The Interview

Posted on: Tuesday January 15, 2013

General Guidelines

It is extremely important that the members of the search committee are on the same page when it comes to interviewing candidates.

Warm Welcome
First impressions count. Introduce yourselves and identify your position in your synagogue or organization. Closure matters, too. Think about how you will end this intense interview experience.

Be on Time
There is an hour allotted for each interview. Each candidate has several interviews and they are anxious to be on time for the next appointment. Being prompt creates a positive image for your community.

Manage Your Time Well
Your candidate will begin with a short d’var torah. Take 45 minutes for your conversation and leave time at the end so that you can debrief the interview and prepare for the next candidate. Our experience is that the day is very filled, so pace yourselves. Remember there is a hospitality suite in Room S-610 with a constant supply of coffee, water, and healthy snacks.

Know Your Key Questions
Before you come, have a sense of the most important characteristics that your rabbi should have. Ask questions to help you gain insight as to whether the candidate has these characteristics. Anthony Robbins said: “Successful people ask better questions and as a result get better answers.”

Let the Candidate Answer
Understand that a 50 minute interview goes by extremely quickly. Allow time for a three to five minute answer from the candidates for every question. Please think about this when you order your questions for the candidates. Your questions should be in writing. Be mindful of switching. Switching is when the interviewer switches the conversation quickly or asks another question without considering the last answer or even before it is complete, through an interjection. 

Be Honest
Be prepared to talk about your congregation’s past, present, and future. Being open and honest about your congregation is the best way to see if the candidate would be a good fit for your congregation. These interviews are all about finding candidates that are a good fit for your congregation, and not whether or not a candidate is good or bad.

Public Relations Event
Even though this is a job interview, all of the candidates know each other and are talking about the congregations and organizations in attendance. Treat the candidate that you are rejecting with respect, so although their experience may not result in a follow up phone call but still leaves a good impression among the student community.

The Best Fit
Remember you are at looking for an appropriate candidate for your particular situation. Don’t put the candidate in a category or give them a label from externals. Our rabbinic community is diverse and reflects the diversity in our congregational population. 

Two-way Street
The best interviews are good conversations because there is a felt time pressure. Search committees may feel the need to ask “just one more question;” the search committee may have a greater advantage by responding a candidate’s questions instead.

Parting Gift
Candidates in the past report the positive impression when they left an interview with something in their hands, like a congregational brochure, a CD of a concert, or information about the community at large.