Looking for a new job as a social worker – no matter whether it’s your first job or your 10th – is stressful.
Preparing and practicing for your interview can help you feel more confident and less stressed. Below, I’ve listed some general social work interview questions. However, social work is a broad field, so the interview questions can vary a lot depending on the type of social work you practice, setting, and your level of experience. So, I encourage you to use these as a starting place and try to adapt them to the particular social work job you’re applying for.
Social Work Interview Questions
- Why did you decide to become a social worker? What drew you to the profession?
- What do you find to be the most satisfying aspects of being a social worker? What do you find to be the hardest aspects?
- How do you define success?
- How do you approach working with people with a culture, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender identity that’s different than your own?
- Tell me about a time you worked effectively with a client.
- Tell me about a time you weren’t effective with a client.
- How do you define professional boundaries?
- How would you handle a client following you on social media?
- How would you handle a client serving you a meal during a homevisit?
- How would you handle a client giving you an expensive bottle of perfume?
- How would you handle a client (or supervisor) calling you “sweetheart”?
- How do you keep track of or organize your paperwork and deadlines?
- What theoretical orientations or interventions do you use?
- What does it mean to be non-judgmental?
- Tell me how you assess for suicidality and what you would do with a suicidal client.
- We routinely make home visits. Why do you think it’s important to make home visits?
- Sometimes we have to work with clients that push our buttons or who have very different beliefs or values than we do. How would you handle a client who makes racist jokes? Or a client who supports a political candidate that you strongly oppose?
- How do you deal with counter-transference?
- What do feel will be your biggest challenge working with ________________ [clients served by this organization]?
- How would you try to engage with a teenage client who refuses to talk in session?
- How do you avoid burn out or compassion fatigue?
- Tell me about a conflict or disagreement that you had with a coworker or manager and how you handled it.
- What do you think would help social workers be more effective?
Preparing for a social work interview
You may want to prepare for your interview by writing answers to these questions, practicing them in front of a mirror, making a video of yourself answering them, or having a friend or colleague conduct a mock interview with you.
You’ll also want to prepare questions to ask your potential employer. Be sure to take a look at their website, social media accounts, and familiarize yourself with their programs, funding sources, and the job description. It’s important to ask well-thought-out questions that show your potential employer that you’re interested enough to research who they are and what they do.
Questions you might ask a potential social work employer
- What can I expect in terms of supervision?
- What training opportunities are available?
- What are the work hours for this position? Are there after-hours or on-call responsibilities?
- How many cases do social workers typically have? What are the other responsibilities for this position?
- Can you tell me about the opportunities for advancement in the organization?
- What qualities are you looking for in an ideal candidate?
- How is this position funded? How long do you expect that funding to be available?
Good luck with your social work job interview and I hope these interview questions help you prepare for a fulfilling social work career.
©2019 Sharon Martin, LCSW. All rights reserved.