Our population is getting older, and we face both global and local economic, social, and intercultural problems. No wonder the recent study (from September 2017) showed that social work belongs to the fastest growing careers in the United States. In average, more than twenty people applied for every social worker job opening.
What questions should you expect in your social work interview? How to make the best possible impression on the interviewing panel? And what decides the winner at the end?
Simply, how to prepare for this challenging experience, and walk away with a coveted job contract? We will try to answer the question on our website that specializes only in social work interviews.
Written by Ellen King, Interviewer at specialized Social Work recruitment agency & Jacob Gates, Independent Interview Coach
Job, or a mission?
Before we start analyzing particular interview questions, we should talk about the attitude you should show in your interview. Social work is not only a job–it is a mission, a calling, a way of life. At least that’s the way exceptional social workers approach their job, and employers look for such workers in the interviews.
Good social workers are proud of themselves, and they enjoy their job, day in day out, becasue they understand the value their work brings to the society, on both local and global scale.
This attitude should be reflected in the enthusiasm and motivation you show in an interview, and also in your answers to the interview questions.
What questions will they ask?
The typical social work interview starts lightly, with a few general questions. Hiring managers want to hear something about you. You should talk about things that are related to the job. For example your education in social field, your experience, your core values, and motivation. They will ask you some of the following questions:
- Why do you want to work on this position?
- What do you hope to accomplish as a social worker?
- Why did you decide for this specific filed of social work, and not for another one?
- Why should we hire you for this position?
- What characterize a good social worker from your point of view?
- What do you consider your strengths and your weaknesses as a social worker?
When asking these questions, hiring managers will observe your gestures, your non-verbal communication, your enthusiasm, your listening abilities, and many other things one can observe when asking someone a question. They will try to asses the way in which you talk to clients.
Try to stay focused, listen carefully to their questions, and speak to the point. Try to stay calm, professional, but show enthusiasm for the role at the same time.
When the first part of the interview process ends, you will be confronted with several behavioral questions. Interviewers will ask you about certain situations from previous jobs. They try to foresee your behavior in the future, once you work for them. I suggest you to think about your working experience right now, trying to find good answers to the following questions:
- What do you consider to be your major successes and accomplishments in your last job? Who did help you the most to achieve it?
- What has been your biggest failure in social work so far?
- Think of an aggressive/angry client from the past. How did you deal with the situation?
- Think about conflict situation form your last job. How did you solve the conflict?
- Describe a situation when you did something more than expected from you as a social worker.
- There are always cases we can do nothing about to solve. Describe me such a case from your experience. What have you tried before giving up?
Behavioral questions can vary a lot, depending on a specific social work job you apply for. However, it is good to think about your previous jobs, just to be ready to describe some situations that happen regularly in social work.
Last stage of the typical social work interview questions consists of specific questions, or if you want technical questions. These will be related to a specific job you apply for. Here are some examples:
- What is your opinion about young generation?
- What do you consider good topics for a talk with seniors?
- How would you get closer to our target group, as a human being?
- If a client did not understand a simple language you used, what would you do?
- Are you prepared to make home visits?
- Are you prepared to work overtime?
- Here is a problem we have. Prepare a solution and describe it to me. You have ten minutes for your preparation.
Role play has become popular in all sorts of job interviews. Especially in private institutions (such as nursing homes), interviewers will often play a client (or they will brings one to the room, or ask you to visit one with them), and ask you to “perform your job”. The guide on how to ace a role play exceeds the purpose of this website (of a free part). However, I can give you at least a few hints:
- Be yourself. Do not try to be a different person, just adjust your behavior a little bit to the situation.
- Accept the role play. Some people refuse to do it in an interview. If you refuse to do the role play, however, they won’t give you a job.
- Take it seriously. I know it is only a play. But anyway, you should take it as seriously as ever, because it is a part of your interview. And many times it is the most important part of the interviewing process…
What to say at the end?
You will find great answers to some interview questions on our website. We hope it will help you to ace your interview, and start your mission as a social worker.
If you want to take an extra step, however, seeing information that are not available to public, you can have a look at my eBook, Social Work Interview Guide. You will find there brilliant answers to twenty five most common social work interview questions, winning interview strategies, and much more…
We wish you good luck in your interview!
Ellen King & the rest of SocialWorkInterviewQuestions.com Team