Pastoral Interviews: Why Use Video?

In my last post I discussed the value of technology for a pastor search committee. This week I want to touch on one specific part of the search process, the interview, and discuss how technology can be a useful tool.

In our final debriefing session after our search was over, everyone on the committee agreed that the video interview was essential to getting to know the candidates. We couldn’t imagine doing it without video. It allowed us to see a candidate’s personality in a way that a phone interview just couldn’t.

The post-interview debrief usually went quickly if we knew the candidate wouldn’t be moving forward. But if the interview went well, our follow-up conversation could take as long as the interview itself! We reviewed what was said, how it was said, tone of voice, body language – everything was open for discussion. What were the strongest points? Where did he seem less confident in his answers? Did he communicate clearly? Could he think on his feet? Did he pause to gather his thoughts before speaking? What did his body language indicate? These and dozens of other questions were part of our post-interview debrief.The video interview also gave us an idea of the candidate’s professionalism and attitude. For example:  Was he dressed appropriately for a job interview? Some of our candidates dressed in business casual attire, others in a coat and tie. We had one candidate interview in a polo shirt and shorts while breaking away from a party at a friend’s house. He snuck off to a quiet bedroom and sat on the bed for his interview. Now I’ll be the first to say that one’s attire isn’t the ultimate expression of one’s pastoral qualifications. But – at least in an interview situation – it does reflect a person’s approach to the interview. How seriously are they taking this interview? If our interview had just been by phone, we would have never known how he was dressed. I’ll add that there were a number of other elements in that interview that raised red flags for us; his shorts and polo shirt were not the biggest issues.

Video can also show us if a candidate is distracted by his surroundings or if he is fully engaged with us in the interview.

Video can expose a candidate’s priorities, whether he’s genuinely interested in moving to your town and leading your church, or if he’s just going through the motions.

Research has shown that visuals impact a person’s ability to recall; they help viewers pay attention by being more engaging than text or audio alone. Video helps the committee remember a candidate better. After digging through pages and pages of resumes and MDFs, after hearing dozens of sermons, it’s easy for them to all become a blur. But with video, you have a visual recollection of the room he was in, his clothing, whether he was sitting or standing, if he looked tired or well rested, etc. All these things help solidify each candidate in your mind.

This article, although written with the candidate in mind, has several good tips a search committee can use when preparing for a video interview.

As mentioned in an earlier post, a couple of our candidates were local and we met with them in person. Video provides many of the same benefits as an in-person interview, but of course, a face-to-face interview is best. My recommendation – for any candidates who aren’t able to join you in person – is to use the technology we have available, whether it’s Google Hangouts, Skype, FaceTime, or Zoom.

UPDATE: In mid-2017, Google split its Hangouts tool into two separate apps: "Hangouts Chat," to compete with Slack, and "Hangouts Meet" for video and audio communications. This change was meant to  simplify Google's confusing message of multiple communication tools. Unfortunately, it's just made things worse, in my opinion.

It appears that Google has turned its back on everyday consumers when it comes to Hangouts. They have decided that "Hangouts in the future would be developed for business users with a focus on group collaboration and enterprise productivity" (source). Apparently you need to have a G-Suite account (intended for business and enterprise teams) to use the new Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat tools. It’s unclear to me if Google still has (or ever plans to have) video chat for consumers.

Now you know my opinion; what are your thoughts? What do you see as the benefits (or disadvantages) of using video for pastoral search interviews? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *