Creating a transformative school environment starts with the admissions process! We want to provide you with some keys on how to discover whether or not an applicant is ready to be immersed in your school’s environment. To help you with this aspect of the admissions process, we asked Melissa Casey, a BSSM Revival Group Pastor, to share some of her experience interviewing applicants for our 2nd Year program.
We asked Melissa, “How do you get to know applicants during an interview? How do you determine if their level of spiritual and emotional maturity is suited for our school’s environment?” She shared powerful wisdom on how leaders can posture their hearts towards applicants when confronting areas of growth in their lives, and how to equip them with an action plan to experience freedom. Her responses are included intermittently throughout this post.
Here are three keys to conducting admissions interviews. We pray God would show you how your admissions interviews can reveal the hearts of applicants, drawing in the ones that are ready to join your school!
1. Invite Authenticity
While interviewing applicants, it’s important to invite them to be authentic and share who they truly are. We encourage you to create a place of safety for them to freely share and convey value for their responses to your questions. By inviting authenticity, you will be able to truly see an applicant’s character, spiritual and emotional maturity, sense of responsibility, areas of growth, and more. Again, this will allow you to assess if an applicant is ready to join your school in pursuit of revival. Here are some specific ways you can encourage applicants to fully be themselves during an interview:
- Create a safe environment for interviewees. While conducting interviews, make sure you are fully present by turning off your phone, proving ample time in your schedule to hear responses, maintaining eye contact, etc. If you are doing in-person interviews, we encourage you to find a private space to conduct interviews so that applicants feel safe to freely share about themselves, even current areas of struggle.
- Demonstrate and communicate value for authenticity. Before starting an interview, tell the applicant about yourself, your role, your passion for what you do, or what the Holy Spirit leads you to share in order to reveal your authentic self. This allows an applicant to get to know you better, develop trust, and experience you genuinely. Also, communicate to the applicant your value for authenticity. For example, Melissa often starts interviews by telling an applicant, “You’ve already answered application questions technically, so I don’t want information. I want you. So I’m going to ask some similar questions, but I want you to come out. I don’t want information. I want to get to know you.”
2. Get to the Heart of the Matter
As you and your team meet with applicants, we encourage you to ask direct questions that will reveal their hearts’ desires and needs. Furthermore, use interviews to set them up to be successful in your school environment. For instance, when you discover an area of growth for an applicant, you can partner with the Holy Spirit to reveal steps towards breakthrough for him/her, even before school begins. During interviews, you can also get a sense of who on your leadership team carries specific anointing, gifts, and strengths to support that individual’s journey in your school.
When you encounter areas of growth in applicants’ lives, we encourage you to consider if your school’s structure and environment will provide what they need to experience support and breakthrough. Furthermore, it’s important to consider if applicants need to take steps into greater levels of freedom before being invited to attend your school. At BSSM, we cultivate an environment full of freedom that demands a high level of self-control. We have discovered that individuals cannot receive the full benefit of our school if they consistently struggle with a lack of self-control that leads to unhealthy cycles. However, there are times when we admit students that demonstrate a desire and commitment to pursue freedom and invite them to experience breakthrough before they come to school.
For example, sometimes we interview an applicant who is working through issues of sexual purity. In this situation, we take time to discover more about why the applicant is dealing with this issue. We believe it’s important to not disqualify an individual based upon his/her current struggle. Instead, we seek to use discernment and ask Holy Spirit-inspired questions to discover what’s going on inside the applicant’s heart and if he/she is willing to walk through a process of transformation.
Melissa shared that when she meets with BSSM applicants, she is looking to see if our school is the right fit for an individual based upon his/her willingness to grow and invite trusted mentors and friends into the process. She does not expect students to be flawless or fully demonstrate our core values when she meets them. However, she looks for ones that are willing to come under leadership covering to grow and change their lifestyles.
To get to the real heart issues an applicant is experiencing, Melissa is direct with her questions, but she does it with love and faith that God desires and is able to bring complete freedom to the individual. During our meeting with Melissa, she shared more about what she communicates when addressing an applicant’s current struggle during an admissions interview:
When someone has a character issue, I am very direct in asking how long they have been struggling [with the issue] and who is in their life to provide accountability. We [BSSM staff] are very direct and this is why: we expect freedom. Most people with character issues, if they are believers, want to be free. Most people just don’t know how to be free. So the character issue itself is not that threatening…Messing up is far less scary to me than secrecy, than hiddenness, than withholding. That is ten times harder to work with than purity issues.
When we run into purity issues, like someone’s had addiction to porn for years, it probably means it started when they were young. I have a lot of compassion that they struggled with this the whole time. So when I bring it up, I am expecting freedom and I am expecting some hard work [from the individual]. During an interview, I will set them up to feel safe by saying, ‘I am going to be pretty direct with you. You’re recommendation said something to me about purity [issues]. Talk to me about that.’
I am not afraid of sin because Jesus heals people and washes them clean. An attitude of being independent… that [is what] I am afraid to work with. I also set huge expectations. For freedom’s sake, Christ set us free. So we expect freedom [in individuals’ lives].”
3. Create an Action Plan
When you encounter applicants who need breakthrough in areas before attending your school, we encourage you to create an action plan to help them encounter freedom (note: make sure to only offer this to applicants who demonstrate a strong willingness to be transparent and accountable for their actions). Also, it’s crucial that you provide applicants with goals to fulfill before they are invited to attend your school. Here are some ideas of how you can develop a structure of accountability and steps that applicants can take to experience wholeness:
- Create a timeline and require communication. Provide a timeline to applicants with set goals so that they can pursue growth before the start of the school year. It’s also wise to require them to check-in with their interviewer to communicate what growth or struggle they are experiencing. For example, at BSSM, we sometimes offer a conditional acceptance to an applicant with a 30 to 60-day probation period to determine if he/she will benefit by being in our school. In this case, the applicant is required to email the interviewer a biweekly update. This allows the interviewer to continue to support the applicant along the journey and determine if he/she is ready to attend BSSM.
- Encourage applicants to pursue other forms of accountability and counsel. To help applicants learn how to invite greater levels of community into their journey, encourage them to find support groups or counseling that can bring them greater levels of healing and encouragement. At BSSM, we sometimes recommend that students pursue inner healing through our Transformation Center or through other trusted churches/ministries before coming to school.
- Expect freedom. While creating an action plan for applicants, communicate an expectation that they will be walking in freedom before the school year starts. This encourages applicants to partner with faith and receive the fullness of life God has for them. In fact, Melissa will often convey the following to applicants: “We are going to start a freedom journey by having you take these steps. I am going to go after areas where you feel bound, where you don’t trust yourself, so that [you have breakthrough] before you go to school.”
As you conduct admissions interviews, remember that God is willing and able to bring freedom to any individual you encounter! We encourage you to constantly live with the expectation that an applicant can overcome any and all areas of struggle through the power of Jesus Christ. With this heart posture, you and your leadership team will setup your applicants for success as they follow God’s leadership and pursue revival in their lives.
To find out more information about BSSM’s admissions process, check out the Administrator’s Manual.