social work leadership interview questions

Social work leadership interview questions

By Luke Aldred

​At some point in your career, it is likely that you will start to think about what you want to achieve. Would you like to combine your frontline expertise with support and education for more junior colleagues? Or are you considering how to reach a managerial stage of your career?

Within the social work profession, the career path for practitioners is incredibly varied and rewarding. There are numerous opportunities for social workers to branch out into new services or learn new skills to maintain excellent practice. Principal Social Worker or Best Interest Assessor jobs are perfect examples of how you can start to introduce leadership titles into your CV.

At Sanctuary, we recruit for a wide range of senior and executive social work positions. We understand what hiring managers are looking for when it comes to interviews. In a previous article for our healthcare division, we looked at what skills are needed for leadership positions, and these ring true for social work jobs as well. If you have applied for a leadership role (or are thinking of applying), then you may be wondering what questions you could be asked during an interview.

Can you talk about your passion for social work?

Great managers are those who are extremely passionate about what they do.

If you’re applying for an advanced practitioner job, then you may be asked a question like “How have your personal experiences helped you to become a good leader?” .This will be an opportunity to show examples of when you’ve stepped up or shown willingness to take control in a difficult situation.

Can you talk about how you manage conflicts?

Whether it's problem solving on behalf of families or resolving a difference of opinion within your team, a good leader will need to be adept at conflict resolution.

Hiring managers will be looking for someone who can resolve disputes quickly and efficiently. They may ask you something along the lines of “Tell us about a time you had a professional disagreement with somebody. What happened and how did you overcome this?”.

Candidates who can give examples of when they’ve negotiated or compromised effectively will be highly regarded; particularly those who can show how they’ve considered everyone's views in a balanced and fair way.

A common question could also be “How do you negotiate with people who fundamentally disagree with you?”.

Can you show any examples of adaptability?

In recent years, social services have undergone several changes. Budget cuts, legislation changes and even managerial changes can impact upon services, so hiring managers will be looking for candidates who can adapt swiftly and easily to change.

You may be asked how you’ve coped with unexpected setbacks or to provide examples of when you’ve had to adapt to last-minute changes.

How do you use creativity in your practice?

Often, the best social work practice comes from creative thinking. Having an ability to consider alternative ways to build a rapport with children or adults can result in positive outcomes.

From a managerial perspective, do you have any examples of when you have been able to encourage or support fellow colleagues who have suggested something unique? Can you recognise good ideas and inspire your peers to think creatively?

What can you tell us about your people management skills?

Great candidates will be able to demonstrate when they have been able to supervise and manage other employees. You may be asked “How have you encouraged or supported career development of co-workers?” or “How do you monitor performance levels of staff?”.

To find out more about how we can help you, please get in touch. We have also written a selection of pieces around navigating your social work career.