We have all been there—or will be some day. You are dry-mouthed, nervously seated before a group of church members you have never met before who have the title of Director/Minister of Christian Education Search Committee. After some conversation, they turn to you and say, “Do you have any questions for us?” And your mind goes blank.
In an effort to help us all, your APCE Advocacy Ministry Team has developed questions for all stages of the Interview process—before meeting with the committee, during the first interview, and things to consider when you are negotiating.
We sincerely hope this will be of help to you. But we also hope that you will add any questions that we forgot to include. May this be the beginning of a conversation.
Before the Interview
- Ask someone else proofread and ask clarifying questions about your resume/PIF.
- Become familiar with denominational compensation guidelines for your denomination. For PC(USA), go to http://www.pcusa.org/resource/suggested-compensation-guidelines-establishing-edu/
For an article on educator salaries: http://www.presbyterianmission.org/wp-content/uploads/february_2001_gac_appendices.pdf
Also check your own Presbytery or middle governing guidelines.
- Do your homework on the church. Check their website. Access ten-year trends at https://www.presbyterianmission.org/ministries/research-services/help-for-congregations/
- Read the position description carefully and be prepared with specific questions.
- Ask for a copy of a recent worship bulletin. How they worship can tell you a lot about a congregation and the staff.
- Consider writing your own statement of faith. This may help as you answer questions about your personal beliefs.
At the Interview
- Is the scope of the position clear? Are hours of employment appropriate for the scope of the description? Who sets priorities for the educator’s use of time and priorities?
- Given the ebb and flow of church-related duties, how is compensation (money or time) handled?
- Is there an option for working from home part of this time? (This may not be of interest to you now, but it could be important another time.)
- What types of safety/background checks are required for staff and for volunteers?
- How does the staff establish and maintain healthy boundaries?
- How are staff members encouraged to practice self-care (physical and spiritual)?
- Will an unordained educator be invited to attend and have voice in session meetings?
- What other meetings or committees will the educator be expected to attend or staff?
- To whom does the educator report? What kind of review process is in place?
- Will the educator be responsible for supervising other employees?
- Is the educator allowed/encouraged to provide service to the greater church (presbytery or judicatory meetings and/or committee service, APCE, camp and conference leadership, etc.)?
- Be ready to tell the committee why this position excites you. Ask them what makes them proud of their church.
- What kind of office space and equipment is provided? (If not planned, ask for a building tour.)
- In what ways does the structure of the job description parallel or differ from other staff, particularly clergy?
Issues that should be addressed during the interview or during final negotiations
- Does the base salary include FICA, annuities or retirement savings plan options?
- What insurance is included? Is it through PC(USA) Board of Pensions or another provider? Is family coverage included? Is any extra cost allotted to the educator for this?
- How much time and money is allotted for continuing education? Can this carry over? Is there an approval process for specific events and dates?
- What business expenses are reimbursed? Mileage? Cell phone? Meals with volunteers? Will a church credit card be provided?
- What is the policy regarding family leave and personal sick time?
- What is the amount of vacation time? Study leave? Who approves these times?
- How does the above compare to other staff members, including clergy?
- With contract, tax forms should be completed.
- Will there be an Educator Relations Committee (an ongoing reference group of prayer and support for the Educator)?
- How does the educator have access to the Personnel Committee?
- Is there an employee handbook?
- Is there a separation package?
- Is a sabbatical available to the educator?
- How will changing job description elements be addressed?
What questions would you add? Email the Advocacy Team at firstname.lastname@example.org with your ideas.