Social Work Interview Questions and Tips for Answering

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If you're interviewing for a job as a social worker, it’s always a good idea to take the time to prepare in advance.

Before your interview, you'll want to be ready to answer common interview questions that anyone can expect during a job interview. But you should also prepare for questions that are more specific to social workers. 

During an interview for a social worker role—whether the job is in a clinic, school, or elsewhere—you can anticipate that you'll be asked about your skills and experience, your specific knowledge of social work theories or modalities, and how you'd handle specific situations that might come up. 

The more you think through your responses in advance, the more confident you'll feel during the interview.

Read on for frequently asked questions, advice on the best way to respond to questions, and tips on how to ace an interview for a social work job.

Social Work Interview Questions

To get you started, here are several commonly asked interview questions:

  • What do you hope to accomplish as a social worker?
  • Why did you go into social work? 
  • Our agency serves XYZ population. What interests you about serving this population?
  • How do you feel about supervision? What type of supervision do you prefer?
  • What made you apply for a role with our organization? 
  • How do you balance your work and personal life?
  • What types of clients do you find the most difficult to work with, and why?
  • What types of strategies do you use to engage clients? 
  • What are some of your biggest accomplishments in your fieldwork?
  • Tell me about the most difficult case you have worked on.
  • How do you handle high-pressure situations? 
  • Tell me about something you would do differently in the management of one of your previous fieldwork cases.
  • Have you ever been faced with an ethical conflict in your experience as a social worker? How did you handle the situation?
  • Tell me about a time when you disagreed with someone over a treatment plan. What was the disagreement, and how was it resolved?
  • How would you locate resources for clients in a community in which you have no relationships?
  • Imagine a client walked into a session with you and appeared to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. What would you do?
  • What would you do if a client had a psychotic outburst in the waiting room?
  • What techniques do you use in crisis intervention?
  • What are your opinions on the current welfare system?
  • Where do you think the field of social work is heading in the next five years?
  • What is your theoretical orientation regarding family therapy?

Questions to Ask the Interviewer

Be prepared when the interviewer asks, "Do you have any questions for me?" You should have several in mind, since some questions may naturally get answered during the course of the interview. Some questions you might ask include: 

  • What's a typical day like in this role? 
  • What's the caseload for social workers here? 
  • Tell me about the training period for this role. 
  • Who will provide supervision? And, is that person licensed? 
  • What are you looking for in candidates for this role? 
  • What would you expect from the person hired for this role in their first 30 or 90 days? 

Tips for Interviewing for Social Work Jobs

Social work employers evaluate how you interact in an interview just as much as they evaluate what you have to say. Practice interviewing with career counselors and advisors to refine your approach and get some feedback.

Showcase Your Credentials

Make a list of the qualities and relevant skills you possess that make you an effective social worker. For each asset, think of a specific time when you demonstrated that quality in a work or volunteer role. Emphasize interactive challenges that you have met, difficult people with whom you have connected, and how you've influenced others to change.

Share Your Experience

Interviewers will probably ask you to reflect on your clinical or casework experience as well as your clinical philosophy and approach. They'll also likely ask questions about your most challenging cases and how you handled them. Be prepared to answer all these kinds of questions.

Research the Organization

Also, be sure to research the company for which you're interviewing. Your interviewers will probably ask you why you're interested in working for their organization and the population they serve.

How to Follow Up After the Interview

Effective follow-up is an essential step in securing a job offer. To that end, make sure to write a thank-you note. Aim to send your note(s) within 24 hours of your interview, if possible. 

TIP: Make sure you write personalized communications for each of your interviewers.

In each thank-you email or letter, clearly state your high level of interest in the position, why you think it is a good fit, and your appreciation for the interview opportunity. If possible, mention something unique that you learned from each interviewer that heightened your interest.

Address any concerns that may have surfaced about your candidacy, if you think the information will reassure your interviewers.

Key Takeaways

  • Spend time preparing before an interview. By practicing your responses, you'll be able to answer questions with confidence. Plus, you'll be prepared when the interviewer turns the tables, asking for you to share your own questions. 
  • Come prepared with examples from previous roles of how you've handled situations, both ordinary and challenging. 
  • Review the job ad and research the organization, so you're prepared to give responses that speak to the role, and organization, at hand.