Researching the company will give you a better idea of where you will fit in. See what the company's website has posted as their upcoming projects, awards they've won and impacts they've made on the community. If you are interviewing for a position, working with a particular population that you've never worked with before, that could be an accomplishment of its own. Because your accomplishment won't be to go with the flow and fit in, you'll want to show your passion for the job and how you are going to make an impact within the company.
Social Work Interview Questions
What do you hope to accomplish at this company?
"I hope to bring a new social group to provide support and encouragement to our community."
How does the work in this organization fit your professional mission?
If you simply take a job for the paycheck then you will never be happy. If the organization fits well with your career aspirations, you'll naturally be motivated to do good work there. Tell the interviewer how similar the organization's mission is to yours. Tell the interviewer what it was about the organization's mission that got you excited to interview for this position.
"Our mission is the same: to provide quality care to patients."
What do you hope to accomplish in your career as a social worker?
One year from now, 5 years from now or even 10 years from now, where do you see your career at? The interviewer wants to know what motivates you and to what level you want to push yourself to. Let the interviewer know if you'd like to go back to school, work with a different population or even have your own practice. A feather in your hat would be to accomplish your goals at the agency you are applying to. This will tell the interviewer that you want to grow with them and you'll be around awhile.
"I've been working with developmentally disabled adults for 5 years and enjoy it. I'd like the chance to work more with children and possibly in a school setting."
"A hope to bring peace to patients that are suffering. If I'm able to help one client then it is worth it."
Social work is stressful and difficult at times. How do you handle the pressure?
Everyone experiences stress but how you deal with it is another thing. Be sure not to get spun up and go off on a tangent about a stressful situation but answer calmly with a few techniques you use to de-stress. Do you go to the gym? Go on walks? Spend time with your family? Go to church? Whatever the release, own it as it is YOUR way of managing work stress. Steer clear of any mention that you meet with a medical professional or manage daily with medication.
"I'm able to leave my work at work. My hobby is baking and is a stress reliever. Bringing cupcakes in the next day to work seems to lighten the mood at work as well."
Are you able to work well with a team?
Your resume shows that you possess the skills to do the job, now the interviewer wants to see if you can work well with others. Tell the interviewer about a few of the characteristics you possess that will come in handy while working on a team. Do you follow or lead well? Do you keep the team organized? Are you the one that always seems to make others smile?
"I do work well within the team. I'm often asked to be the lead of projects because of my time management and organizational skills. I don't have any problems delegating work, keeping a team on schedule and following up with people in order to accomplish a goal."
"Absolutely! My approach with patients is to work within a multidisciplinary team. It's important that we work well together to provide the best care for the patient."
What is your experience with the target population that you will be working with?
Because you've done your homework before the interview, you won't have to ask the awkward question of who your population will be. Have some situational stories handy to share with the interviewer. If you've never worked with the target population let the interviewer know but that you are excited at the chance to do something new. Do you best to relate your past work experience to what you are applying to.
"I haven't had the chance to work too much with adults as much of my experience is working with children. I look forward to the opportunity to work with a new population, learn and grow with them."
Tell me something about yourself that I wouldn't know from reading your resume?
This question can be your permission to be a little silly and share something unique about yourself. It's always important to make that great first impression or make an impact that the interviewer will remember you. Sharing a short story with the interviewer that had something to do with the job position would be a plus, but not necessary. Whatever you share, make it positive and not too personal. Don't share details about your night out with the girls last weekend.
Here's a sample answer: "Last week I started volunteering at our local animal shelter. I was able to help 6 dogs and 2 cats get adopted. I don't have a pet of my own so I've really enjoyed the time that I spend there."
"Last week I started volunteering at our local animal shelter. I was able to help 6 dogs and 2 cats get adopted. I don't have a pet of my own so I've really enjoyed the time that I spend there."
"Something that you would not know from reading my resume is that I was a competitive rugby player throughout high school. I feel that this athletic experience really helped me to learn how to help my clients set personal goals."
What is your ideal schedule?
This question could be a way for you to flip the tables and find out what schedules they work and what they wanted the new hire to work in. Be sure to voice at this time if day shift is the only shift you can work because of other obligations.
"I'm available to work any shift you need me on. What shifts do you all have here? Was there one that you needed me to fill? "
"My ideal schedule would be day shift but I'm able to work any shift with a few days notice."
What are your professional qualifications?
This question is why it is important to review your resume before the interview. Because we update our resume's so often you'll want to be sure you are hitting all the important information. Briefly, tell the interviewer what your education level and if you are licensed. The interviewer will want to hear about your recent work experiences and how they relate to the position you are interviewing for. Without spending too much time answering this question, concentrate on a handful of highlights during your career that will make you stand out and have the interviewer excited to ask more questions.
"I spent my internship working within the adoption and social work field and in an assisted living facility. With my wide range of experience paired with my education I know I would be an asset to your company."
What would your most recent supervisor say about you?
Now is your time to brag a little, assuming you made a good impression at your last job. Keep that letter of recommendation in your back pocket so the interviewer can follow up and learn more about your role and accomplishments in your last position.
"My last supervisor would say that I was dependable, hard working and organized."
"My current supervisor wrote an amazing reference letter for me. She would say that I'm empathetic and knowledgeable."
Have you done this type of work in the past?
This particular question may come up in your interview if you have recently graduated and haven't yet entered the workforce. Tell the interviewer about your internship and volunteer work. Volunteer work is valuable work experience that people sometimes forget to highlight in their interviews.
"Even though I just graduated with my bachelor's degree and haven't entered the workforce I have been fortunate enough to volunteer within the social services field. While I was in school I spent my time volunteering with Big Brothers and Big Sisters. I mentored young adults, helped them make good choices and empowered them to be the best that they could be. Volunteering was a very rewarding position and I can't wait to continue my service."
"I've been working towards obtaining my license for the last four years. I've had the opportunity to work for different organizations, learned a lot about the field and am ready to bring it to this position."
Why do you want this job? Why do you want to work for this organization?
Obviously, you want a job to pay your bills but during your interview is not the time to bring this up. Why did you choose to interview for this particular position? Do their goals match up with yours? Did you want to start working with adults because you've spent the last five years working with children? Whatever your reason, make your answer positive and throw in how you can bring something to the table.
"While I was in school I had the opportunity to volunteer with your organization. I learned so much from you all that when a position came up I knew I wanted to work there and give back to other volunteers."
"I've just finished my internship and earned my licensure. I'd like to work with this company because I can grow with it. Start in an entry level position and work towards a leadership position over time."
How do you define success in your work and personal life?
Don't get too hung up on this question. Remember, this is how YOU define success not how you think the interviewer would. If success to you is simply making a difference in people's lives every day, then own it. Don't feel that this answer is about what monetary award you need to win in order to be successful.
"The ability to empower people to better themselves and see a positive outcome is my definition of success. The fact that I've been able to not bring potential work stress home with me has been a success on its own."
"Success in both my work and personal life is being happy each day."
What have been your most difficult type of client thus far?
Don't get hung up on the word 'difficult' but think of it as a welcomed challenge. If you choose to highlight a particular population, the interviewer may fear that you are not comfortable or knowledgeable working with that particular crowd. Instead, choose a character that is difficult. Don't use names or too many details. The important thing to remember with this question is how you learned and become a better Social Worker because of this type of client.
"The most difficult client would be the one that given the tools to help themselves they choose not to. Over the years I've been able to be creative on how I work with these clients. These clients are always challenging but after time they see that I'm trying to help and it is very rewarding."
"The most difficult type of client is a child involved in a child abuse situation. The situation can be emotional and time consuming."
After reviewing our job description, what do you feel makes you most qualified for this position with us?
This question is similar to the famous 'Tell us about yourself' question. Were you drawn to this agencies description because you felt it was written just for you? Is the description something out of your comfort zone and you're ready for the challenge? Be confident with your answer. Don't talk yourself out of the job by stating you don't have the experience. Secure the job by showing your enthusiasm, confirming your capabilities through your education and skills and let the interviewer know that you are a new set of eyes ready for the challenge.
"When I read your job announcement I knew I had to apply, I felt like it was written just for me! I've had the opportunity through my experience to match up to all of your qualifications and then some! I'm excited for the opportunity to share my experience with co-workers and pick up where I left off with new clients."
"I've been following your company for years just waiting for a position to open up. I have all of the qualifications on paper and more. I'd like the opportunity to bring a new approach to your company and provide excellent care to your patients."
How has your education/work experience prepared you for this position?
What action steps would you take to remove children from an unsafe home environment?
What are your career goals? For the next 5 years? The next 10 years?
How do you plan out your day to ensure that all priorities are met?
What have been your most desirable clients in your social work career so far?
Why are you interested in this agency?
Do you feel comfortable working with adoptions?
What kind of supervision do work best with?
How would you handle visiting a family and coming to the realization that they are neglecting/abusing their children?
What is your communication style?
When working with child abuse cases, what do you find the most difficult and how do you manage your emotions?
When working with adoption cases, what do you find the most difficult and how do you manage your emotions?
What would you like to learn here?
What is your greatest strength? How does it help you with your career in social work?
Are you able to work overtime, evenings or weekends as needed?