Nail that social work job interview

We’ve all been there – we’ve got the qualifications, we know we can do the work well and we’d love the challenge of the job. But there’s that interview process looming large, casting a long shadow over our chances of landing our dream role.

Social work jobs are not that different when it comes to getting through the interview process, and it is useful to list some of the key attributes you should be working on to maximise your chances of success.

Preparation

Know your stuff. The interview panel needs to feel confident that you actually understand what you are talking about, so put in some hours of preparation.

The British Association of Social Workers has this advice: review relevant legislation and policy frameworks, including political developments and memorise the information (yes, that’s tedious, but worthwhile), so you can drop it into conversation, even if the interviewers don’t actually ask for it specifically. You are there to impress, after all.

Research

You’d be amazed at how many people go into job interviews without even a basic understanding of what their prospective employer does. Go online and learn a bit about the organisation; you might even find something interesting.

The New Social Worker suggests the following: don’t wait until the night before the interview to start your research. Talk to people who work at the organisation, dig out its annual report, understand how the job you want fits in. If you find out the organisation just had its annual fundraiser, simply saying you hope it went well could mark you out as being a better candidate with more complete knowledge.

The obvious questions

Some questions come up again and again in interviews. If you’re applying for social work jobs, for example, you should expect to be asked how you would prioritise your caseload. For a list of common social work questions you should be ready to answer, see this Guardian article.

Presentation

It doesn’t matter if you think wearing flip-flops to work is acceptable, you are there to impress, so do dress appropriately. And don’t turn up late. Sanctuary Social Care which supplies social workers to social services throughout the UK, is quite clear about the basics when it comes to presenting yourself: avoid casual clothes, such as jeans; take a notebook and pen, but please don’t doodle; turn up on time or, better still, early. Have some questions prepared – write them in that notebook. See, it’s coming in handy already!

You’ve done the basics

Congratulations – you’ve now done some basic preparation that will put you ahead of other candidates. Next, practise being interviewed and build your confidence levels… and good luck.

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