Social work is not something one can do effectively while keeping distance. As a good candidate, you should always try to get as close to the people as possible. Close to their bodies, close to their hearts, close to their problems… This is the only way how to do this job well and you should know it and have a plan how to do it.
Get rid of your fear
First of all, you should mention that you understand the importance of getting closer to the target group. Doesn’t matter if you work with orphans, drug addicts, epileptics or seniors, you should say that you are not afraid to come to these people and spend time with them.
In order to understand their problems better, to see the pain in their hearts, you should say that you would like to communicate with them on a very personal level, spend time together with them and purposely do your very best to create good relationships with the clients.
Be as they are
The problem of many social workers is that they stand out from the crowd too much… If you come amongst poor children wearing a business suit, you will hardly get close to their hearts. You may get an attention, but that isn’t really what you seek. They will not respect you, they will feel a distance between you two. It is like inviting a homeless man to your beautiful office, just to take a questionnaire…
In order to understand your target group, you need to integrate into it, you need to be with it, live with it. That’s the only way.
I would go into their habitat, I would try to understand their language, think on the same wavelength as they do. I wouldn’t try to present myself as someone clever, but rather act as one of them, wear things they wear and speak the way they do. That is how I would try to get closer to them.
I would be a good listener at the first place. I would not come amongst them to give advice, or to persuade them to do anything. I would just listen to their needs, to their problems, offer a helping hand and a shoulder they can cry on. Doing this, I believe I can get closer to them and build good base for further work.