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."
Keep in mind this is a two part question. Start this question off with a snapshot of your education. A Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) is required to be a Social Worker, a Masters Degree is preferred as well as the appropriate licensure and credentials for the state that you are working in. When discussing your work experience you'll want to keep it short. Have a few big impact experiences to share with the interviewer that will show your wide range of skills as a Social Worker.
"In addition to my Bachelors and Masters degree in Social work I've devoted many hours volunteering with our local Woman's shelter and local school. I've been lucky enough for the last 4 years to work with an amazing staff of professionals and be able to bring my experience into the homes of families that need my intervention and counseling."
"My internship has truly prepared me for this position. I was supervised at a psychiatric facility by a very knowledgeable LCSW. I was able to utilize my education and the support of leadership to become the Social Worker that I am today."
For this interview answer you will briefly explain the steps from the emergency removal to the child returning back to the home. Take this time to let the interviewer know that you've been through this process before, how you were a part of the process and what the outcome was. Be sure not to use names or identifying information.
"I would first get all the appropriate agencies and people involved. I would assure that we follow all State and Federal rules and safely remove the child."
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."
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."
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.
"I hope to bring a new social group to provide support and encouragement to our community."
Keep this answer within the same wheelhouse as the job you are interviewing for. 5 years isn't very far away so it would be ideal to let the interviewer know that you would like to be at the same company. Now would be the best time to tell the interviewer that you would like to start working on your Masters Degree and have it within the next 5 years. Have you always wanted to be an entrepreneur? Owning your own counseling office would be a great goal to achieve in 10 years.
"In 5 years I'd like to be one of your lead Social Workers. In 10 years I will have been in the career field over 20 years. I'd like to be in private practice part time."
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."
As a Social Worker, you have to juggle many things within your career. Paperwork, home visits, courtroom appearances can consume you if you don't have a good system to keep everything on track. Are you a to-do list person? Maintain a daily planner? How do you prioritize your work? Tell the interviewer how you manage your day through the organization. You never know, the interviewer may be so impressed that they ask you to help organize a program or create a new process to help out the organization.
"I arrive to work each morning about 20 minutes early. This gives me time to grab a cup of coffee, get my daily files together and plan my day. By the time my shift starts I'm ready to grab my bag and head out to homes for visits."
"I arrive to work 15 minutes early each day. This gives me time to get my computer on, grab a cup of coffee greet my coworkers and prioritize my to-do list for the day."
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."
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."
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."
As a Social Worker, your most desirable clients would be the one's you can tick a box and confirm that they are on the road to recovery. Obviously not every client is that easy. What characteristic do these dream patients have that makes your job so easy and rewarding. Steer clear of mentioning names and too much personal information. Feel free to mention a particular population if you know that it is the only population the agency works with. If you are interviewing for a position within an adoption agency, and your favorite population is drug addicted adults, you might talk yourself out of a job.
"My most desirable type of client has been the one that has helped identify the problem, allows me to help them with the tools provided and makes positive progress every day."
"As a social worker my most enjoyable clients are the one's that have come to the realization that they need help and are ready to change."
This question is the perfect opportunity to show the interviewer that you've done your homework on the company and how you might fit into the open role. Tell the interviewer two or three reasons you want to be a Social Worker for their company. Memorize at least two reasons this job is a good match for your skills, strengths, experience, and background. What sets you apart from the other candidates? What can you bring to the table?
"I love helping people and have always wanted to be a Social Worker. I've heard so many success stories from your clinic that I'm hoping to get the chance to learn, grow and develop at this company."
"I haven't had the chance to work with your largest population of autistic individuals. I look forward to the opportunity."
As a Social worker specializing in adoption, you facilitate the adoption process for both the family that is adopting and the child who is legally separated from their biological parents. You may work with government organizations or adoption agencies to place orphaned children in adoptive homes. As a Social Worker, you may have the opportunity to specialize in foreign or domestic adoptions. If adoptions are too emotional for you to be a part of then don't interview for the job. Let the interviewer know your past experience with adoptions, that you don't let your emotions get the best of you and that you treat it as you would any of your cases.
"I am comfortable working with adoptions, I've had the opportunity to spend the last 2 years supporting an adoption agency. I find the position to be very challenging yet rewarding."
"I haven't had the chance to work with adoptions yet. I'm comfortable working with all the types of clients I've had so far so I'm sure adoptions won't be any different."
The correct answer to this question is that you can work under ANY type of supervision style. You wouldn't want to bring up a particular style for fear that the interviewer is the total opposite. Let the interviewer know that you've worked under various types of supervision and you've been successful under all of them.
"I've worked under all types of leadership styles and have been able to work under all of them. I do find that I work best with a supervisor that is confident, hard working and possesses the same integrity as I do."
"I've had the opportunity to work and excel with all types of supervision."
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 workers regularly work within the homes. If you've had this situation come up in the past, relay to the interviewer how you handled it. Did you see visual evidence? Did the mother confide in your that there was abuse in the house? Did the child voice the concern? As a Social Worker, you take in all the information and stay a part of the process from start to finish. Mandatory reporting laws not only require social workers to report suspected cases of child abuse and neglect but also there can be varying levels of civil and criminal liability for failing to do so.
"Because I'm new to the career field I would come back with reinforcements. I would bring a colleague with me to confirm my assumptions and suspicions."
As a Social Worker, your communication style should be effective. For this answer, you will want to tell the interviewer how you communicate as a therapist as well as an employee. As a Social Worker, you must communicate with clients to gain information, convey critical information and make important decisions. Without effective communication skills, you may not be able to obtain or convey information and cause detrimental effects to your clients. As a team player, your communication style should be direct, honest and collaborative. Share a situation where you had effective communication and what the outcome was.
"My communication style in both my professional life and personal life is to be factual and honest. I've found that this achieves the most effective results."
"As a Social Worker I feel it's important to be direct. Direct communication leave less room for miscommunication."
Child abuse cases pull at every Social Worker's heart strings. The best way to answer this question will be calmly in a professional manner. You may want to share the time that you wanted to slash the perpetrator's tires but that would show the interviewer that you can't handle your emotions. Yes, we all get angry but the interview is not the time to share your aggression. Explain to the interviewer about your role of coordinating reporting processes and the team effort involved in child abuse cases. How were you the glue that kept the team together?
"Being able to discuss cases with my colleagues, gain insight and get suggestions helps me manage my emotions."
As a Social Worker, you may specialize in adoption coordinate services for families. As a Social Worker specializing in adoption, you'll need to find a balance between engaging emotionally with a client and maintaining a professional distance. Finding this balance will allow you to provide the best service and avoid unnecessary personal stress. Share a story with the interviewer about a time you stepped into the adoption process to help a child. Explain how you were able to keep your emotions in check so you could perform your job. Identify that you are aware of the emotional exhaustion that can consume you but that you don't allow it to have a negative effect.
"I haven't had the opportunity to work with an adoption case yet. I would imagine it brings up similar emotions that I've experience in other cases that involve children. To manage my emotions and still remain empathetic we meet as a team every morning to discuss cases and the emotions that come along with them. Being able to talk about our cases with each other helps manage our emotions."
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."
Even if you've been a Social Worker for many years there is probably one aspect of the career field that intrigues you and you're excited about the opportunity to learn more. Whether you're ready to learn from your peers or learn a particular skill, letting the interviewer know how you want to improve yourself will show that you want to bring these skills to your new job and become a better Social Worker.
"I read on your web page that you specialize in working with drug addicted children. I haven't had the chance to work with this population yet but I'm very excited at the chance. I've led a very successful group for addicted adults and would love the chance to start up a group for addicted children."
"I would like to get more experience with the adoption process. I was able to spend some time being supervised at an agency but didn't get to jump into the process as much as I would've like to."
As a Social Worker you know this question will be asked! Don't choose an answer that you think the interviewer wants to hear. Choose a characteristic that you possess so you can show how it relates to your career. Have you become more empathetic and it allows you to relate with your clients more? Do you pride yourself in creating boundaries with your clients as to not get too emotionally involved? Have you improved your active listening skills over the years?
"My greatest strength as a social worker is my active listening skills. Utilizing my active listening no only shows the patient that I'm focused on them but it allows me to get the information that I need in order to appropriately diagnose and help the patient."
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."
The work of a Social Worker is never ending. You may find yourself working overtime, weekends or even evenings. If you are flexible with your schedule let the interviewer know. If you are strictly a 9-5 you'll have to have good justification. The important thing to relay to the interviewer is that you have good time management skills. Do you work evenings simply because that is the only time your clients can meet? Have you found yourself working weekends due to emergencies? There is always a special occasion to work outside of your normal hours. Make sure you let the interviewer know that you are able to leave work at work and pick it up the next day.
"I'm very flexible with my schedule. I've found that evenings and weekends are sometimes better with my clients. If flexibility is needed in this job we can work together to create a schedule that works best for the clients and the office."
"I do have flexibility in my schedule. If it is possible to give me a few days notice it would work best with my schedule at home."
As a Social Worker, you are a member of an elite group of helping professionals. You may work with individuals, couples, families or small groups. Social Workers help patients with problems such as poverty, abuse, addiction, unemployment, educational problems, disability, trauma and mental illness. Social workers provide individual, family and group counseling, case management services connecting clients with resources and service providers, and other services to empower clients to meet their own needs. As a Social Worker you help patients identify internal struggles, help them examine their relationships, family structure, community environment, and the systems and policies that impact them to identify ways to help address challenges. Social workers use a strengths-based approach while counseling patients. This technique suggests that individuals have strengths and resources and the social worker’s role is to help build upon a person’s skills and support systems.
As a Social Worker your patients and schedule can be demanding. Flexibility and patience go hand and hand in this career field. Knowing how to prioritize and complete several tasks at once is crucial to getting things done in an effective and efficient manner as a Social Worker. Your passion and empathy will show during your counseling sessions when you go the extra mile to empower others to lead healthier, more productive lives.
During your interview, it will be important to know your target population. Do your homework before this interview to know exactly what position you are interviewing for and what type of clients you'll be working with. The interviewer will be interested to know how you made an impact at your last job. Have a few short stories handy to share with the interviewer. By using the STAR method, you can cover all your bases as you would in a counseling session. Situation: Briefly describe the situation. Task: Point out the desired goal. Action: Share the steps you took to achieve the objective. Result: Describe the positive outcome. You can also share if there were lessons learned from the situation and how it impacted your last job.