8 Social Worker Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)
By Indeed Editorial Team
Published 4 May 2022
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
The day-to-day activities of a social worker generally involve everything from counselling and advocacy to reporting about social issues. They help individuals, families and communities lead a better quality of life. If you are interested in becoming a social worker, you can benefit from knowing the type of questions you may face during an interview for this role. In this article, we outline some commonly asked social worker interview questions, discuss how to answer them and share sample answers for each of them.
Commonly Asked Social Worker Interview Questions
Here are a few social worker interview questions you can expect, along with their sample answers to help you prepare for your interview:
1. What kind of social work have you done before?
The interviewer might ask you about yourself first or directly get to this question. In either case, ensure that your answer is relevant to the job. Give the interviewer an overview of your interest in social work and your range of experience. If you have any quantifiable achievements, remember to include them in your answer.
Example answer: "I have had an aptitude for serving people since a young age. I started serving meals for the homeless in our local Seva Ghar when I was eighteen. Since then, I have worked for various institutions like Jeevan Bachao Samiti and KITE Foundation to help people suffering from hunger and malnutrition issues. Later on, I joined the HGFR government hospital, where I created 25 treatment plans and worked with 19 clients in two years. My treatment plans have achieved 90% success so far."
2. Why are you interested in working for our organisation?
Every social work agency or NGO works towards a special cause and might have a significant history of achievements. They want to hire somebody who associates with their cause and appreciates the work they have done so far. Do your due research about the organisation beforehand. In your answer, point out features that truly make you want to work for this organisation.
Example answer: "I think the Smile and Live Foundation is one of the best NGOs in the nation, providing care for the HIV/AIDS population. Organisations providing specialised care and free treatment for AIDS patients are rare. Your initiative to educate school children regarding AIDS to remove all social stigma around it is remarkable. SALF has built up a community of AIDS patients who can form support groups and share their mutual mental struggles. I want to be part of such a revolutionary NGO and serve AIDS patients to the best of my ability."
3. Our agency serves the low socio-economic population. What makes you interested in serving them?
Just like in other jobs, social work professionals can also have certain specialisations. This can be in certain demographics, like children, the LGBTQ+ community, senior citizens, youth and families. It may also be regarding pertinent issues like child labour, addiction, violence against women or terminal illnesses. To highlight your expertise in an area, mention certain statistical figures and ways you want to be of help.
Example answer: "More than 7% of the country's population is living in extreme poverty. That is around 97 million people who do not have access to shelter, food, education, healthcare and work opportunities. I feel this is the most urgent issue for the country.
People below 20 years of age are often the worst hit, which can lead to a generation of youth having malnutrition and illiteracy. Poverty is the root cause of many other social issues, like violence, mental health problems and addiction. If I can serve this population and make even a small impact on a few people's lives, I would consider that my purpose as a social worker is fulfilled."
4. In your opinion, what kind of clients are the most difficult to work with?
Staying positive despite all challenges is an important skill for social work professionals. When answering this question, try to be positive about the client. Take a more empathetic approach and talk about understanding why some clients may be more difficult. Display your dedication towards providing help despite unfavourable circumstances. Mention your learnings from such experiences.
Example answer: "Personally, I find it difficult to work with substance abusers. Fighting addiction can be challenging, and substance abusers often lose out on support from friends and family. Giving up and going back to addiction is a recurring pattern in these cases.
But when I can support and motivate such clients through these issues and they can finally overcome their addiction, it is an equally gratifying experience. Understanding a substance abuser's story and providing concrete solutions is typically the best course. My experience with such cases has taught me to be patient and trust the process."
5. Share some of your crisis intervention strategies.
Crisis intervention is the process to identify, assess and intervene a person in crisis, to ease the effect of the crisis and restore balance in their life. Crisis can be in several forms, like domestic violence, child abuse, economic crisis, lack of community resources and natural disasters. If you have a specific process you follow, mention it. Otherwise, you can also give an example of a time you helped someone in crisis.
Example answer: "I follow a seven-step crisis intervention procedure. This involves assessing the immediate threat, forming a collaborative relationship with the victim, identifying the core cause of the problem, sharing emotions, discussing ways to cope, executing a plan and scheduling a follow-up. This method works 95% of the time.
While I was working in a women's shelter in the city, a woman was brought in who showed several signs of mental trauma due to domestic issues. She reached the shelter for help. I assured her of safety and arranged for medical treatment. Having identified it was not safe for her to return home immediately, I contacted a local women's counselling and empowerment centre and arranged for a two-week stay there. I discussed all the details with her and followed up next week to see that she was recovering well."
6. How would you handle an aggressive or uncooperative patient?
Instead of directly asking about your social working skills, the interviewer may present you with a situational question like this one. In this answer, you can display your patience and conflict resolution skills. You can even give an example of a time you successfully handled a similar situation.
Example answer: "As a social worker, I have found that upset patients often have unmet needs or complaints that are not heard. My approach is to always take enough time to ask appropriate empathetic questions and listen effectively. I may rephrase their sentences and speak calmly without taking any personal offence to their behaviour. It is important to show the patient that I am with them and not against them. Above all, I would always adhere to my training and hospital protocols to reach a successful outcome."
7. How would you maintain a work-life balance, given the day-to-day responsibilities of this role?
Social work typically involves a lot of responsibilities, from interviews and report-making to fieldwork and supervision. The interviewer wants to know that you are aware of the work pressure and would continue to work happily. Assure them by pointing out the responsibilities of the job and showing how you can have a satisfactory personal life despite it.
Example answer: "I understand my days are going to be full of work, from attending meetings with clients and external agencies to making assessments, suggestions and records. Working overtime might be a possibility sometimes. My family knows that my work life can be hectic and they are supportive. I have a well-organised support system in place which lets me stay committed at work and enjoy my leisure time when I am at home."
8. Why have you chosen this profession?
Social workers are generally not in this profession for the paycheck and interviewers are aware of that. While wanting to help society and create a difference are good reasons, it is better to be a little more specific when answering this question. Share what motivates you to choose a particular line of social work. Try sharing a relevant story from your past.
Example answer: "As an individual from a low-income family, I have often required social help in the past. Our family received ration supplies and financial help from a local NGO. I even received financial aid for funding my higher education. I know what it is like to feel helpless. Had it not been for the help I received early on, I would not be sitting here today. I consider social work to be my way of giving back to the community. It is an essential duty as a citizen towards those who are less fortunate."
Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are associated with Indeed.
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