Social work interview questions and advice

Social work job interview guide

By Luke Aldred

The countdown is on. 48 hours until your social work interview and a mixture of nerves and excitement are starting to set in. It’s easy to let some of the seemingly obvious preparations slip through the net so we’ve prepared this blog as a reminder of some of the key things not to forget!

How do you prepare for a social work job interview?

Plan your travel

Your interview may be at a location you are familiar with, but if it’s not, you’ll want to know how long it’s going to take you to get there and the sooner you check, the better. Many of our clients have guest parking, but what if those spaces are full on the day; would you know where to park and have enough change to pay for your space?

Travelling by car

If you work in frontline social work, you’ll no doubt already use navigation software, but the route planning function on Google Maps is good and might give you that extra info your Sat Nav can’t. To access this, follow these steps.

Step 1: Google Maps.

Go to Google Maps and click the blue arrow to the right of the search bar (when you hover over it, it will say Directions).​

Step 2: Finding your destination.

Type in your address and your destination and then Google will come up with the address' it recognises in the white area below. Click on the correct one to activate it.

Step 3: Choosing your route.

Google will offer you some different routes to choose from. You will see the estimated journey time and the amount of miles between the start and end point. You may notice some coloured lines on your route, these represent the different traffic conditions; the red lines show bad traffic delays and the orange lines show medium traffic delays (usually slow moving).

Travelling by train

For those travelling by train, the National Rail app gives you live travel updates, so you can check if your train is delayed or cancelled before you leave the house.

Travelling by tube

The Tube Map Planner is great if you are planning a route on the London Underground. It will give you the fastest route and tell you where you need to change over.

Choose your outfit

Social work is one of the few caring professions without a universal dress code which can leave you a little unsure what to wear. Our advice is to go smartly dressed to your social worker interview. First impressions are everything.

Last minute prep

Our careers hub is brimming with useful resources. We recommend downloading the following to help you prepare:

Children's Services:

Adult Services:

Reviewing the typical social work interview questions you think you’re likely to be asked and starting to think about how to answer them reduces your chances of being caught out. With questions fresh in your mind, you could ask somebody else to run through a mock-interview with you. Have your ‘interviewer’ give you constructive feedback – not just on what you say but on your non-verbal communication as well. Refresh your memory on your professional history and think about how it relates to the job you are seeking, especially if you have experience within a specific area of work that sets you apart from other candidates.

Be prepared for behavioural interview questions. Knowing how you performed in the past will give the employer a sense of how you might do in the future; you might be asked to recall a time when you worked under pressure, an occasion when you made a mistake, or how you handle conflict.

Know your legislation

We cannot stress how important it is to review relevant legislation and policy ahead of the interview. An employer will want to know if you have a full understanding of your legal obligations as a social worker. For an adult social worker role, you’ll need to be able to comfortably talk about your obligations under the Care Act 2014. Likewise, children’s social workers will need to show they are up-to-date with the Children and Families Act 2014.

What to take on the day

Your dedicated Sanctuary consultant will advise you on what you must take along with you for interview, but generally you should take:

  • A copy of your DBS certificate

  • Photo ID (e.g. passport or driving licence)

  • Details of the person that you must ask for upon arrival

  • The job description and person specification

  • Exam certificates, including any CPD accredited training certificates

  • Pen and notepad

Enjoy your social work interview

Now you can relax. All that’s left for you to do is to enjoy the interview. Remember, you’ve made the shortlist so you have already impressed on paper! Good luck!

If you have any specific queries relating to your interview, please get in touch with your consultant.