If you’re thinking of becoming a social worker or working in children’s services, then you need to be prepared to face an interview. In this blog, we’re going to be looking at 5 social worker interview questions and answers.
1. “Tell me about yourself” – Social Worker Interview Questions and Answers
This is a commonly used icebreaker, which helps to build up an initial rapport between you and the interviewer. It gives you the opportunity to talk about yourself, your interests and your background. The key to answering this question is to structure your response in a clear and concise manner. Start with your GCSEs or early qualifications, then include any key work experience. Finally, discuss your most recent accomplishments. Structuring your response will ensure that the interviewer gets a clear idea of who you are and how your background will help you to perform the role.
‘I’m a really caring and compassionate person, who has always been interested in social work and looking after children. I started my own babysitting service at a very young age, and then pursued this interest at both GCSE and A-Level. As part of the placements on my undergraduate course, I worked in a children’s home. This was the most rewarding experience of my career.
I developed fantastic relationships with all of the children involved and am still in contact with many of them now. After my undergraduate degree, I studied social work at postgraduate level, and took placements in a juvenile detention centre and on the paediatric social team within a hospital. Both of these roles challenged me to my utmost, but I ultimately emerged a more capable, experienced and confident social worker. I’m extremely grateful for the opportunities that I have been afforded. I’m now looking for a role which allows me to use the skills I’ve developed.’
2. “What do you know about our organisation?” – Social Worker Interview Questions and Answers
This is another commonly asked question. Here, the interviewer wants to know that you have done your research on their company prior to the interview. You don’t have to know the organisation inside out, but you should always make sure that you have a good idea of the services they offer, when they started, how successful they are, any recent awards they have been nominated for, and their company values.
If you can’t answer this question then you will come across as uninterested or unenthusiastic. Obviously, your answer will be specific to the company to which you are applying. If you haven’t got a particular job in mind, just google any social work vacancy. Find out the name of the employer and then research them. Use this information to structure your answer, and don’t be afraid to flatter the employer either.
I know that you are a highly influential voluntary organisation, who have made a huge impact within the UK. You were founded in 2006 and provide support to vulnerable adults on a variety of issues; such as alcohol, drugs and mental health. One of the things that drew me to this organisation was your recent nomination for the HCAM award, which recognises contributions to health, care and medical services in the United Kingdom. I’m someone who really cares about making a positive difference to people’s lives, and I know that this is a value that your organisation shares and delivers upon, on a daily basis.’
3. “What are your biggest strengths?” – Social Worker Interview Questions and Answers
This is a great question for you, as it allows you to highlight your best qualities. Make sure that your answer is relevant to the role. As we have mentioned several times, personality is extremely important within the social sector. It’s a difficult and often emotionally challenging career, and therefore the organisation needs to know that they are hiring someone who can deliver on their personal expectations. As we have relayed at several points in this book, a good social worker is someone who is:
- Caring and non-judgemental.
- Able to make key decisions.
- An excellent communicator.
In your answer, show the interviewer that you are in possession of the personal qualities that they are looking for, and that you know how they are relevant to the role.
‘My biggest strength is that I’m a really caring and non-judgemental person; and I know that this is essential when building a relationship with service users. I’m also very organised. This quality has really helped me in the past when it came to submitting and reviewing case reports, and planning activities. Finally, I’m an excellent communicator, who is not afraid of making big decisions. My communication skills help me to gain all of the information that is needed to make a final decision on particular cases. This is also useful for establishing a level of trust between myself and those I am working to help.’
4. “What is your biggest weakness?” – Social Worker Interview Questions and Answers
Be very careful when answering this question. You need to show a level of personal awareness, and strength of character. The worst thing you can say here is, ‘I have none’. This will show a lack of sensitivity to the interviewer; and this could be particularly damning if you are applying for a role as a social worker.
Try to select one weakness, which you believe working for the organisation will improve. Alternatively, select a weakness which you have already taken steps to improve, and show how you have done it. Make sure that the weakness you select is something that will not severely damage your ability to perform the role; the key is to show that you are someone who recognises their own limitations, and responds accordingly.
‘My biggest weakness is that I have been known, at times, to put too much responsibility on myself. I’m someone who always wants to see a job done properly, and therefore I have a tendency to avoid delegating tasks to anyone else. This was particularly an issue at university. On one occasion I was placed in a team with three others. After two weeks, it became apparent that the other members of the team were discontented. This was because I had taken too much work, and not left them enough to do. We had a group meeting to resolve the issue and I quickly realised my mistake. I’m working extremely hard to fix this, as I know that working in a team is a vital requirement for any social worker.’
5. “Why have you chosen social work as a career?” – Social Worker Interview Questions and Answers
This is a really interesting question, and is your opportunity to show the employer how much you care about the role. It’s a great chance for you to display your caring and compassionate nature, and show that you are serious about improving the lives of service users. If you really are someone who cares about industry, this should be an easy answer. You can even show some knowledge of public perceptions and media representations here.
‘Social work is extremely important. I’ve always been interested in helping people, and for me the value of helping others to improve their lives surpasses any monetary gain. So, on a personal level, I have spent large portions of my childhood in contact with social workers who have changed my life for the better. I would not be where I am today without their support and guidance, and this has absolutely inspired me. So, every time I read a negative media portrayal of the social sector, I think back to my own experiences; and how I want to help disprove the negative stereotypes associated with the role. Therefore, this position really means something to me.’
Conclusion – Social Worker Interview Questions and Answers
Now that you’ve made yourself aware of 5 key social worker interview questions, it’s time to continue your preparation. Check out our guide to becoming a social worker: How to Become a Social Worker.