Common Questions Employers Ask When Interviewing a Social Worker

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 22 November 2022 | Published 27 September 2021

Updated 22 November 2022

Published 27 September 2021

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.

If you have excellent interpersonal and communication skills, you may enjoy working as a social worker. It can be a rewarding career as you get to help families or individuals in your community. To increase your chances of getting a job as a social worker, it's important to prepare for interviews. In this article, we explore some questions HR managers may ask when interviewing a social worker, provide sample answers and provide a few tips to help you prepare.

Common questions HR managers ask when interviewing a social worker

Here's a list of questions and example answers that can help you succeed in a social worker interview:

1. In your experience, what kind of clients are the most difficult to work with? Why?

A social worker helps a range of clients. Some are easier to work with than others. Employers usually ask this interview question to gauge your ability to handle difficult clients professionally. They also want to know if you can stay calm and handle stress well. To answer this question effectively, be honest and demonstrate empathy.

Example: “I think that it can be challenging to work with clients who have substance challenges. It's also a gratifying experience to help them fight their addiction. I am committed to motivating my clients and finding the best solution to their problems. Substance abusers have a story and I understand that I must figure out what brought them to their low point if I want to help them get better. This involves listening to them, facing emotional situations and trying different ways until it works.”

Related: How To Succeed in a Virtual Interview

2. How do you assess a client's well-being?

As a social worker, you may handle clients who are experiencing physical or emotional challenges, and you may observe and recognise certain signs to keep your clients safe and well. Employers usually ask this question to gauge your technical knowledge, so it's important to mention several specific ways you assess their overall well-being.

Example: "To assess a client's well-being, I first observe their appearance looking for anything unusual. Recognising emotional challenges is a little hard, especially with new clients, but I look for changes in their behaviour, such as social withdrawal or agitation. I establish a trusting rapport with all my clients and encourage them to share anything going on in their life, so some of them are comfortable sharing information about their lives. If they share something critical, I escalate the problem to my manager or the authorities when necessary."

3. Are you willing to visit clients in their houses?

The hiring manager asks this question to determine if you're prepared for this challenging situation. Make sure your answer to this question is "yes," as some home visits are an important part of a social worker's job. Let the hiring manager know that you're prepared and confident about performing this duty.

Example: "Yes, I am mentally prepared to visit clients in their homes. I know that these situations can be risky or emotionally difficult, but I am confident enough to do it. It's the best way to get to know the clients' real situation and provide them with the help they need. Moreover, I am not easily stressed and I can keep calm whenever a situation becomes complicated."

Related: Email Examples: How To Respond to an Employer Interview Request

4. If a client becomes aggressive towards you, what would you do?

An aggressive client might be rare, but employers ask this interview question to gauge your ability to resolve conflict professionally. It's important to respond rationally and logically to these types of situations, so emphasise your soft skills in your response. Speak about any clients positively and express empathy to demonstrate your ability to manage angry clients.

Example: "When a client gets aggressive, I stay calm and ask them to explain why they're upset. I listen actively to what they're saying and ask a few questions to show them that I am listening and care a lot about what they say. I stay seated when having a conversation with them and I try to speak calmly to decrease their agitation."

5. Do you have a client who disagreed with your treatment plan? What did you do?

Employers may ask this interview question to evaluate your collaboration and communication skills. While you're the expert in your field, it's important you consider clients' requests when developing a treatment plan. Consider mentioning a specific time a client didn't agree with your treatment plan and make sure to emphasise what you did to address the challenge.

Example: "I had one client before that I thought could benefit from anxiety and depression medication, so I decided to refer her to a psychiatrist. While I thought this was the best treatment plan for her, the client didn't agree with it and wanted to have speech therapy with me instead. We agreed to give it a try for four months and reassess them. At the end of the therapy, I noticed significant progress, so we decided to continue the therapy."

Related: Job Search Guide: Finding Companies That Value Diversity & Inclusion

6. What are your biggest strengths as a social worker?

Employers ask you this question to determine if you have the required qualities to do the job of a social worker. This is an excellent opportunity for you to mention the skills you have that you know the employer is seeking. Some qualities of a good social worker include excellent communication skills, organisation skills, proactive nature and a non-judgmental attitude.

Example: "I understand that being non-judgemental and caring is important to building a good relationship with clients, and I have these qualities. I have strong communication skills. I can ask the right questions and listen to my clients' responses, even in difficult situations. This strength helps me make sound decisions on the cases I manage."

7. What are your weaknesses in the role of a social worker?

When the interviewer asks about your weaknesses, they want to ensure you can recognise your limitations and work on them. Select a weakness that doesn't impair your performance as a social worker. Also, be sure to explain what steps you have taken to improve.

Example: "I am so dedicated to providing a high-quality service, that sometimes I take on too much work. This is a weakness I am well aware of, so I make an effort to talk with my colleagues when my workload increases. Recently, I have become much more comfortable asking for help and delegating tasks."

Related: Interview Question: “What Are Your Strengths and Weaknesses?”

8. Why did you choose a career in social work?

Interviewers ask this interview question to determine how much you care about social work. Explain that you care about improving other people's lives. Also, show your compassion and commitment to the role.

Example: "Since I was a child, I always felt fulfilled when I was able to help others. Making a difference in my community is something that drives me every day. I have required social help myself in the past, and I am forever grateful for the impact social workers made in my life. Their guidance brought me where I am today. This personal experience and my compassionate nature certainly inspired me to choose a career in social work."

Interviewing tips for social workers

Here are a few tips you can take to further increase your chances of getting hired for a social worker job:

Research the employer

Research the employer beforehand. Look into their services, products, culture and goals. This can help you answer any company-specific questions they may have, such as, "Why do you want to work here?" It can also help you align your response with the company's culture and needs, demonstrating to employers that you're a good fit.

Review the job posting

To make sure you fully understand the role and the expectations of the employer, review their job advertisement in advance. Consider noting any keywords, such as specific experience or skills they're looking for. Then, during the interview, you can emphasise those abilities to stand out River other job candidates.

Conduct mock interviews

A mock interview can be a great way to practise answering interview questions and improve your confidence. Consider asking your family or friends to help you. They can act as the hiring manager and provide you with feedback on ways to improve.

Related: Job Interview Tips: How to Make a Great Impression

Arrive early

Arrive at the interview venue early and fully prepared. This can highlight your organisation and time-management skills. It can also show potential employers that you're dependable. To arrive prepared, make sure to wear professional attire and bring extra copies of your CV for the employer to refer to.

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