Updated on August 21st, 2018 | Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.
Question 1 of 30
Tell me about a time when you had to make a difficult decision.
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As a youth worker, you will need to be able to think and act quickly! Your supervisor may not always be around, so it will be your responsibility to handle conflict as it arises. You may face decisions about discipline or whether or not to honor certain privileges or requests. Trust your instincts! You will want to explain to the interviewer, "I am confident and prepared to face challenging situations that require me to be firm in my decision-making." Provide an example that demonstrates your ability to navigate situations by trusting your gut and taking action!
"I am confident and prepared to face challenging situations that require me to be firm in my decision-making."
Community Answers with Professional Feedback
"My experience has afforded me opportunities to learn how to be firm with my decision-making skills. For example, when I was working in a residential housing facility that housed vulnerable populations living with addiction and mental health challenges. I was helping a resident fill out his disability assistance form. I soon noticed that his energy levels were regressing and that he was drifting off to sleep. When I asked him how he's feeling, he responded that he was fine. Despite him being somewhat responsive, I suspected an opioid overdose; therefore, I reached out to another staff member to call 911 and notify authorities so that I could administer a naloxone shot.
In the end, it was determined that this resident did in fact, overdose."
Rachelle Enns' Professional Opinion:
Wow - what an experience and certainly good action on your part. This example is intense but also does an excellent job explaining how well you think on your feet, and the fact that you are very attentive.
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How would you respond if a child became physically aggressive with you?
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If you plan to work at a youth center, it's possible you may encounter aggressive behavior. If you have ever worked with high-risk youth, specifically adolescents or teens, you understand the importance of being on guard in case rough or aggressive behavior occurs. When you give an example, be sure to share your take on establishing healthy boundaries and how you would respond if the line was crossed. You may start by saying, "I would act quickly and calmly to protect myself and the child from harm." As a youth worker, you are responsible for the children in your program. The interviewer wants to feel confident that you will maintain a calm environment whenever possible, and that you can handle altercations with care and compassion.
"I would act quickly and calmly to protect myself and the child from harm."
How do you respond when you notice signs of drug abuse?
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Part of your responsibility as a youth worker is to pay attention to signs before they become a problem. You will need to know what to look out for so that you can step in to help before it's too late! When it is past the point of prevention, you will also need to know how to respond. When you answer this question, take a thoughtful, proactive approach. You want to show the interviewer that you are prepared for these types of situations. If you're not quite sure what to do, reflect on your education and volunteer experience.
Tell me about a time when you influenced the outcome of a project by taking a leadership role.
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The interviewer wants to hear about a positive experience you have had with leadership. Think about a time when you led a sports team, led a college project, managed a store, or coached a little league team. These are all great examples! Start off by giving the interviewer a high-level overview of what you were leading, and share that you enjoyed the experience. Discuss the positive outcome that the group had, and explain that you would gladly lead again!
Do you work well on a team or do you prefer to work on your own?
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When an interviewer asks a question like this, they are really interested in two things:
1) Are you flexible?
2) Can you manage yourself?
As a youth worker, you will need to collaborate with your team when planning, organizing and participating in group activities. Working on a team requires you to be open and adaptive to working with people who are different from you. They may have different opinions and work styles. Even while working on a team you will need to be able to manage yourself by managing your time and prioritizing tasks just as you would when working alone. You might consider responding with, "I enjoy working on a team because I love getting input from my coworkers, but I also enjoy working independently." You can even share an example of a good experience you had when working on a team when you were volunteering or in your most job.
"I enjoy working on a team because I love getting input from my coworkers, but I also enjoy working independently."
6. Do you have any experience mentoring youth? "When I was in college I volunteered with Big Brothers Big Sisters. It was so rewarding to know I was making a difference in a child's life. The little girl I was matched with brought me so much sunshine and I learned so much from the experience."
As a youth worker, you play an important role in the lives of children. If you have experience as a mentor, discuss how that relationship impacted you. The interviewer is interested in what you learned and how you may have influenced the child. Be specific by sharing details about your interactions, whether they be activities you enjoyed together or conversations you had. Here is an answer example: "When I was in college I volunteered with Big Brothers Big Sisters. It was so rewarding to know I was making a difference in a child's life. The little girl I was matched with brought me so much sunshine and I learned so much from the experience."7. What activities have you led in the past? "I worked as a youth leader for middle school kids at a church. I facilitated sports and games. One game we often played as an icebreaker was called 'Two truths and a lie,' and that always brought kids out of their shell. I try to keep activities fun, light and active, making sure everyone participates!"
Youth workers often run activities for programs that may range from outdoor education to environmental projects. You will need to be able to adapt each activity to cater to the needs of the youth. The goal with these activities is keeping the kids engaged. Give an example that demonstrates your ability to manage large groups and motivate kids to participate! Here is an answer example: "I worked as a youth leader for middle school kids at a church. I facilitated sports and games. One game we often played as an icebreaker was called 'Two truths and a lie,' and that always brought kids out of their shell. I try to keep activities fun, light and active, making sure everyone participates!"8. How would you assess the needs of the youth in our programs? Some organizations may have strict methods for measuring the participants in their programs. Your role is to be observant and maintain accuracy in your notes. Some programs will require you to complete reports at the end of the day that they can use when monitoring or reviewing the quality of the program to make sure it is, in fact, supporting the youth. These assessments can be helpful when making changes to policies or the design of the program. If your role is focused on program design, you may want to talk about surveys or questionnaires you have implemented in the past. The interviewer will want to hear about results, so be prepared to discuss how and why your assessments were successful! Here is an answer example: 9. How do you respond to stress? Give me an example. "When I was working for a youth empowerment program as a volunteer coordinator, the program director left and I was asked to take over their responsibilities while they looked for a replacement. It was incredibly stressful, but the situation taught me how to manage my time and better organize myself. I started integrating mindfulness practices to stay calm under stress."
You can use an example from work, school or your volunteer experience to address this question. Be sure to focus your answer on your response to stress rather than the situation itself. It's kind of like when you're talking about problems you solved; always better to not focus so much on the actual problem. You can also share what you learned and practices you have adopted to help you navigate the challenge of stress. Here is an answer example: "When I was working for a youth empowerment program as a volunteer coordinator, the program director left and I was asked to take over their responsibilities while they looked for a replacement. It was incredibly stressful, but the situation taught me how to manage my time and better organize myself. I started integrating mindfulness practices to stay calm under stress."10. What ideas do you have for our youth programs? Youth workers are responsible for guiding and facilitating programs, including prevention and intervention programs. These could be centered around health and group fitness or supporting youth who may be at-risk to get involved in gangs, drugs or violence. Do your research to learn as much as you can about the organization. You will want to know about the youth they serve and the types of programs that support those groups. If you have facilitated group activities in the past, you can draw from that experience when thinking about a new idea that might work well for the organization. You can talk about any volunteer or work experience serving in your community that would be relevant. Here is an answer example: 11. How do you respond in a crisis situation? "I am observant and always ready if a child acts out. The safety of my kids is of utmost importance, and I take action to quickly dissolve conflict before it gets out of hand."
The interviewer wants to know that you will be prepared in a time of crisis. The crisis could be anything from violent language to bullying and violent behavior. If an interviewer asks about crisis management right off the bat, then you can likely anticipate that these situations might occur. Share any training you have received as well as an example of how you have dealt with a crisis in the past. If you have limited experience, do some research to find out more about the demographic you will be serving and the types of problems you might experience when working with them. Here is an answer example: "I am observant and always ready if a child acts out. The safety of my kids is of utmost importance, and I take action to quickly dissolve conflict before it gets out of hand."12. What would you do to de-escalate a situation that is getting out of control? "When I was working for an after-school care program, some kids were bullying one of the other children. When I overheard that the child was being physically threatened, I acted immediately. I separated the children, ensuring the safety of the one child and taking the time to speak firmly with the ones who were making fun of him. I explained the consequences and let them know what might happen if this situation were to occur again."
Communication skills are key to calming a heated situation between kids or adults. If someone is in danger, you will need to know how to respond. Share a specific example and any tips you have learned to calm stressful situations. If discipline was involved, be prepared to explain your approach. Here is an answer example: "When I was working for an after-school care program, some kids were bullying one of the other children. When I overheard that the child was being physically threatened, I acted immediately. I separated the children, ensuring the safety of the one child and taking the time to speak firmly with the ones who were making fun of him. I explained the consequences and let them know what might happen if this situation were to occur again."13. What qualities are important to you in a supervisor? Think about your ideal boss. You may have worked with them in the past. Maybe they believed in you when you were discouraged. Perhaps they supported you by training you in a new skill that has helped you in your career. As a youth worker, you will need all the support you can get from your supervisor! It can be challenging to work with kids, especially if they are high-risk or disabled. Managers who are motivating and compassionate leaders will help you be the most effective at your job. To prepare for this question, make a list of the traits you have admired in past managers. Here is an answer example: 14. Tell me about your volunteer experience. Your volunteer experience is equally important to your work experience and education. You can share a little bit about your responsibilities and the organizations you worked with. You can also talk about how you made an impact and what you learned. You may have served as an administrator or a coordinator. Perhaps you were doing manual labor. Share your motivation to get involved to give the interviewer a better impression of your passion for the cause! Here is an answer example: 15. What do you do to promote healthy communication and social skills? "I think it's important to lead by example. I make a point to engage the kids in conversations and get to know them. I strive to show them how much I care through my words and actions."
Your interactions with the youth will set the standard for what you expect from them. As a leader, you will need to choose your words wisely. You are an influencer! If you have any specific activities that you have found helpful, share them! The interviewer wants to feel confident with you serving as a guide and a mentor for the kids. Give them an example that demonstrates how you can be trusted in this role. Here is an answer example: "I think it's important to lead by example. I make a point to engage the kids in conversations and get to know them. I strive to show them how much I care through my words and actions."16. How do you deal with unmotivated kids? "When I worked at a halfway house for teens, the kids were extremely apathetic and unmotivated. I made sure that I got to know each kid to find out their interests and their strengths. I coached them and encouraged them to set reasonable goals, identifying the steps it will take to achieve them."
The job of a youth worker isn't easy! In order for you to encourage others, you will need to stay motivated yourself! Share what you do to stay positive and how it helps you lead the kids in the right direction! Here is an answer example: "When I worked at a halfway house for teens, the kids were extremely apathetic and unmotivated. I made sure that I got to know each kid to find out their interests and their strengths. I coached them and encouraged them to set reasonable goals, identifying the steps it will take to achieve them."17. Can you pass a background check? Make sure you are clear on all of the requirements for the job before you interview. When an interviewer asks this question, it's best to be completely honest. If you think something might show up, tell them. Even if you had a misdemeanor that has been expunged from when you were being irresponsible at 17, you will want to share it just in case. Depending on how strict the organization is, those wild teenage days may not matter. Be honest in the interview to show that you have integrity. If the answer is "no," share the incident and what you have learned since then to show how you have changed and grown. Here is an answer example: "no,"18. How do you manage relationships with parents? In your role as a youth worker, you may find yourself dealing with difficult parents. Your job is to stay positive and be constructive when you receive negative feedback or comments. You may wish that the parents could be more involved so that you wouldn't have to play babysitter or deal with the results of poor parenting. But as a leader, you are always thinking about what you can do instead of getting bogged down about what's missing. Here is an answer example: "I am patient with the parents in the same way that I am with the kids in my program."19. How do you respond to negative feedback from a supervisor or parent? As a youth worker, you will receive feedback from your boss, your peers, parents and even the kids you work with. Regardless of how reasonable or accurate the observation may be, think before you speak! Be humble and don't take it personally. Depending on who the criticism is coming from, you will want to approach it differently. If it's coming from your boss, you will want to respond respectfully, saying something like, "I appreciate the feedback. Now I know how I can improve next time." If it's coming from a parent, you may want to tell them, "I am so glad you noticed! I'll make the changes right away." You may have a similar response, but the key is to stay calm and never express frustration towards the person. Give an example where you stayed professional when someone gave you negative feedback. If there was something you needed to change or do differently in the future, you responded promptly: "I completely understand where you're coming from. I'll care of it right away!" Here is an answer example: "I appreciate the feedback. Now I know how I can improve next time."20. If hired, how do you intend on making a difference with the youth? "I am passionate about social justice and providing a safe and encouraging environment for the kids. I will listen and support the kids in every way possible, being a role model and a guide to empower them to improve their lives."
This question gives you an opportunity to share your qualities and skills that will positively impact the kids. Your ability to engage the youth in activities and motivate them through your encouragement and kind words will make all the difference! Share your strengths! Here is an answer example: "I am passionate about social justice and providing a safe and encouraging environment for the kids. I will listen and support the kids in every way possible, being a role model and a guide to empower them to improve their lives."21. Tell me about a time when you led a team. What worked well? What would you improve? Think about how your leadership has made a difference in the past. Start off by telling the interviewer about the team, who was involved, and your leadership style. For example, you may have been the captain of your soccer team. You may have led by example, staying positive and persevering under pressure. You may have also coached others on the team when they were feeling discouraged or needed guidance. When talking about what you would improve, you can share feedback you received or talk about what you would do differently after experiencing resistance or conflict. You want to show off your leadership skills, so be sure to focus on the positive and take a humble approach to show that you can handle constructive criticism! Here is an answer example: 22. What is your greatest weakness? What are you doing to improve it? No one enjoys talking about their weaknesses. It can feel uncomfortable and vulnerable to share about aspects of yourself that you could improve. Don't fret! The interviewer wants to hear that you are self-aware and proactive about making changes. Maybe you are so passionate about what you do that you overlook the details. To improve, you are making efforts to manage your time better, prioritize and pay attention to detail. Sometimes a positive quality can be detrimental if you're not careful! Be sure to focus on what you're doing to improve, rather than focusing on the problem area. Here is an answer example: 23. What is your greatest strength? This is the time to sell yourself. Your strengths are skills or traits that make you good at your job. Review the job description to see if they have listed any specific qualities they want from an applicant. Being resilient, enthusiastic and trustworthy are all strengths worth sharing for this type of role. Next, talk about how you use this strength in the workplace! Your resilience helps you persevere through challenges. Being enthusiastic motivates others and helps you engage the kids in activities. Whatever your strength may be, link it back to how it positively impacts your work environment. Here is an answer example: 24. Where do you see yourself in five years? The interviewer wants to find out if you think about the future when you think about your job as a youth worker. It's important to have some professional goals. If you don't have a clue about where you want to be in five years just yet, take some time to think about it! Your goals can be as simple as, "I want to be an Executive Director or a non-profit," or, "I want to learn more about program management and design." Focus your response on ways that the position you're interviewing for will help you to achieve this goal. Think about some of the other steps you'll need to take in order to get there. Identify how this position will equip you with the skills and experience you need to be successful! Here is an answer example: "I want to be an Executive Director or a non-profit,"25. What do you know about our organization? Do your research! You can start by visiting their website and reviewing their mission, events and program information. Watch the videos on their website, and take note of the information on their "Careers" page if one is available. As you review the website, take notes! Anything that sparks your attention is worth jotting down. You can bring your notes to the interview, which will demonstrate your interest and investment in the organization. You want the interviewer to be impressed by your knowledge. Above all, you want to show them that you really want the job! Take at least an hour to research and learn as much as you can about the organization. Here is an answer example: "Careers"26. Do you have experience working with high-risk youth? Make sure you know about the demographic you will be serving in this role. The last thing you want to do is walk into the interview overly confident about something you know very little about. If you are working with high-risk youth, be prepared to discuss how you handle behavioral or mental health issues. You will also want to be prepared to discuss your take prevention of drug and alcohol abuse. High-risk youth are considered at risk of getting involved in violence, drug or sexual abuse, so prevention is typically the focus of programs for this demographic. If you have experience, talk about the programs you have participated in or facilitated. Talk about how they were effective and share your role, whether it be running activities or reviewing the quality of the program. Here is an answer example: 27. How do you handle conflict with coworkers? "I think the most important thing is to listen first. I approach each situation with a humble attitude and make sure not to take anything personally. Communication is important, but listening is the first step towards a peaceful resolution!"
Working so closely with your team, it's inevitable that you will have moments where you're not getting along swimmingly. Whether you are dealing with gossip or disagreements, you will need to be prepared! Explain your approach to conflict, and consider giving an example from your experience. Think about those small yet significant ways you maintain those work relationships. Here is an answer example: "I think the most important thing is to listen first. I approach each situation with a humble attitude and make sure not to take anything personally. Communication is important, but listening is the first step towards a peaceful resolution!" Here is an anonymous answer example: "i think the most important thing is to be mindful of the fact that there is a context to the conflict and therefore start to approach it from a place of compassion. for me, i tend to not take things personally because i'm more interested in understanding where the person is coming from, and communicating what my intentions are.
for example, when i was doing work in the htes to support residents, this one staff had a different approach in getting residents to cooperate with the rules of the building. his approach was to enforce and create consequences that did not resonate with me wholeheartedly.
there was a time where a resident kept on leaving her bike outside of her suite which was a hazard and therefore against the rules of the building. i spoke with the resident to understand why she was unwilling to bring the bike into her suite. the staff member was not happy with the approach and wanted me to enforce the rules rather than to try and understand her perspective; after listening to him i realized that he wanted the residents to be accountable for their actions and in his perspective, i was taking on more of a supportive role.
i communicated with him that i intended to try and understand the perspective of the residents to reflect and brainstorms potential solutions to this problem.
he let me know that it was important that in this process, i let the residents know that their actions go against the rules of the building and through this conversation we both realized that it was important to explain to the residents why leaving personal belongings outside of the suite is a hazard.
through listening, i took what he had to say as valuable feedback and i reflected on how my approach can grow to incorporate both accountabilities with support." In response to the anonymous answer example, here is what Rachelle Enns said: It sounds as though you handled this difference of opinion very well, taking into account all sides. My feedback would be to be aware of repetitive sentences. Try pairing down the response and practicing it a bit so that you have just the facts that you need, for an interview :) I have provided an example, below. In response to the anonymous answer example, here is a revised answer from Rachelle Enns: "It's important to be mindful that there is a context to all conflict. For that reason, I approach conflict from a place of compassion. When I was working in the DTES to support residents, one staff member and I had a difference of opinion when it came to consequences for residents who did not cooperate with the rules of the building. One resident, in particular, would always leave her bike outside of her suite. I wanted to reason with her and understand why she kept doing that, but my coworker wanted to hand down consequences right away. He and I came to an understanding, and I learned that his approach of firmly enforcing the rules was better for the safety of everyone living in the building."28. Tell me about your leadership experience. "I strive to be a role model for my coworkers and my kids. When I led expeditions at Outward Bound, I was encouraging and motivating to help those around me. Whenever we faced obstacles, I was reliable and resourceful, always problem-solving and thinking positively."
Think about the times you led a team. Maybe you led a team at work, led a youth sports team, or led a local professional group. You can share detail like the size of the group, significant interactions, and activities you led as well. The interviewer wants to hear that you are confident in a leadership role and that you will be able to serve as a source of support and guidance for others. Here is an answer example: "I strive to be a role model for my coworkers and my kids. When I led expeditions at Outward Bound, I was encouraging and motivating to help those around me. Whenever we faced obstacles, I was reliable and resourceful, always problem-solving and thinking positively."29. How do you manage your emotions on the job? When the kids get out of control and you feel the frustration boiling, you better check yourself before your wreck yourself! It will be important for you to be able to calm yourself down. Managing stress can be tricky, especially if you are dealing with frequent intense situations. The interviewer wants to hear about helpful tips that keep you grounded. Coping techniques like deep breathing, meditation, and giving yourself a break by taking a walk or stepping outside for a brief moment are all ways you can manage your emotions on the job. Take a breath and reflect on what works best for you! Here is an answer example: 30. What individual has had the greatest influence on you? "My grandmother inspired me to volunteer. She worked for a non-profit to help develop programs for youth struggling with mental health issues. She was so strong and driven--I wanted to be just like her!"
Give the interviewer some insight into your world and talk about the greatest mentor and influencer in your life. It could be anyone from a family member to a coach or even a celebrity. Take some time before your interview to reflect on this person and what they did to make a difference in your life. Here is an answer example: "My grandmother inspired me to volunteer. She worked for a non-profit to help develop programs for youth struggling with mental health issues. She was so strong and driven--I wanted to be just like her!"
Writers for Youth Worker Answers and Questions
Rachelle Enns is a job search expert, executive headhunter, career catalyst, and interview coach. Utilized by top talent from Fortune companies like Microsoft, General Electric, and Nestle, she helps professionals position themselves in today's competitive digital marketplace.
Rachelle founded Renovate My Resume and Executive Resume Solutions, two companies focused on helping job seekers get their edge back. She helps everyone from new graduates looking for their first placement, to CEO's who want more out of their career.
Rachelle coaches students to executives on how to master the toughest interview questions and how to handle the most bizarre interview situations; all with confidence and poise.
Rachelle trains other career coaches, recruiters, and resume writers, globally. A big part of her job is also spent coaching HR professionals on how to bring the human touch back into their interview and hiring process.
Elisabeth Walter has over five years of experience in the corporate recruiting world. More recently, she has been freelance writing for the past two years. You can reach out to Elisabeth by visiting her LinkedIn profile, at https://www.linkedin.com/in/elisabethwalter/
First written on: 05/21/2013 Last modified on: 08/21/2018
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