In many ways interviews for social work jobs are like interviews for any other job: they’re nerve wracking, it’s hard not to take the result personally, and a lot is riding on your exceling yourself. Fortunately, they’re also like many other job interviews in that the right preparation can improve your performance and give you the edge you need to get that job you really want.
Today we’re hear to help with that preparation, and take away some of the nerves.
Do Your Research
It’s important to remember that no job interview is generic: you’re always applying for a specific job, with specific people. Research the service or area you’ll be interviewing for so you know the specific challenges they’re facing and priorities they have. Looking into news stories, their own website and talking to the recruiter or contact through which you got the interview can give you important insights here. When you know the specifics you can prepare, by looking at your own CV, experience and personal qualities and making sure you’re highlighting the parts of yourself that make you especially suited to meeting those challenges. Whether they’re facing challenge on budgeting and resources, or they’re trying to forge links with other organisations in the area, you can show off the times you have made successes at similar times in your career.
Social Work Specifics
You’ll also need to be aware of the social work specific aspects of the interview: if it’s an interview for one of your first jobs out of training, this might be the most challenging part for you. Be ready with constructive, helpful answers to questions like “How would you prioritise your caseload?”, and “what do you know about working for this local authority?” that let you show off how specifically you’re prepared and right for this job, in this location.
If you are relatively inexperienced, there’s no need to let this hold you back – your interviewers will know they’re interviewing for an entry level position. Talk with advisors on your course for advice, and look back to placements you completed while training for the experience you can lean on to answer these questions with specificity and confidence. Always relate your answer to something you’ve done, so in the caseload example above, your answer might start “When I was working with [name of manager] in [name of area, service or local authority] I learned….”. Principles aren’t helpful alone. You need to know how to put them into practice.