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Interview Questions to Identify Potential Predators

November 6th 2019

When parents drop off their children at a church’s children’s ministry, they are trusting that the church has done due diligence to provide a safe and protective environment. One specific area parents trust that churches focus on is eliminating the threat of potential predators working or surrounding the children’s ministry. 

As a church, it is your responsibility to eliminate this threat to ensure the safety of every child. Interviewing each potential candidate who desires to work in your children’s ministry, whether they volunteer or are paid, is a great place to start. 

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Here are a few tips, along with key interview questions to identify potential predators. 

Background Checks and Interviews

Before you let just anyone volunteer to help your children’s ministry, it is important to ensure these individuals are safe and able to handle children. Screening and training your volunteers should have many layers that help protect not only your church but the children in your ministry. 

The first layer of screening should be your application process. Here is your opportunity to ask questions that will assist in eliminating any identified predator or unwelcome volunteer. Use this information to complete the next layer which will include a background check. Background checks should be completed at least once a year to ensure your volunteers are on the up and up and continually capable of handling children. We recommend background checks by Protect My Ministry. This is a quick and easy tool for churches to access background information on any potential volunteer.

After a background check is conducted, set up an interview to discuss the application. This is your opportunity to ensure all information on the application is accurate. Here are the top must-ask interview questions:

  1. Why do you want to work in the children’s ministry?
  2. Have you ever worked with children before? Tell me about each of those times.
  3. Have you ever been let go or ask to leave a volunteer position?
  4. Describe to me a difficult situation you faced when working with children and how you handled it.
  5. Tell me about three strengths and three weaknesses.
  6. Are you comfortable with constant monitoring and regular background checks by the church’s leadership while you serve in our ministry?
  7. Have you ever received professional counseling and are you willing to discuss it?
  8. What are your beliefs on corporate discipline?
  9. What was the relationship like among your family members growing up? Specifically between you and your parents?
  10. How do you feel about having at least two co-teachers in a room with children alongside you?

Here’s how one of the largest churches in Oklahoma implements safety layers for their screening process:

We rephrase some of our application questions to see if there is consistency between what someone wrote down one day and when they meet with us the next. Someone could say they are flexible on paper, but then say they don’t want to be monitored by anyone because they have their own way of doing things in a classroom. This is a major red flag because not only are they showing they are not flexible, they are not allowing the church to maintain the safety of the children through constant monitoring.

Please note these questions are not fool-proof. They are simply vital questions to ask each and every volunteer and paid staff member to ensure you are receiving consistent answers with their application and background check. Don’t neglect to interview church staff just because they are staff.

The way individuals answer these questions is extremely vital to maintain a child’s safety in your ministry. Potential predators often look safe. Often people want identified predators to stand out like a sore thumb, but unfortunately, that’s not how it works. This is why it’s important to do your due diligence through background checks, interviews, and the application process to further the safety of your children’s ministry.

Next Steps

The more informed your church is on child safety techniques, the better you’ll be able to protect each child. Identifying predators just one step to ensure safety among the children in your ministry. We recommend you require staff and volunteers to complete online coursework to become aversed in identifying child abuse and the behavior of predators. New call-to-action will help your volunteers and staff to identify signs of abuse and know how to report it.

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