From The Encyclopedia of Mormonism
Author: Farmer, Larry C.
Church leaders conduct a variety of interviews essential to the administration of the Church and the nurturance of members. Interviews of Church members are conducted to determine personal worthiness, approve participation in religious ceremonies and ordinances, assess needs, issue calls to service, listen to members' concerns, receive an accounting of performance in a Church assignment, and record a member's status regarding the payment of tithing.
Worthiness is required of those who are to serve in Church callings, represent the Church as missionaries, and attend the temple (see Temple Recommend). An interview is used in each of these situations to determine the member's willingness to serve and worthiness to participate. For example, when a person prepares for baptism or an engaged couple seek permission to be married by priesthood authority in the temple, they first answer questions of a Church leader (usually a bishop or stake president) in a confidential worthiness interview regarding their honesty, integrity, moral cleanliness, and overall obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Church leaders are expected to seek inspiration as they determine worthiness, extend callings, and give counsel to members who are having difficulties. Members may seek an interview for counsel regarding matters of personal anguish, spiritual concerns, moral transgression, marital disharmony, financial Welfare, and family functioning. They may come feeling anxious and bearing burdens of guilt. Although Church leaders are not given specific training in the techniques of interviewing, they are encouraged to be supportive and nonthreatening and to create an atmosphere in which the Spirit of the Lord can be present to provide guidance, comfort, and discernment. N. Eldon Tanner, counselor in the First Presidency of the Church, offered the following advice to Church interviewers: "It is important that those we interview realize that they are spirit children of God and that we love them and are interested in their Welfare and in helping them succeed in life" (p. 41).
Interviews are also used to issue callings and report service rendered. For example, most adult men and women accept calls to visit specific members of the congregation monthly (see Home Teaching; Visiting Teaching) and then discuss these visits in an interview with their supervisor. Members in any calling report on their performance and provide their supervisors with nonconfidential information concerning those they are called to serve (see Stewardship). They report any confidential matters directly to the bishop.
Interviews are regularly scheduled to maintain lines of communication between Church leaders and members. Bishops and their counselors are asked to interview youth twelve to eighteen years of age frequently to encourage obedience to the gospel, the development of talents, the pursuit of education, and preparation for service in the Church and community. These interviews should support family goals and commitments and supplement parental guidance (which often includes appropriate father's and mother's interviews and counsel with their children).
Successful interviews invite unity and build faith. Leaders who conduct worthiness interviews are to remember that they are "representatives of the Lord and [therefore they] must conduct the interviews as the Lord himself would conduct them" (Tanner, p. 42).
Dyer, Alvin R. "How Oral Evaluation Can Help Home Teachers Keep Close to the Families They Visit." IE 72 (Dec. 1969):18-19.
Tanner, N. Eldon. "The Blessing of Church Interviews." Ensign 8 (Nov. 1978):41-42.
LARRY C. FARMER