Eight questions you are likely to be asked in a social work job interview

You have no doubt chosen to pursue a career as a social worker because you want to make a difference. You need to be able to demonstrate you are the right person for the job to a potential employer in an interview.
Some social worker interview questions come up time and time again, so what’s the best way to answer them? We have put together a list of typical questions you could be asked, with expert tips on how to answer them.

How would you prioritise your caseload?

Craig Davis, head of social work at Sanctuary Social Care: “Try and have one or two examples that show how you had to make an important decision while managing caseloads in previous roles. This will show how adaptable you are at managing your time and meeting the needs of service users.”

Nadia El Atrash, senior recruitment consultant at Hays Social Care: “You should talk about the tools and strategies you use to deal with a busy workload, showing that you are aware of the need to prioritise to key deadlines and that you communicate well with your managers and peers to manage your workload.”

Could you give me an example of a complex child protection case you were involved with?

El Atrash: “You should give a relevant example and be concise and clear in your answer, focusing on the actions you took and the resulting outcomes. A strong answer will demonstrate your understanding of child protection issues, show you know the desired outcomes from the case and explain clearly the actions you took. Practice using (situation, task, action, result) technique when answering questions.”

What do you know about working for our local authority?

Davis: “This question presents you with the opportunity to express how much you already know about the local
demographic. Research your local authority. Explore the social care element on its website, check for press coverage and read any recent Ofsted reports. They might be known for specific models of working or may have piloted landmark projects. If you acknowledge this in your interview, it demonstrates a strong appreciation for the type of work involved. It is also worth checking to see if the relevant director of service or a senior manager has been interviewed in the media.

“This question also provides you with a chance to ask the interviewer more about a specific project or model of working. You might, for example, wish to ask about the systems they have in place to facilitate multi-agency working.”

Could you tell us about how you approach case recording?

El Atrash: “Your interviewer will be looking for an answer that shows you can work in a timely fashion with an evidence-based approach. Emphasise your understanding of meeting legal requirements and draw on relevant examples of successful case recording.”

What pieces of legislation would you say are relevant to the role?

Davis: “Preparation is key. Review relevant legislation and policy, and consider current debates too, but try to avoid
discussions around party politics. What an employer is looking for is an understanding of your legal obligations as a social worker.

Tell us about something you are proud of in your social work career?

Davis: “Here is your chance to show how you are the best candidate for the position. Use stories of how you have managed complex cases. Bring in examples of how you assess and address risk, and try to cover which models of practice and methodo-logy you use and why.”

How do you make sure you are on top of your continuing professional deve-lopment ?

Davis: “Be as open as possible and remember that everybody learns in different ways. There is no textbook answer, but be ready with two or three examples and show how a particular activity or course helped with your CPD. Crucially, employers are looking for an indication of how your CPD has broadened your skill set and how this is of benefit to the role.”

Do you have any questions for us?

Catrina Garner, recruitment consultant and marketing manager at 4SocialWork: “This is always a good opportunity to show you have done your research while showing a genuine interest in the job. Ask questions that emphasise what you already know about the role you have applied for.