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Social Workers – An interview guide!

Ric Marshall

Ric Marshall

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Social Workers – An interview guide!

I’ve put together a quick guide for Social Workers on how to properly prepare for an interview and some advice that will help you in the interview.
This may sound like a lot of very basic information but being in my position, you would be surprised how many candidates don’t do these things and most of the time – the steps they’ve missed – are reflected in their feedback.

Preparation – Failing to prepare is preparing to fail!

Research the Local Authority you are interviewing at.

Find out what framework they work in, have a look over their OFSTED reports and listen to any insights your recruiter might have.
Unless you are a recruiters first candidate – they will likely know what type of questions and interview you will face and that can really help you prepare.

This should only really take half an hour and knowing your stuff makes a huge difference in your answers but also shows your interviewers you have a genuine interest in working with them.

Plan your journey.

Everyone knows how stressful things can get when you are rushing around trying to get to a new place. It is a horrible situation and you can get flustered extremely easily -  add in the fact you are heading to a potentially stressful interview, this really isn’t a great frame of mind to be in 5 minutes before an interview. Have your route figured out before you set off and it will be a far more relaxing journey.

Don’t be late – but if you are, don’t worry!

In an ideal world, everyone would arrive 15 minutes before an interview but in reality this doesn’t always happen. Traffic, delays and wrong turns (Especially if you’ve ignored the planning advice!) are normal everyday incidents and people are late.
These things happen and no one will have a problem with someone being late, as long as you let your recruiter or your interviewers know as soon as you can. I regularly find candidates tend to leave it until the last possible moment to let someone know they will be late and doing that, can make it a problem. It leaves people waiting around, wondering and wastes time but if you give somebody a heads up in advance, it isn’t a problem.

Don’t be scared of making that call – everyone is late from time to time so don’t worry – just let someone know!

Dress appropriately

Again, this sounds like common sense but think of it this way: No one has ever been criticized for looking too smart at an interview but plenty of candidates have been penalised for not being smart enough.

Attitude towards the interview 

Yes, you are getting interviewed for the job but you need to remember you are interviewing the employer too. Everything might look great on paper (Much like a CV!) but at the moment that is all you have.

You now have the perfect opportunity to find out what it’s really like to work there, from people who work there – so make use of it.
You need to come out of that interview knowing if it is a place you would like to work. I find a lot of candidates are so focussed on impressing the managers and hoping they are liked – they forget to realise that the managers / work place has to impress you.

The Interview

Detail, detail, detail.

My advice is always to be as detailed and precise as possible in every answer you give. This sounds glaringly obvious but the most common feedback I receive on unsuccessful interviews is that the Social Worker did not give enough detail in their answers or put another way – their answers lacked depth.

From an interviewers’ perspective – they have only seen your CV and you need to show them everything you know. Do not skip through the process to get to the core of the answer – go through the basics!
The interviewers will clearly know their stuff and whilst you may not think they want to hear some of the more basic points – the interviewers do not know anything about you apart from your CV and you need to demonstrate that you know how to follow the full process.

Use real life examples and experiences

This adds so much more credibility to your answers – without using examples, how does the interviewer know you can do what you are saying?
Without these examples – it can easily come across as empty words.

Questions – Don’t just ask at the end!

Use your research to think up some questions that are relevant to the Job and/or Borough beforehand but remember – you don’t have to wait until the end of an interview to ask questions.
I think you should always ask questions throughout the interview based on things you hear during it.

Doing this shows you are listening to what the interviewers are saying, it shows you are thinking about a potential future with them and also makes the interview more of a two process that becomes a flowing conversation.

I hope this helps you in some way and if you have any questions or needed further help, don’t hesitate to get in touch!

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