April 16

How to answer social work interview questions


Congratulations on getting to your interview! Whether you are trying to get a job or trying to study social work, getting to your interview is one step closer to getting what you want. 

Before going into how to answer social work interview questions, we need to know how interviewers ask questions.

Therefore, I want to share 7 tips to score well on that interview. 

1. See the interview as a conversation, rather than a one-way dialogue. 

Interviews are not only a way for interviewers to find out about you, but they are also a way for you to find out about them. After all, social work is no easy profession, and taking the opportunity to speak to the panel about the difficulties they face, how they overcome those difficulties, and how they have managed to stay on in such a challenging job, will provide useful tips for you as you go on in your social work career as well. 

Thus, when you begin to see it as a conversation for you to find out more, rather than a high-stakes interview upon which the direction of your life pivots, you begin to take a more relaxed stance towards the interview. 

See it as a conversation, not a monologue.

2. Be honest. 

Honesty is a great quality of good social workers. To answer those social work interview questions, it helps to be honest. If you do not know something, don’t try to pretend that you do know it. Tell the interviewers that you do not know and that you will take the chance to find out. 

3. Be prepared. 

It helps to be prepared for the interview, rather than walking in and expecting to wing it. It doesn’t happen that way. Preparing for the interview involves preparing a preliminary draft of answers to the questions interviewers might ask. As Richard Bolles states in his book, ‘What Colour is Your Parachute’, questions usually revolve around 5 main themes:

  • Why this job (think about why you chose social work)?
  • Why this organisation? 
  • Why you?
  • Why you, compared to everyone else?
  • What can you add to this organisation?

Preparing your answers to these questions, and going through them with a family member, a friend, or a colleague, will put you on a better footing to answer those questions that come your way. 

4. Use the STAR format

If you’re not familiar with the STAR format, you should start learning about it. 

Use this format when you are asked questions such as: 

  • Tell me about a time when…
  • What do you do when…
  • Have you ever…
  • Give me an example of…
  • Describe a…
list of social work intervention models

5. Keep your answers to 3 minutes. 

Your interviewer is not asking for your life story. As interesting as it is, keep to the main points. Keep it short and sweet. Always link your point to how it answers the question. For example:

Why this organisation? 

From my conversations with people who have worked here, I have found that there is great camaraderie and teamwork amongst the people who work here. Furthermore, there is also great experience amongst the people who work here, with the majority of the people having worked here for more than 5 years. Therefore, as a young social worker, learning from the experiences of more seasoned professionals will help me to develop greatly. That’s why I have chosen this organisation. (LINK)

Keep it simple, short and sweet!

6. Pause 

You don’t need to have an answer off your fingertips all the time. Taking the time to pause and think shows the confidence and courage you have to think through an answer, rather than rush through haphazardly. Thus, it’s vital that you do this. In chaotic social work, no manager expects you to have the answer all the time. Rather, it’s the calmness and composure to think through a rational next step that sets you apart. 

7. Thank your interviewers after the interview. 

Finally, this is something you might not have heard of. That’s because so few people do it. Recommended by Richard Bolles, a career guidance expert, he says that this is done so that your panel will remember who you are. Furthermore, it makes a better impression, since so few people do it. Lastly, it shows basic courtesy. The panel have taken precious time off their busy schedules to meet you, and it’s nice to show your gratitude. 

I hope this helps you in how to answer social work interview questions. Want to get more advice about getting a job? Check this free resource.


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  1. Thanks so much for your kind advice, this really helped me in my own interview in Singapore. With your help, I scored that interview and got my first job! Thank you so much, John!

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