Clergy Experience of Appointments

Interviews for clergy appointments often last for less than one hour, end up as one-way questioning, lack clarity, and assume a rather secular air, according to a survey recently released by 3D Coaching, which provides coaching and organizational development services to the charity sector, including churches. 

The research was undertaken during the summer of 2011 among clergy of all denominations who had been interviewed for the role of minister, mostly in a local church, during the last three years. There were 139 respondents, of whom 131 were from the Church of England. The sample recruitment method is unknown.

Key statistical findings include the following:  

  • 51% of interviews lasted under one hour, 37% between one and two hours, and 12% longer than two hours 
  • 54% of applicants described the interview as a two-way dialogue, but for 46% it felt more like one-way questioning 
  • 18% did not consider the line of questioning to be clear, while for 57% it was clear and for 25% very clear 
  • 62% recalled that the interview mostly concentrated on their competencies, against 7% who said that it mainly explored their ministerial calling, and 20% the ‘chemistry’ which would have made for a successful ‘marriage’ with the post 
  • In the light of hindsight, only 9% considered that the person and parish/church profile for the role had fully mirrored reality, most (55%) thinking it was at best a 75% reflection of the truth; on the other hand, 13% regarded it as a 25% match or less

Notwithstanding these deficiencies in the selection process, 79% of clergy applicants believed that the interviewers had met the real ‘them’ and 91% that the right person had been appointed eventually, even though only 71% of them were actually successful.

A 24-page report on the survey, containing extensive qualitative data as well as the numbers, is freely available at:

British Religion in Numbers: All the material published on this website is subject to copyright. We explain further here.

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