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Why do you want this job? It may seem like a simple question. However, it can pose a real challenge for even the most experienced interviewee.

It's one of those perennial interview favourites: the 'Why do you want this job?' question. The temptation is to answer with generalisations or simply reiterate things you said earlier in the interview. But remember, this is an important question and deserves a well-prepared answer. 

There are two main reasons why interviewers ask this question. Firstly, they're testing your commitment to (and therefore suitability for) this particular role and organisation. Secondly, they're giving you an opportunity to show that you really understand the role and to sell yourself as the right person to fill it.

Here's a quick step-by-step guide to getting your answer right...

1. Do your research

As a social worker, much of what you do falls within statutory service delivery. However, objectives, needs, values and culture can vary. That's why it's vital to find out as much as you can before the interview by looking at websites, social media, news feeds and published reports. Of course, your dedicated Sanctuary consultant will also be able to provide you with a useful insight into your potential new employer. 

2. Prepare your answer

It's important not to waffle, so you need to be ready with your 'elevator pitch'. That means clearly and succinctly presenting your ideas about the opportunities and challenges you see in the job. You should then show how your skills, experience and enthusiasm make you the perfect fit for the role. 

3. Show commitment

If you can show the interviewer that the job would be a logical next step on your career path, he or she is more likely to believe in your commitment to it – and to their organisation. Here, you’ll want to detail your own career ambitions and talk about opportunities for personal development. 

4. Anticipate the negatives

Put yourself in the interviewer's shoes. Consider why they might have doubts about your suitability for the job. Perhaps you haven't done specifically this type of work before. Or maybe you have and chose to move away from it. Be ready to deal with any issues and turn them into positives.

All of these tips are basic principles that apply to most job interviews. However, they take on extra significance for social workers. Social work isn't only a job. It's a vocation. As well as having proven skills and experience, you must show the interviewer that you have empathy, enthusiasm and commitment. The 'Why do you want this job?' question is your opportunity to do just that.

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Angela Davies, 10 February 2017, 03:00 PM
To E.Plummer I would like to say that you do a wonderful job, And looking through the jobs that are available,Is what I am looking for. I do have care experience but a little rusty, and looking forward to rejoining the care system. Could you give me any advice. Thank you.
Sanctuary Social Care - Emma Plummer, 10 February 2017, 03:37 PM
Hello Angela

Thank you for your comments. We’re glad to hear you found the interview guidance helpful. This is especially important when returning to social work, which we’ve also written about:

You might also want to visit our Careers Hub (, where you will be able to download a number of useful tools and guides.

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