview.
Make a List of Questions for the
It was important for me to remember
that this was a process of mutual discernment and that I was interviewing
this committee as much as they were interviewing me. They should
give you an opportunity to ask some questions. I had a list of
questions that I asked every search committee, based upon what I am
passionate about in ministry. Because mission and ministry with
children and youth are central to my sense of call, a few questions
I always asked were:
- What is your “calling
card” to your community? What are you known for in your town?
- How are children and youth
involved in your congregation’s ministry? Are children present
and included in worship?
I would also make a list of questions
that came up from reading the church’s information form. For
- What does it mean for you
to say you are a “welcoming congregation?”
- Can you tell me more about
why you have had three different CE directors in the last three years?
Prepare Your Interview Space
Take some time to prepare the room
where you will be having your phone conversation. For me, that
meant, first of all, to make sure that my spouse had the kidlets entertained
and contained in another part of the house, or better yet, out of the
house all together- just not jumping on my head while I’m trying to
be impressive in an interview!
Also, it was important for me that
the room was tidy. Otherwise, I just couldn’t focus. I would
be stewing about why my husband left his socks on the floor rather than
paying attention to the interview. I usually spoke with search
committees in my bedroom where I liked to sit on my (made) bed surrounded
by my laptop with the church’s information form pulled up, a copy
of my information form, my index cards, and my list of questions.
Although I’m particular about my
surroundings during phone interviews, I never much worried about how
I looked. I actually did interviews in my jammies once or twice
because being comfortable was key for me. However, if it putting
on a little make-up and wearing more professional clothes would help
you to feel more confident and put you in the right mindset, then that
is what you should do.
Prepare your Heart and Mind
In the minutes before I was expecting
the phone to ring, I would take some deep breaths and pray- both for
myself and the search committee. I always needed to remind myself
that God was present in all of this.
I am pleased to report that my time
of searching has completed, as I begin a new call on January 1.
Interestingly enough, I didn’t have to do a phone interview for this
call because I already lived in the city where the church is located!
Blessings for 2009, my sisters, whether
the Spirit is nudging you to seek a new call or making your roots grow
deeper where you are.