- Try to make it as much like the actual interview as possible:
- Have a lectern with a small table in front of it. A cloth to cover the table might be nice. The setting should be inviting and pleasant.
- On the table have some flowers and a chalice to light. There should be a filled water-glass too.
- Arrange the chairs in a semi-circle in front of the table, except for one chair next to the table for the candidate. Make sure there is a clear line of sight between all the panelists and the candidate.
- When you assemble people, make sure there are ministers or religious educators, if possible. Try for as much balance as you can in age, gender etc.
Try also to balance those who know you already and those who do not. A few people you have never met before can be invaluable for feedback. It can be helpful , if it is possible, to include newer ministers who have recently seen the MFC.
- Preach a 10 minute sermon. No more, no less. At a "mock" it would be good to ask specifically for feedback on your sermon, both as to content and style, since such feedback comes rarely during the actual MFC interview.
- Make sure that members of the group you have assembled have at least partial access to pieces of your packet in advance so they can ask questions from that perspective. It's important to know yourself and your growing edges and to be addressing them. It's less important that you've fixed all your problems than that you recognize them and are dealing with them. Suggesting that mock panel members ask you about those areas is recommended.
- Let the panelists ask questions on all competencies. (For examples, check the list of sample questions on the UUA ministry website.) Give them time before the interview to divvy up those questions. Have one person selected to bring you in and have the first questioner introduce you to the panel. If you do not know the answer, it is OK to ask what answer they were looking for, but only when the interview is over. This may help you to understand the difference between losing an answer due to stress, and not giving an answer because you really didn't know it.
- The whole session should not be more than about 50 minutes long, if possible. Have a time keeper, a chalice lighter, someone to keep a water glass full. Remember to pause for at least 30 seconds in the middle of the interview. You can use a chime to begin the silence if you wish.
- When the interview is over, the panel will ask you to leave the room. Encourage the panel take some time to discuss what sort of feedback they want to give you. When they call you back, go back into the room and listen carefully to what they have said to you. Ask questions about how you came across, if you showed visible nervousness, etc. Let them know what feelings you felt as they asked the questions, so that you get a clear sense of your presence during such an interview.
- At the end, ask the panelists if there are other questions they would have asked had they time. There is no reason the panel has to offer you a numerical category during a 'mock,' but clear and specific feedback is very important.
—Ministerial Fellowship Committee, March 2003