I am the Relief Society Secretary in our ward, I have been asked to put some questions together for interviews and I am not sure what to ask. In all my years as a visiting teacher I do not recall having an interview; are there general questions?
Interviews with individual visiting teachers are a wonderful way for a presidency to determine, beyond numbers, how well visiting teaching assignments are working, to teach principles of visiting teaching, and to express their love of each sister and their testimony of visiting teaching. I am grateful for interviews. I think we sometimes assume, based on statistics, that the sisters are taking good care of one other, and don’t stop to examine the service being provided. Statistics are an indicator, but never tell the full story of how a stewardship is being fulfilled.
In choosing questions, determine what your presidency wants to learn about visiting teaching in your ward. Carefully chosen questions can help you explore any special concerns. Every ward and situation is different, and these questions are only suggestions.
1. Tell me which sisters you visit. — Some sisters will not be able to name those she is assigned to visit, while others will be working from an outdated list. This is your opportunity to identify and correct any misunderstandings.
2. Who is your supervisor? Do you call her to report your stewardship? — Every visiting teacher has the responsibility and obligation to ‘return and report’ her stewardship. Encourage each sister that her visiting teaching is not complete until it is reported. Help her understand that reports must be accurate for the benefit of the Bishop and Stake leaders. Remind her to report confidential concerns directly to the Relief Society president or Bishop.
3. Who is your companion? Do you make visits with her? Do you discuss needs, adapt the Ensign message, and pray for each sister, both individually and together as a companionship? — As detailed in previous articles, companionships are an essential component of visiting teaching, and it is best that sisters not make visits alone. Prayer together as a companionship is an opportunity to receive inspiration as to the best way to serve each sister. One purpose of visiting teaching is to bring sisters closer to Christ, and adapting the message is important to meeting individual needs.
4. Do you visit during the day or evening? Which is your preference? Are scheduling conflicts causing undue difficulty in fulfilling your stewardship? Can you be flexible in your scheduling and make visits at any time of day, if necessary? — Some sisters may have family or personal limitations that dictate they can only serve during a particular time of day. Others will have preferences, but may be flexible, which increases options when making assignments that will best meet the needs of each sister.
5. Is it necessary to take children with you? Are children a burden for any of the sisters you visit? — Some sisters’ homes are not child-friendly, creating stress when children come into the home. Children sometimes detract from the attention visiting teachers can give to a sister they are visiting. The knowledge that small ears are listening may inhibit a sister from sharing a need. Encourage sisters to trade child-care with one another and to avoid, when possible, taking children when visiting teaching.
6. Do you understand that while a personal visit is best, you can call your sisters or send a note if you are unable to visit? (A personal visit is required at least quarterly.) — I’ve seen many instances where a sister either makes personal visits or does nothing at all. While personal visits are stressed and encouraged, it is better for a sister to receive a telephone call or note than to be overlooked during a month when a personal visit is not possible.
7. Ask about each sister on the route individually. Does the visiting teacher feel she has connected well and has a good relationship with each sister, or are there problems? — This is an opportunity to explore how a sister feels about those she visits. Watch to see how her answers compare to those given by her companion.
8. Is there anything the presidency can do to improve your effectiveness as a visiting teacher, or to help any individual sister on your route? — This is an opportunity for the presidency to express love and concern for each individual sister, as well as to thank visiting teachers for their consistent watchcare over one another.
9. Who are your visiting teachers? When do they visit, and does this schedule work for you? How well are they meeting your needs? What do they do for you that means the most? — Give the sister an opportunity to express what she most appreciates about her visiting teachers, as well as to express any concerns or frustrations. Listen carefully, identifying where training is needed and what changes would create problems, rather than being beneficial.
I leave you my testimony of visiting teaching. There are some days when the greatest kindness anyone can extend is a listening ear that keeps confidences and a warm hug. As visiting teachers, we have the opportunity and responsibility to help the sisters feel the Spirit in their homes through the message and testimony we share. It is a great blessing to be entrusted to serve Heavenly Father’s children, and He abundantly blesses those who watch over one another in love.