Interviewing with a Religiously Affiliated Institution

The US Department of Education has reported that nearly 1.5 million students enroll at one of the United State's 900 religiously affiliated institutions each year (2011). The majority of religiously affiliated institutions are liberal arts colleges with the exception of a few research institutions. The mission statements of these institutions often focus on teaching and learning objectives emphasizing ethics, morals, and spirituality. Below are some topics to consider before interviewing with a faith-based institution.

Define Your Views of Faith-Based Education

If you are considering a position at a religiously affiliated institution it is important to define your own views of faith-based education. Within the 900 faith-based institutions, the degree of religious affiliation varies. Some faith-based institutions adhere to a strict religious order encouraging students to develop both academically and spiritually, while at other institutions religious affiliation goes undetected. Defining your own views will prepare you to choose an institution that has views and beliefs similar to your own.

Research the School's History and Mission

Just as you would do for any other interview, it is important to research the institution's history, mission, and culture. The initial job posting may list requirements for denominational affiliation, but it may not have all the information you need to determine if the institution is a good fit for you. Many faith-based institutions will have information on their website about which religion the school is affiliated with, the mission and vision, and the institution's faith statement. 

Define Your Teaching Style and Pedagogy

As mentioned previously, many faith-based institutions are liberal arts colleges meaning teaching is the main focus rather than researching. A large portion of the interview will most likely be centered around your teaching style, pedagogy, and experience. You may also be asked questions regarding how you would incorporate religious beliefs, ethics or morals into student learning objectives; however, some religious institutions do not require professors to incorporate faith in the classroom.

Be Prepared to Answer Questions About Your Faith

Faith-based institutions are exempt from the federal laws that EEOC enforces when it comes to the employment of individuals based on their particular religion (U.S. EEOC). You should be prepared to answer questions about church involvement, volunteer work, and the religion in which you were raised. You also may be asked to write a personal faith statement or a testimony. Some institutions require 50% of faculty members to be associated with the institution's religion; however, this does not mean you will not be hired if your religious affiliation differs from that of the institution.