Wednesday, May 11, 2016

How to Get Hired as a Hospice Chaplain

Through the years I have been involved in interviewing candidates for full time hospice Chaplain positions.  If I were to grade the Candidates they would fall into three categories: Candidate 1 would  receive a C-; Candidate 2 would receive an A+; Candidate 3 would receive an F.  What made the difference? : the resume, the warmth and calm of the candidate, and the candidates communication during the interview.

How do you then make it to the top three candidate status?  Let me share 6 essentials that will hopefully get you an interview and that will at least get you a second look and even make you a finalist and, further, get you hired.

  1.  When you respond to a posting for a Chaplain position, be sure to complete the application in as detailed a manner as possible.  Tell the truth and nothing but the truth.  If you provide a cover letter, let it speak truth to the Recruiter who will pass it on to us as Managers.
  2.  When you send in a resume, the following are absolute MUSTS:

  • Choose a resume format.  Word for Windows has several. Make it look professional.  It is a reflection of you.
  • Be detailed.  Dates and where you worked previously are necessary.
  • Why you left the position is helpful.  We understand if you were to say, “It was not a good fit.”
  • I prefer a list of at least 3 professional references.
  • Since this is hospice chaplaincy, a cover letter that explains your calling to chaplaincy, your experience in chaplaincy, the reason you want to work at a hospice, if you are moving from another venue of chaplaincy to hospice tell us why.  If you cannot clearly state a sense of calling, that may be a red flag.
  • Detail your CPE information.  Where did you get your Units? How many Units did you take?  You would be amazed how many Chaplains do not have that information in their resumes. 

  1.   Should you be selected for a face to face interview, please follow these guidelines:

  • Have an ‘elevator’ speech detailing who you are.  It should take 3 minutes.  When you are asked, “Tell us a little about yourself…”  NEVER reply by asking, “What would you like to know?” That conveys that you either do not know how to interview or that you are unprepared.
  • Convey an aptitude for hospice chaplaincy and a calling to it.  Know what hospice chaplaincy is and share your experiences.  Saying, “Well, I’ve been around a lot of dying people” won’t get you far.  Hospice chaplaincy is so much more than that.
  • When answering questions take a moment to reflect on what you are about to say, then say it.  The way you respond to a difficult question will give us some insight into how you will respond to a difficult situation in a hospice pastoral care scenario.  If your body language conveys you are rushed it will come across as if you are wanting the interview to be over.  Talk with us as if we have known each other for years. 
  • Give real life anecdotes to illustrate your points.  Keep them brief but use them. 
  • Do NOT ever use racial, ethnic, or gender slurs.  That will immediately disqualify you even though the interview may proceed.
  • Smile … appear relaxed.  Again, this will let us know how you will respond in a pastoral care scenario.

  1.  After the interview, send a “Thank you” email.  That will let us know that you have manners and are professional in your business dealings. 
  2.  If you are invited for a second interview, we are looking for even more of a professional manner of response.  We are looking for further clarity on issues.  It could be that there are one or two matters that are unsettled in our minds and we are looking to you for more information.
  3.  And, finally, throughout the process we are looking for someone polished, gracious, professional, and skillful. 

And, if you follow the above, you have a great chance of obtaining a chaplaincy career position.  If you have any questions about resume writing, cover letter writing, or guidance in how to interview, please contact me at


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