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You’ve found your ideal social work job and secured an interview. Now begins the task of preparing for your moment to shine; so what do you need to do in terms of research and preparation ahead of the interview to ensure you get the job?

Research in advance

An interview provides you with an opportunity to highlight your skills, knowledge and experience but it is the preparation you do in advance that will give you the confidence to demonstrate this to the interviewer, or the interview panel.

It may sound obvious, but find out as much about the role and the employer as you can – by looking online, speaking to colleagues who may have experience of a similar role or know the company or local authority, and by researching media coverage.

Take the job description seriously and identify how your skill mix dovetails with the potential employer’s requirements so you can highlight your strengths and specific expertise that will appeal to them, ideally with examples from your own practice. Research and preparation are just as important whether you are applying for a familiar Support Worker job, or developing your career by applying for a Senior Practitioner job or a Service Manager job.

Show your experience

Pivotal in your preparation is being ready for the questions, so work through some of the questions you feel an interviewer will ask, such as why did you choose social work as a profession and what do you know about the advertised role.

Be willing to talk about your experience and the challenges you have faced along the way, as well as your successes, so rehearse your answers.

Acknowledge areas you feel you may need to develop your skills in and also ensure you are up-to-date with all the relevant legislation surrounding the job.

Good preparation not only illustrates your enthusiasm for the role, but also demonstrates a positive attitude as a forward-thinking proactive candidate.

Specialist focus

If the role is more specialist, such as with children and families, you will need to be ready to discuss your experience of assessing and addressing risk and how you use evidence, or experience of working with other agencies, along with examples of complex child protection case you were involved with.

Similarly with adult services, be ready to demonstrate that you can meet the demands expected of you, but also show how you can bring another dimension to the role with you specific experience and expertise.

How to prepare for a panel interview

From one-to-one discussions, you may also face a panel interview, particularly when applying for managerial and specialist positions.

A good place to start for such a scenario is to discover who will be on the interview panel; what their names and positions and their particular sphere of interest. Try also to think what questions each person might ask and how they may ask them.

The day of the interview day

On the day of the interview, ensure you are focused on the task with no distractions. Dress appropriately, arrive well on time and during the interview, take notes as necessary and be prepared to ask questions as well as answering.

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