conducting a social work interview, social work interview, how to assess candidates at a social work interview

Conducting a social work interview

By Billy Holland

​If you’ve developed your social work career, you may now be heading towards a managerial position with the chance to manage your own team. Being an effective social work manager isn’t just about improving practice and setting expectations, it’s about being able to identify the right people who have the perfect expertise needed for your department.

At Sanctuary, our experience and understanding of social work recruitment means that we know how to find that perfect match. We know what pressures you are under and what skills you need to deliver positive outcomes to those in need. We have gained strong insights into what hiring managers need to do to ensure that the interview process goes smoothly.

Prepare, prepare, prepare!

When it comes to recruitment, the most important thing that any hiring manager should do is prepare. You may know what position needs to be filled and the skills/attributes that are desirable, but you need to consider how you plan to handle the interview process. Do you know who will be in the interview room with you? Have you looked through the candidate’s CV to check for their experience? Do you know what questions you plan to ask?

Preparing your interview strategy is the best way to ensure that you find the right person for your social work team.

How to assess candidates

If you’re working as part of an interview panel, then you will need to consider how you plan to assess each applicant. You may find that each member of the panel is looking for slightly different experience, so it’s important to establish a method of fairly judging each potential recruit to the same standards.

We regularly advocate that our community answer questions using the STAR framework. This is where they frame their answers with Situation – Task – Action – Result. Ensure that your questions are phrased accordingly if you are planning on using this as an evaluative tool.

Who should be part of the interview panel?

When recruiting a senior position such as a Head of Service role or an Assistant Director position, it is likely that you will need to incorporate a senior hiring panel. This might include your Director of Service as well as a senior HR manager and potentially even your Chief Executive – all of whom will want to have full confidence that the person you choose is the right candidate for the role.

You may find our previous article about using video technology beneficial – particularly if you need support in marrying up busy diaries.

Managing interview feedback

During the interview, make plenty of notes to allow you to refer back and reach an informed decision. If you are conducting an interview day whereby you see several candidates back-to-back, it can be easy to forget who said what and therefore, your notes should be relevant and allow you to make your choice.

As recruiters, we work closely with both our clients and candidates to handle the feedback process. If you have written notes, we may ask you to share your feedback with us so that we can liaise directly with the candidate to explain your thought process, particularly if they were unsuccessful.

If you’re looking to hire new recruits for your team, then please get in touch. We offer an exclusive consultancy service which allows us to meet your specific needs.
We have also written a selection of pieces around starting and navigating your social work career.