Monday 6 July 2015

How to prepare for a social work interview

So, you’ve survived the rigours of the training and you are now eager to secure your dream job as a fully-qualified social worker, with only the interview standing in the way. But the competition is fierce, so setting yourself head and shoulders above your fellow applicants is essential if you’re to succeed – and it’s not simply a case of memorising a set of social work interview questions and answers.

Do your homework 

Social work interviews are a chance for your prospective employer to find out about you, and an unmissable opportunity to demonstrate how you will be an essential addition to their team. The job description will help you to understand how you can add value in your role as a social worker, but it may not be detailed. So, in addition, you should research the organisation in detail so that you can better understand how you can contribute to its development. Read the organisation’s website carefully, noting any identified strengths and weaknesses, and brush up on changes to legislation which might pose challenges for the future. 

The CommunityCare website is an invaluable resource for professionals to discuss issues related to social work and to find out about the latest changes in legislation. 

Do a mock interview 

While it’s sometimes difficult to predict with certainty the questions you’ll be asked, it’s highly likely that some standard ones will be part of the interview. It’s not necessary to be formulaic when responding to questions, but commencing your answer with a positive statement, referring to practical examples from your work practices and explaining how you could impact your employer’s team are valuable strategies. 

While questions such as "What makes an effective social worker?" and "What are your strengths and weaknesses?" are commonplace and well worth considering, rehearsing these verbatim is not necessarily the best plan. Instead, ensure that you have a clear vision of your professional practice so that, in the context of the questions asked, you can elaborate on this to the interviewers. 

Reflect on your experiences 

Behavioural interviewing is common in social work interviews, so reflecting on your experiences in your training will help to prepare you for this aspect of the assessment. Consider carefully how you have emerged and evolved as a professional as a result of your training. For example, have you become a better team player or can you make more accurate judgement calls in stressful situations and, if so, what happened to cause this? Have case studies up your sleeve that you can call on in your answers. 

Plan your goals 

You may be asked about your career goals in the future so have a clear idea of your priorities in the next three or five years. Also, ensure that you have a clear vision for how you aim to develop as a professional; employers are likely to be supportive of candidates who can evaluate their developmental needs. You’re not the complete package and there’s little harm in admitting this, as long as you show commitment to becoming an even better social worker.

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