Recently I have been approached by a number of budding Social Workers asking for support in relation to their pending interviews and what questions they are likely to be asked.

As I have detailed in my previous blog post 10 Steps from Job Application to Job Interviewyou can often predict or make an ‘educated guess’ as to what the likely questions will be. This is because, as interviewers, we should only ask questions that are relevant to the job role. Therefore, the questions that interviewers will ask can be found in most Job Descriptions or Job Specifications.

Given my role as an interviewer, I have compiled a list of questions that are likely to be asked. I have also added some pointers on how they should be answered.

For example: A Social Work Job Description will often detail that you must have essential experience of undertaking assessments. As such, you are highly likely to be asked a question relating to assessments and what would constitute a ‘good’ assessment.

Below are some of the likely questions you will be asked. Note, you will only be asked one question for each section.

Assessment

  • What is meant by the term ‘good’ assessment?
  • What is the importance of an assessment?
  • What would you include in a ‘good’ assessment?

Answers to consider:

Social Work is an assessment led service. As such effective, holistic and thorough assessments are key to our core business. If we fail to assess appropriately at the beginning then the result will likely be ineffective intervention delivery. This will fail to address the Service User’s needs, welfare or safeguarding concerns.

Highlight how assessment is a never ending process. It is both constant and variable. What I mean by this is that any good social worker will continue to assess a Service User in a variety of settings and throughout the duration of involvement. How they present one day may be very different to the next.

In answering “What would you include in a ‘good’ assessment?”, highlight that you have gathered evidence from a number of sources – e.g. Schools, previous records, previous assessments, home and community groups/settings. Detail how a good assessment will include facts and evidence (narrative), an analysis of this information and a conclusion that focuses on intervention delivery.

Remember, good interventions are the product of good assessments.

Prioritising Workload

  • Why is it important to prioritise Social Work?
  • How would you prioritise your work?
  • What factors would you consider in prioritising your workload?

Answers to consider:

Most interviewers will ask a question involving the prioritisation of work. This is due to workload pressures and (often) high case loads in the world of Social Work. In answering this question, consider factors such as ‘imminent risk’ to the Service User and balance it with the core elements of your role. How do you need to respond? Who should know (e.g. management, family and external professionals)?  For example, prioritising the need to complete a Section 47 Enquiry over a Child In Need visit (although both are important). Highlight that the prioritisation of work should be influenced by the teams guidance and policies. A good one to highlight here is how Social Workers are taught to be autonomous in their thinking. Detail how you would use professional judgement in influencing your decision in prioritising work commitments.

Safeguarding Service Users

  • How would you Safeguard your case load?
  • What factors would you consider when safeguarding Service Users?
  • Why is it important to promote safeguarding and welfare of Service Users?

Answers to consider:

Answers to consider here include an awareness of the policies and guidance that underpins the role you are applying for. For example, an Adults Social Workers ‘remit’ is to promote and safeguard vulnerable adults assessed as in need. Detail what would contribute as safeguarding issues – such as a lack of support from primary and secondary relationships (family/peers), their diversity needs and capacity to make decisions. A good answer here will also include how Social Workers adhere to the HCPC Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics. These standards include safeguarding those assessed as in need at the heart of our work.

Diversity Need

  • Demonstrate how you have taking diversity needs into consideration?
  • Why is an understanding in relation to diversity need important to Social Work?

Answers to consider:

Social Work is complex. We work within a variety of settings and with those of varying needs. As such, the Service Users we come into contact with on a daily basis will all be unique and will present with their own forms of safeguarding, welfare or crisis based issues. As Social Workers, we must tailor our working – such as assessment, planning and intervention delivery – to the needs of the Service Users. Therefore, we must always be conscious to diversity needs, such as learning capacity, age, gender, religion, culture and previous/past exposures. Give an example here of how you have supported a Service User by taking their needs into consideration so as you could promote positive change.

Supervision/Case Management

  • Why is case management important?
  • Why is supervision important?
  • What is the purpose of Case Management and Supervision?
  • What would you consider ‘good’ Case Management and Supervision?

Answers to consider:

You can guarantee there will be a question about supervision and/or case management. Detail here how case management and supervision is important as it offers a forum that promotes critical thinking, analysis and reflection, which are all key ingredients to being a good Social Worker. It is a two way process where you will be expected to bring your own agenda that will assist in both your professional and personal development. It should offer you a forum to seek further support and guidance relating to case load difficulties. It is also about delegating and sharing case responsibility.

Guidance & Legislation

  • Name the relevant legislation that underpins the role you are apply for?
  • Name the relevant policies that underpins the role you are apply for?
  • Name the relevant guidance that underpins the role you are apply for?

Answers to consider:

Demonstrate that you have an understanding of the relevant guidance and legislation that underpins Social Work – or, specifically, the team you are applying for. Demonstrate your understanding by highlight key legislation such as:

There will also be some additional questions, such as:

  • Give an example of where you have worked as part of a team?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of multi-agency working?

Finally, remember that there are two parts to answering interview questions: Part 1) What is your understanding of the question? Part 2) Give a case example of how you have demonstrated this in practice?