Highlighting your interpersonal skills during an interview
By Luke Aldred
We’ve regularly published content which has been designed to help you prepare in full for your social work interview. Whether it’s explaining how to show that you are leadership material or how to demonstrate your personal qualities, we use our blog and careers hub to give you the resources that you need to get that dream social work job.
Generally speaking, interpersonal skills are the ‘softer’ side of your skill sets, rather than your technical knowledge. Some common skills include your ability to communicate with others, time-keeping capabilities, your diplomacy, and problem-solving expertise. When it comes to recruitment, you can be sure that each candidate will have similar skills and capabilities, so how can you set yourself apart from others?
Showcase your communication skills
A core part of social work is the ability to communicate well. You’ll be dealing with a variety of people; from families and educators as well as health professionals and other agencies. And that’s not even including communications with your own colleagues. A great way to demonstrate your communication skills during an interview is to refer back to your report writing expertise.
Hiring managers will be looking for someone with the ability to write accurate reports which allows all relevant parties to easily understand and identify the pressing information. Many serious case reviews have referred to incomplete or illegible reports. You need to be able to demonstrate that your ‘softer’ communication skills can be held up to scrutiny within a court setting.
In an interview, if you are asked about your communication skills why not turn the discussion to report writing? You can demonstrate examples of when you’ve been able to include critical analysis in your reports. You can explain your ability to write complex situations in a concise manner. You can showcase your knowledge of sharing reports with other agencies and you can even reference your excellent grammar and spelling. The end result is that the hiring manager will understand not just how you communicate, but your thought process behind your style of communication.
Showcase your time-keeping
Social work is a pressured career. We know that you’re working on multiple caseloads, each with its own pressing priorities. Timekeeping is another core skill required by social workers. Not just because a manager wants to know that you’ll arrive on time every morning, but because you’ll be responsible for adhering to a myriad of deadlines. In a social work job interview, refer back to when you’ve been able to meet challenging deadlines – it shows your ability to work under pressure and react to changing circumstances, but it also shows that you could be someone that they can rely upon.
Showcase your diplomacy and problem-solving skills
When it comes to dealing with families, there will always be a wide range of opinions to contend with. Social workers are masters of diplomacy; they need to be able to make everybody feel listened to, whilst still retaining control over the management of the situation.
When working with multi-agency teams, you need to be able to collaborate with others and learn from their opinions and expertise. This is where your diplomacy skills come into play. During an interview, you may want to give examples of when you’ve provided mediation to reach the most positive outcome. You could explain how you relate to others to ensure you're listening to their viewpoints and how you use your knowledge to create the most appropriate assessment. This will show a hiring manager how you can work as part of a team and ensure that the right solutions are found for those in need.