12 Interview Tips for Youth Pastors


This is it! You’ve been working with a youth-ministry goal in mind, and you’re about ready to go in for your first interview—but how do you prepare?!

Don’t freak out. We’ve got you covered with 12 tips that will help you nail that interview.

1. Do your research

The church is not just looking for a rock star youth pastor. They’re looking for someone that can be an asset to their team. Their main concerns are finding a candidate who will fit with their culture and fulfill their mission and vision.

If you’re able to convince them that you’re that person, the job’s yours. Adversely, if you go in knowing nothing about them and simply talk about yourself, you’re likely going to miss out on this opportunity.

So make sure you:

  1. Scour the church website paying particular attention to their goals and mission.
  2. If possible, visit the church on a Sunday morning.
  3. Read up on the senior leadership. Check out their social media feeds.
  4. Discover what you can about the church’s history.
  5. Read this list of interview questions for youth pastor candidates, and prepare for each one.

2. Don’t overdo spiritual talk

While you definitely want to confirm your calling and show that you have a legitimate relationship with Christ, you don’t want to come in with your spiritual guns blazing.

They’re trying to get to know you, and stacking the conversation with too much spiritually charged language actually makes their job harder. It might feel like it helps you, but your interviewer will feel like they didn’t get to know you—and you might even come across as flaky.

3. Get your testimony under 2 minutes

It’s likely that the interviewer will want to hear how you came to know Jesus, so be prepared. If you’re not prepared, you’re probably going to ramble. You don’t want to do that. Practice your testimony until it’s a tight two minutes.

4. Turn your ringer off

Having your phone ring or alert you to notifications during an interview probably won’t ruin everything, but it’s definitely not going help. Nothing’s more awkward than that moment when you have to apologize and sheepishly remove your phone from your pocket in order to mute it.

It’s best to do it ahead of time.

5. Communicate your understanding of youth issues

You know that youth work isn’t all about pizza parties and shut ins. It’s about helping kids negotiate their way through the cultural minefield. Be prepared to communicate the major issues facing teens today.

The key here is not to simply focus on the obvious national issues that anyone could come up with off the top of their head, but to be able to also articulate local needs and concerns.

6. Have a plan to grow the youth group

Remember, you’re not simply selling your experiences and successes. You’re working to convince your interviewer that you’re the best candidate for the job. By coming in prepared with a plan to grow their youth group, you’re:

  • Communicating your preparedness and attention to detail
  • Addressing a specific concern for the church
  • Demonstrating that you understand how to grow your group

7. Be honest about your goals

There’s a strong pull to share the things you think your interviewer wants to hear. That means that you might be tempted to hedge on certain questions. For instance, if they ask you what your five-year goals are, you might be worried about telling them that you plan to be pastoring your own church by then.

It’s in everybody’s best interest to be honest. If you’re thinking about taking a youth working job as a stop-gap measure, the church deserves to factor that into their decision. And your honesty might even open up job opportunities in this church that you weren’t aware of.

8. Demonstrate that you understand the big picture

I know that you’re interviewing for a youth worker position, but you can’t allow yourself to be that myopic. The church is a community and by ministering to individuals, you serve the church. Be able to show that you can see the bigger picture.

You may be working closely with the youth, but you’re actually ministering to families—and, ultimately, the church. Your ministry isn’t happening in a vacuum, and they’re going to breathe a sigh of relief when they discover that you get it.

9. Be prepared to share your successes

This one can be really difficult. If this is your first interview for a youth position, you might not feel like you have enough wins to really sell yourself. Prepare by thinking about all of your accomplishments and academic, church, or work acknowledgements.

Try and come up with five successes that you can share, and make sure that you can communicate how they apply to this position or demonstrate that you’re the right candidate for the job. Make sure to prioritize those those accomplishments from most important to least. If the conversation veers away from this topic, you don’t want to have started with your weakest material.

10. Have a list of influencers

You can almost count on being asked about theologians, authors, and bloggers that have influenced you. If you’re not prepared for this question, your brain will go into panic mode and just give you white noise. Then, no matter how well read you are, you’ll end up giving the most obvious names.

Think through this question so that you can answer well. You don’t want to simply pull from the first A-list Christian celebrities that come to mind. They want to know that you’re thoughtful, and pulling out obvious choices is going to convince them otherwise.

11. Be able to articulate your call to ministry

Ministry isn’t just a job—it’s a calling. Be prepared to cogently (and briefly) explain when and how you knew that God had called you into ministry, and who helped to confirm that calling.

12. When asked about your weaknesses, be honest

If I ask a candidate what their weaknesses are, I’m not looking for a reason to disqualify them. I want to know how honest they are and, more importantly, how introspective and self-aware. It’s a huge strike against them when they give me answers like:

  • I love too much
  • I work too hard
  • I’m too focused on my spiritual life

Be honest about your struggles. If it helps, be able to communicate the strengths that those weaknesses represent—and the steps you take to mitigate those problems.

Nailing an interview is a skill

When you’re prepared, you feel confident. When you feel confident, you help create an environment where everyone is comfortable and affable. Remember the most important element of any interview is the prep that goes into it. If you’re adequately prepared, the interview should be a breeze.

Good luck!

Jayson D. Bradley
For the last 20+ years, Jayson's been a pastor, worship leader, and church planter. Now he writes about ministry and Christian engagement. When he isn't hanging out here or writing for Overthink Group, you can find him contributing to JaysonDBradley.com.

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