The interview questions every social worker should prepare for

Want to ace your next social work interview? Having an answer to some of the most common questions you may be asked is a great way to boost your confidence, get rid of those pre-interview nerves and land yourself your next dream role in social care. Check out a list of the most common interview questions that hiring managers may ask you about a social-work-related role, curated by our knowledgeable consultants here at SP.

 

  • “Can you tell me about yourself?”

This is an opportunity for the employer to find out about your skill set and why It relates to the role, so try to avoid listing your qualities, unless of course you are asked to describe yourself in three words.

If you consider yourself someone who likes to rise to a challenge, someone who works well in a team or has a highly adaptable approach to caseloads and situations, you’ll need to be able to demonstrate these with real examples of where you have demonstrated these in previous roles. Do try to keep your examples brief though. There will be plenty of opportunities for you to talk more about your specific experience later in the interview.

  • “Can you give an example of something you are proud of in your social work career?”

This is your chance to show how innovative and resourceful you are. If you’ve got experience with creative support planning, here’s your chance to say how valuable this can be in adult social care. Use your knowledge of the local area to show how you would draw upon the support already available in the community.

You could focus on how you managed to assist a family in making positive changes in their life when the situation initially looked very different. Or you could highlight where you’ve taken the lead on an innovative project or focus on a specialist area of practice you are trained in, for example, Achieving Best Evidence (ABE) protocol.

  • “What do you know about working for our local authority?”

For this question, the interviewer wants you to show how you’ve taken the time to research the local demographic and services provided. Our consultants will be able to help you with this, but there’s no replacement for doing your own research, checking the local authority’s website, identifying relevant media coverage and viewing recent OFSTED reports. If the local authority has been involved in piloting a project in social care, recognise this and mention it when answering the question as it demonstrates how knowledgeable and resourceful you are.

  • “How do you prioritise your caseload?”

You will need to show how adaptable you are and how seriously you take meeting deadlines whilst balancing the need to address urgent enquiries that require action. Make sure to demonstrate how you communicate with your peers and managers to facilitate effective case management is key, so be ready with 2-3 examples if you can.

  • “Could you give me an example of a complex case you were involved with?”

Children’s:

If the role is in children’s services, be concise when explaining the case and underline your understanding of child support, safeguarding and protection within the context of relevant legislation. You may also be asked to review an example case of a child who may be at risk and identify what processes you would follow and what multi-agency checks you might make.

Adults:

If it’s an adult social work position, be ready to explain your understanding of your legal responsibilities with regard to adult safeguarding following the introduction of the Care Act 2014. Depending on the role, you might wish to discuss Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards and when mental capacity assessments are appropriate.

  • “What is your experience in working with partner agencies?”

Employers will be looking at how well you work with partners to secure positive outcomes for vulnerable people, whether children or adults. External agencies will sometimes have conflicting concerns or differing views – you will need to be able to explain how you manage this in order to secure the best outcomes for people.

Multi-agency working is a really strong aspect of securing positive outcomes for children and young people – if you’ve worked with other agencies (perhaps with a MASH) and can explain both the challenges and benefits, here’s your chance.

Be prepared to speak about working with health professionals, especially if applying for a role in adult social work. Local research about clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in the area will be useful and will allow you to choose examples from your own professional experience.

  • “How do you make sure you are on top of your continuing professional development (CPD)?”

Employers will look at how your CPD has broadened your skill set and why it will be of direct benefit to them. You will need to be able to talk beyond just having an acknowledgement of the importance of CPD. Have a couple of examples you can draw upon. Perhaps it’s a course you’ve attended, or networking with other agencies, service users or the wider community that has helped to inform your practice. Remember, employers, are looking to see how well you communicate with and learn from others.

You could also draw upon your own network ahead of the interview, especially if you know somebody who already works for the employer. This will assist you in having a greater understanding of the role and what examples you might want to give to show how you are suitable for the position.

  • “Have you got any questions?”

You’ll more than likely feel you’ve covered everything you would like to know, but there’s nothing more awkward than not having anything else to ask. It’s also your chance to bring a natural close to the interview. You could ask more specific questions about the nature of the role; for example, how does the position fit into the overall team structure and what opportunities are there for career progression? You could also ask if there is an area they would like you to go back over or expand on to perhaps give you the chance to cover anything you may have left out.

 

 

And there you have it, after preparing for these questions you should feel a lot more confident about the upcoming interview. A good way to practice would be to write down the answers multiple times without prompts or rehearse them with a friend. However, make sure not to over-revise, as you may seem robotic and unnatural when in the interview room.

Above all, remember to keep calm, smile, and take your time with the answers. Good luck!

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