As part of my student leadership team application process, I interview every teen who applies to be part of our team. This part of the application process is not only valuable, but necessary. To that end, here are 8 reasons why you should include a face-to-face interview as part of your student leadership team application process.

  1. In-person interviews help establish a deeper relationship between you and your student leaders. Although you’ll likely know the teens who apply to be on your leadership team, sitting down with them one-on-one communicates value. It says you value the person as well as their ideas and that you want a relationship with them, something that allows you to build relational capital with your student leaders. It also allows you to ask clarifying questions about any part of their application that doesn’t make sense. That, in turn, enables you to better know and understand each person’s unique faith journey.
  2. In-person interviews give teens the opportunity to articulate their faith. So often, teens are not used to doing this. Interviewing them forces them to not only think about their faith, but express what they believe and why, something that’s critically important in their faith formation.
  3. In-person interviews allow you to reiterate expectations with potential team members. While it’s important to include both your team covenant and a letter explaining what your student leadership team is with your application, meeting face-to-face with potential team members gives you another forum for clarifying expectations. Doing so often prevents future conflicts.
  4. In-person interviews allow you to customize the application process for each teen. Since the teens who apply to be on your leadership team will have already been in your ministry for a while, you will have had the opportunity to observe them in multiple settings. Having done so, you can use your in-person interview to deal head-on with issues that might become problematic later on. For example: If a student hasn’t been around much, you can talk extensively during your interview about the importance of commitment and presence (as well as attendance expectations) to ensure that won’t continue to be an issue. If you then choose to put that teen on the team and there is a problem, it’ll be much easier to address it outright because you’ll have a conversation to draw upon and say, “Remember when we talked about X at your interview?” In essence, while written applications allow you to spot red flags; In-person interviews actually allow you to address them.
  5. Not all teens are gifted writers. So while it’s good to value the written application, recognize that it won’t allow all teens to shine. Taking the time to interview every applicant gives everyone a fair shot at being on the team. You may have an outstanding interview with someone who’s written application was a bit lackluster.
  6. Interviewing teens turns the application process into a conversation. As we’ve already discussed, leadership is really about discipleship. Good discipleship happens in the context of conversations. Interviewing teens turns a one-way application process into such a conversation, allowing potential applicants to learn about you even as you learn about them; To ask you questions about the team, even as you ask them questions.
  7. In-person interviews give teens real-life skills. Every teen will, at some point, have to be interviewed for something. Including in-person interviews as part of your leadership team application process gives teens real-life experience at interviewing. By forcing them to answer your questions, make eye-contact with you, and give specific examples from their lives, you’re preparing them for their first job interview.
  8. In-person interviews allow you to see change and growth. By interviewing teens each year they apply to be part of your team, you see how they change from one year to the next. It’s incredibly rewarding to watch awkward, shy sophomores become gifted, godly leaders as seniors.

Other posts in this series:

Student Leadership Team Basics: How many leaders should you have? 

Student Leadership Team Basics: 3 Ways Not to Describe Student Leadership 

Student Leadership Team Basics: Why?

Student Leadership Team Basics: How to Choose Student Leaders

Student Leadership Team Basics: 6 things to look for in student for in student leaders 

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