The world’s population is getting older, while we face many economic, social, and intercultural problems. No wonder that the recent study showed that social work belongs to the fastest growing careers in the United States. More than twenty people in average applied for every social worker job opening in the States in the observed period.
If you are one of them, and wonder what will happen in your job interview, what questions will they ask, and how you should answer them, you have found the right website. My name is Ellen King, I have worked for a leading recruitment agency within health & social care for years, and today I will help you to prepare for your social work interview. Welcome!
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 we look for such workers in an interview.
Good social workers are proud of their jobs, and they enjoy doing them, because they understand the value they bring to the society with their work, on both local and global scale. This attitude should be reflected in the enthusiasm and motivation you will show us in an interview, and also in your answers to the questions.
What questions will they ask?
The typical interview starts lightly, with a few so called “screening” questions. Hiring managers want to hear something about you, trying to understand your motivation, attitude to work, your communication skills, and basically they try to get a good grasp of you as a person.
Answering these questions, try to talk about things that are related to the job–your education in the field, your experience, your values, and motivation. We 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 are your strengths and your weaknesses as a social worker?
We will take notice of both your verbal and non-verbal communication, trying to understand if you have the right personality for the job, if you would not struggle working with our target group of clients. Try to stay focused, listen carefully to the questions, and speak to the point.
Behavioral questions – second part of an interview
After the initial screening questions, we will ask you some behavioral questions. We will ask you about particular situations from your previous jobs (or from your studies if you apply for your first job). We will try to understand how you would act in your new job, and your attitude to various work-related situations. Let’s have a look at the common questions we use.
- What do you consider your major successes and accomplishments in your last job?
- What was your biggest failure in social work so far?
- Think of an aggressive/angry client from the past. How did you deal with them?
- Describe a conflict you had with one of your colleagues.
- Describe a situation when you did something more than expected from you.
- There are always cases we can do nothing about. Describe me such a case from your experience, and the things you had tried before you gave up.
Behavioral questions can vary, depending on a specific role in social work you interview for. Think about your previous jobs for a while, and try to recall the pressure you felt, a situation when you met tight deadline, a moment of achieving success, and failure, a conflict you had with someone, etc.
Last part of an interview
Last stage of the interview process consists in job-specific questions, or if you want technical questions. These are mostly related to a particular job you try to get, unless we interview you in an agency (and have the same interview template for all applicants). See some common questions below:
- What is your opinion about young generation?
- What are good topics to talk about with seniors?
- How would you get closer to our target group, as a human being?
- If a client did not understand a simple language, what would you do to get your message over?
- Are you ready to make home visits?
- Would you mind working overtime?
- Here is a problem we have. Prepare a solution and describe it to us. You have ten minutes for your preparation.
Difficult, or easy interview?
Social work interview belongs to difficult job interviews. You will compete with many other job seekers, and you will have to convince us of your readiness to do the job, of your skills, and abilities.
If you want to prepare better than the other job applicants, you can check my eBook, the Social Work Interview Guide, in which I answer all difficult behavioral and technical questions, teach you winning interview strategies, and basically everything you need to know to interview with ease, and get a job.
Thank you, I wish you good luck in your interview.
Ellen King, Your personal job interview coach