Tips on Answering Social Worker Interview Questions

Social Worker Interview Questions
Created by CakeResume

Social workers are important, yet relatively unknown support staff in healthcare, criminal justice and welfare industries, providing assistance and support to help vulnerable people live independently. 

As social work roles can vary depending on the industry, and deal with sensitive issues. Being prepared for social worker interviews can help you show your professionalism and suitability for the role. We’ll go through ways to answer social work interview questions depending on the situation, as well as ways to stand out when interviewing for social worker roles.

Social Work Interview Questions

Social work interviews will start like any other interview, with general questions about yourself and your experience. However, social work requires a thorough education and experience, which interviewers will ask for in social work interviews. 

❓ General Social Worker Interview Questions

General social work interview questions will ask you to discuss goals, skills, qualifications and experience. Common social work interview questions include: 

  • What field do you focus on in your social work?
  • Tell me about yourself. Why did you want to become a social worker?
  • What are your qualifications in social work?
  • Describe your experiences in social work, with children, the elderly or in hospital settings.
  • What are the most important qualities for a social worker to have?
  • What is your goal as a social worker?
  • What is your communication style?
  • How do you make accommodations for clients who need them?
  • What is your greatest strength and how do you apply it to social work?
  • How do you stay organized when working with many unique clients?

❓ Behavioral Interview Questions for Social Workers

As mentioned before, social workers can be in many different settings, and roles can be specialized depending on the client base and setting. Likewise, social worker interview questions will have a behavioral component to them, as social work is a client-facing role which requires interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence. More complex behavioral and specialized social worker interview questions you might be asked in a social work interview can include: 

  • Can you tell me about a time you handled a difficult or complicated client? 
  • Give an example of how you handled disappointment with a client in a social work setting.
  • Describe a time when you had to handle social work matters urgently.

❓ Social Work Scenario Interview Questions

Social worker interviews might have a scenario or case study component to check if you can apply your education in context. When preparing for a social work interview, try briefly analyzing and discussing ways you could make plans for different scenarios. Social work interviewers would not expect you to have a complete idea, but knowing social work concepts and laws will help you answer scenario-based social work interview questions.

Here are scenario questions asked in social work interviews to give you an idea: 

  • Janice is a 78-year-old lady who lives alone. She has been admitted to hospital after falling at home for the 3rd time this month. After discussing with her children and doctors, she is considering moving into an assisted living facility after being discharged from hospital. How can a social worker help here?
  • How would you make a plan of action for a single father who wants to find a school which can accommodate his special needs son?
  • Explain the steps you’d take to ensure a new mother at risk attends her postpartum appointments regularly.

❓ Social Work Internship Interview Questions

  • How has your education prepared you for real-life social work cases?
  • What is your greatest weakness, and how do you stop it from getting in your way?
  • What do you want to gain from a social work internship?

❓ Social Work Supervisor Interview Questions

  • How do you evaluate the success of your team as a social work supervisor?
  • How do you handle the pressure of matters being escalated to you?
  • What ways do you promote teamwork across the unique roles in social work?

❓ Hospital/Medical Social Work Interview Questions

  • What would you do if a client disagrees with a treatment plan?
  • How do you maintain privacy and confidentiality when handling medical matters?
  • How do you utilize a medical team to provide care for a client?

Tips for Answering Social Work Interview Questions

Social work interview questions can be very complex, and need a mixture of knowledge, intuition and tact to form a professional response. Use all social work interview questions as an opportunity to share your experience, interpersonal skills and qualifications. Rather than giving a basic response, use our tips for social work job interviews to answer mindfully in your social work interview.

💡 Research the organization you’re interviewing at 

Social work organizations are specialized depending on the setting you are practicing in. Research the organization ahead of your social work interview and familiarize yourself with the organization's aim, values and typical client demographics. Bring these up in your social work interview when answering questions, for example:

Q: Describe your experiences in social work, with children, the elderly or in hospital settings.

“I have worked as a healthcare assistant for 2 years, where I have done specialized rotations in the children's department and labor & delivery. I am drawn to this role because of my experience, as your organization focuses on women & children in need.” 

💡 Showcase your credentials

Social workers require credentials, education & qualifications in order to practice social work. Although interviewers will see these on your resume, mentioning unique aspects or achievements related to them during your social work interview can give your credentials a boost. If you are doing an interview for a social work supervisor role, this is where you can mention any extra credentials. An example of including your credentials when answering social work interview questions would be:

Q: What are your qualifications in social work?

“I have studied the Social Work degree at University, which involved classes and placements. My placements were in hospital and community settings, which contributed to my contact hours to qualify as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.” 

💡 Share your first-hand experience

Sharing relevant first-hand experience during social work interviews will add more detail to your answers, making you unique to other candidates. Asking for your experience in general is a common social work interview question, but you can include your experiences throughout your social work interview. When preparing for your social work interview, reflect on experiences you have volunteering or working in diverse settings. 

Q: How do you maintain privacy and confidentiality when handling medical matters?

“From my experience working as a healthcare assistant, I assisted vulnerable mothers with accessing support, and also alerted authorities when clients showed signs of abuse. I learnt how to maintain confidentiality and privacy in situations where people were at risk.”

💡 Use the STAR method

The STAR method is a classic interview technique which helps you include key information when answering interview questions, and can be used in social work interviews too! The STAR technique is especially useful for social work interview questions, as your answers will typically involve examples. See how we’ve used the star technique for a common social work interview question below:

Q: Give an example of how you handled disappointment with a client in a social work setting.

“Once when handling the post-natal care for a vulnerable mother, she asked if we could help her find a local support network for her and her baby. We aimed to have her registered for the local mothers group program, which would provide her with assistance with check-ups, mental health care and socializing for her and her baby. The program had a long waiting list, so she was not able to join, and was very disappointed. Instead, I discussed preferences and priorities regarding support, and searched around for another mothers group. We found one in the next suburb over, where she could have medical and mental health care, and was able to socialize at both support centers.” 

💡 Prepare for hard-hitting questions

The social work scenario interview questions we discussed before test your ability to apply your education to real-life social work. However, the reality is that social work can be very difficult and needs more than just education to find solutions. You might be given a scenario of a moral dilemma or tough situation as a social work interview question, which can be difficult to think over in a short period of time. Show preparedness for the realities of social work in your interview by researching case studies, typical issues for the organization or area, or complexities of social work law. Here is an example answer for a difficult social work interview question: 

Q: What would you do if a client disagrees with a treatment plan?

“I would make sure to explain the necessity for treatment and care provided by social work teams, and discuss how we could provide accommodations for them. For instance, parents who need to be separated from their children to have medical care – they are usually upset but we must assure them we have their best interest, and can provide visits with their children when permitted.”

Questions to Ask the Interviewer in a Social Work Interview

Asking a question when the interviewer opens up discussion in your social work interview shows your eagerness for the role. Likewise, it can provide you with extra insight into whether the role is right for you. Here are examples of questions to ask in a social worker interview, with example answers to help you practice: 

1. What are the biggest challenges the organization faces at the moment?

Asking this question in social work interviews shows your curiosity and interest in the organization, as well as provides you with more information from the interviewer to see if the role is the right fit for you.

2. What is a typical day like?

Social work can vary greatly depending on the area, focus and type of support offered, so use your social work interview to gain more perspective about the role. 

3. What is considered a “success” in this position?

Social workers aim to give support and guidance, to achieve outcomes specific to each client. Asking this question in your social worker interview will allow the interviewer to explain the expectations for the role. This is an especially useful interview question for social work supervisors, who are responsible for their teams.

4. Are there any opportunities for professional development?

Aside from experience, social work organizations can provide specialized training relating to their area of focus. As you will likely be working with a team of experienced professionals, asking a question about opportunity in your social work interview will give you insight into the trajectory of the role, as well as the team you will be working with.

Social Work Interview Questions and Answers for University

If you are applying to study social work at university, the interview questions for social work students will differ slightly. Interviews to study social work are more to see if you know what social work is about, and to test your social skills in person. University interview questions for social work will revolve around your motivation, interest and goals related to social work. Here are 3 common social work interview questions for university students to get you started:

✏️ Why do you want to study social work?

“I want to study social work because I enjoy working with people and problem solving. The problems faced in social work are unique to each client, and utilizing my skills and education to  provide a specialized solution is incredibly fulfilling to me.”

✏️ How can the course help you reach your goal?

“The course at this university provides me with the right education and qualifications to become a licensed social worker. Likewise, the course has placement components which both contribute to the contact hour requirements and provide me with unique experiences in many social work settings.”

✏️ What are the characteristics you have that make you suitable for the course?

“I have hard skills such as critical analysis, problem solving and communication which will allow me to methodically discuss solutions to issues. Additionally, I am resilient, and have strong time management skills which can allow me to cope in stressful environments. I also have strong interpersonal skills and am a good listener who can empathetically support people when they are vulnerable.”

🔑 Key Takeaways

Overall, social work interviews are an opportunity for you to share your skills, experiences and interest in social work. Social work interview questions have diverse themes and formats, so preparing for questions about social work in advance will help you articulate yourself better.

Practice for your social work interview with our common social work interview questions, think back on your experiences and be prepared for tough questions.

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--- Originally written by Bronte McNamara ---

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