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We've all got first hand experience of tricky interview questions, but there’s one thing to keep in mind; even the more probing ones are not designed to trip you up. They’re simply meant to gather more information about you as a potential employee. Crucially, for social work professionals, they are used to see how you respond to challenge and opportunity. 

To respond with a strong answer, you’ll need to think about the question before replying and always respond as fully as possible showing a strong understanding of current legislation and the importance of timescales, making full use of examples. Here are a few pointers on how you can achieve this: 

What is your biggest weakness?

This question is directly asking you about your shortcomings. Naturally, our first instinct is to hide our flaws, but what you need to do is frame your answer so that your weakness can be seen as a positive. It could be that you are an incredible team worker and that you find it difficult to understand when others aren’t. You could then go on to say how, using this same trait, you help diffuse situations and assume leadership responsibilities, but do make sure you give some real examples to put your answer into context. The important point to remember is that strengths and weaknesses are often two sides of the same coin. 

What motivates you?

This question might also be phrased as ‘why do you work in social care?’. Employers are less interested in why you entered into the profession in the first place and are more concerned with what continues to motivate you on a daily basis. Use this opportunity to reflect on recent work you’ve been involved in and the satisfaction you get from realising positive outcomes for those you support.

Why do you think you’ll succeed in this role?

This is a very specific question and so don’t be afraid to pause for a few seconds to collect your thoughts. In preparing your answer, it helps to think ‘why am I suited to this role more than anybody else?’. Make a note of your specific skill set, knowledge and capabilities and be prepared to evidence these. And remember, your Sanctuary consultant will happily discuss the employer’s expectations of you as a potential employee, so do pick up the phone to ask us about anything you are unsure of.

Tell us more about how you stay on top of your caseload

When the interviewer asks you about how you manage your caseload, they’re expecting more than a couple of examples. They will want to understand how capable you are at managing risk and what strategies you use to keep yourself organised. Having an evidence-based approach and showing an awareness of your legal responsibilities are key here. 

Tell me about a time when you handled a crisis

This question could be worded in a number of ways; for instance ‘can you provide me with an example of when you had to handle a difficult case? or ‘give an example of how you respond under pressure?’. The employer is looking to see how you react to a crisis and whilst ensuring you meet the legal responsibilities expected of you. Have a couple of examples to mind you can draw from, and most importantly, be ready to explain how that experience has informed your practice. 

Of course, there are a host of other interview questions you could be asked and a few things to remember before your interview. We’ve pulled together some downloadable interview tools located in our Careers Hub, which have been carefully tailored for both adults and children’s social workers. 

Remember though, if you are unsure of a question, do ask the interviewer to explain the question. This will give you the best opportunity to provide a strong answer.

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