20 Interview Questions Every Social Worker Needs to Know

“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” – Alexander Graham Bell

As Alexander Graham Bell so eloquently states in this quote, preparation is critical and this definitely holds true with respect to the interviewing process.

There are 20 interview questions that every social worker should be prepared to answer, as well as an additional 9 questions that may or may not be applicable to you depending on what type of position you are seeking.

Please note that the updated version of this post is 40 Interview Questions Every Social Worker Needs to Know but before you leave, make sure to check out the Q & A exchange in the comments below.


  • Why have you selected a career in social work?
  • How is your previous experience applicable to the work we do here?
  • Have you had the experience of working with people of a race or sexual orientation different from yours? (be able to articulate how culture impacts our work re: abuse/neglect/prevention/ intervention etc.)
  • What do you hope to accomplish as a social worker?
  • What do you judge to be your major successes or accomplishments in your fieldwork? How did you achieve these?
  • What major disappointments/failures have you had in fieldwork? Or
  • Knowing what you know now, is there something you would do differently in the management of one of your fieldwork cases?
Assessment of Skills/Technique  
  • Are you sensitive?  Are you intuitive?
  • Are you an active listener?  Are you able to engage clients?
  • How do you describe your personal boundaries?
  • What kinds of things go into a psychological assessment?
  • Do you believe in short term or long-term treatment?
  • How do you handle termination?
  • Think of a client you have liked/disliked and tell me how you dealt with the counter transference issues.

Personality/Working Style/Other

  • This position requires a lot of independent thinking and initiative.  There is minimal supervision.  Could you handle that?
  • Would you rather draw up plans and design a program or be responsible for implementing a program?  Why?
  • How would your weaknesses interfere with your ability to do this job?
  • What kinds of problems do you like to handle?  Can you give me an example.
  • What do you think is going to happen in the field in the next five years?
  • Are you a member of any professional organizations?

For those of you going after a position in a school setting, make sure to check out  Got School Social Work Interview? 21 Questions to Answer for some specific questions tailored for the educational arena.

May/May Not Apply Depending on Position Type

  • Do you feel you can be objective in counseling a teen about abortion?
  • What do you think of the welfare system?
  • What do you think of the recent welfare changes?
  • What are your thoughts on managed care?
  • What techniques do you use in crisis intervention work?
  • How would you handle a psychotic outburst in the clinic waiting room?
  • In terms of family therapy, what is your theoretical orientation?
  • Are you prepared to make home visits?
  • What are the risk assessment/signs of abuse/neglect?

Based upon my readings, I’ve learned that it’s a good idea to put together 2-3 stories in which you solved a problem at work and 2-3 stories in which you have learned some lessons on the job.

Having prepared these stories, in turn, will help you answer behavioral interviewing type questions that may get thrown your way.

When drafting your responses to situational questions, it is recommended to use a Problem, Action, Result approach; i.e., describe the action you took and then the result.

Finally, once you’ve completed your stories, write out in the margin the personality characteristics that you feel your stories illustrate.

This way, you are likely to have some stories prepared for when you are asked to describe a situation with a particular strength.

For those of you who have gone on interviews already, do these questions look like ones you’ve been asked? What else would you add?

Comments have been closed; please feel free to ask any questions you may have on the updated post 40 Interview Questions Every Social Worker Needs to Know

Photo credit: Light Crystals by Patrick Hoesly
Reference: Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter 
Note: I extracted the typical and toughest questions from Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter and reorganized them by topic or skill set as shown above.


  1. says


    Yes – you’ve added some valuable key points for successful interviewing ▸ do your homework on the agency and be prepared to show how you are the right person for the position!

    Thanks so much for providing your guidance as well as sharing the link to this great list of interview questions from NASW.

    Also, thanks for your good wishes :)

  2. says

    DorleeM – Another great post! Those of us in mental health bring our personal histories along with us to add to or contaminate the clinical hour. So . . . I would want to know something like “How do you handle conflict in the workplace?” and also “How might your personal history be a strength in your work and how might it also be a hindrance?”

    • Anonymous says

      I have been asked the conflict question several times. I always feel that a good answer is, I believe that conflict is not always a bad thing. That it helps people communicate and problem solve.”

  3. says

    Thanks so much, Tamara, for both your kind feedback and the additional possible interview questions we may come across!

  4. says

    Hi Dorlee,
    What a great interviewing resource for your social work colleagues and peers!

    As usual, a pithy post that you’ve clearly done your homework on in order to provide value for your readers. Any serious-minded social work careerist would do well to heed your advice.

    Love the Alexander Graham Bell quote, as well.


  5. says


    The fact that you’ve taken the time to write this post and share your findings with others speaks highly about the type of person you are – one who is interested in the well-being of others. A desirable trait in a social worker!

  6. says


    Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment :)

    I am gathering these materials as I am getting ready for my job search… and it is my pleasure to share these with others.

  7. says

    Two questions that seem very important to the interviewing process is: How have you worked with other professionals and agencies?

    Due to the multidimensional nature of social work many of us will collaborate with doctors, lawyers, nurses, parole officers, and individuals from other disciplines. Even if it isn’t asked, I think stating your ability to work with different agency and professions is a strong indicator of a progressive social worker.

    Work Climate
    One thing that really excites employees that I always ask is, “How would you describe the work culture of your agency?” Every job has hidden rules and to be able to ask that question not only shows that a candidate is interested in understanding an agency’s hidden rules, but they are willing to adapt.

    Another question to ask is, “What is the agency’s funding sources?” I know this is for questions to prepare, but I seriously recommend asking this question. I have had a number of friends sign up for a social work job only to be cut because the agency was fiscally irresponsible. If no one knows where the money comes from and how to keep it coming… you might not want to work there.

    Thank you for this post, Dorleem. It was great!

  8. says

    Thanks so much, Mozart, for sharing these very important points – the questions relating to one’s ability to be a team player, as well as the necessity of assessing the financial viability of the agency for which one is interviewing.

    You’re absolutely right – it would be horrible to start at a new organization, just to find out weeks or months later, that it is one that is in trouble.

    Actually, I believe that there is some research that one can do about this on one’s own even prior to the interview to get a feeling for this.

    As I recall, there is supposed to be one site that provides this information for many of the agencies. When I find/remember it, I will make sure to make mention of it.

    Thanks again :)

  9. says

    Great questions and interviewing strategies!

    I would add this questions:

    How do you handle conflict with coworkers? And be ready with some examples…if you don’t have a “coworker” example, use peer (e.g., conflict that comes up working with other students on a group project).

  10. says

    Thanks so much, Nancy, for adding for this great question on handling conflict.

    It will definitely help to have thought of a good example of this prior to one’s interview.

    Also thanks for your kind feedback :)

  11. Anonymous says

    This is a very helpful post, Dorlee! As are all you yours. I am currently interviewing for jobs, and it seems that I am having a hard time understanding the true purpose of some of these types of questions. I tend to be pretty straightforward, and started out giving answers to the question asked. Your third general question is a good illustration, though, of the question that underlies the question:

    “Have you had the experience of working with people of a race or sexual orientation different from yours? (be able to articulate how culture impacts our work re: abuse/neglect/prevention/ intervention etc.)”

    I would have answered this question with a “yes,” then gone on to give an example as an illustration of my abilities in this area. But your parenthetical comment indicates that what they are really asking is, “How do you think culture impacts our work of __________?” I find your comment here extremely helpful. I find this question subtext thing a little difficult to discern in the interview environment, for some reason, even though I am otherwise a quite intuitive an d perceptive.

    I would really love to know what is the subtext of some other common interview questions. Here’s one that I can tell I’m not answering to interviewers’ satisfaction, but I can’t figure out why: “What management style do you prefer/work best under?” In truth, I’m quite flexible, and can enjoy and work well with almost any management style as long as the supervisor is fair and communicates. Is it ok to say that? Or are they getting at something else, entirely?

    Another question I’ve gotten in all four interviews (I did get an offer from one and but had to turn it down) is this: “Describe a conflict you’ve had with a supervisor.” In two interviews I felt like my response to this question was received well, but in the other two things seemed to go south after it, though I gave the same example each time.

    Any help you can give illustrating the subtext of any interview question would be so very helpful!

    Thank you for your wonderful blog.

  12. Anonymous says

    Ah, thanks, that’s helpful! I should have been more clear: The questions are about how I like to be managed. I’d have a lot easier time with questions about how I manage others!

    Thanks so much!

    • says

      Oh, I misunderstood… yes, I like your approach of demonstrating flexibility… you could also state that you want a supervisor that will mentor you, give you clear direction, is there if/when you need her/him, and lets you do your work.

      You may also want to say that you’d like your supervisor to be fair, empathetic and upfront with you and let you know when you make a mistake so that you can fix it as soon as possible.

      Alternatively, if you have management experience (even if it’s not from the social work field), you could say that you’d like to be managed in the same way that you have managed others and cite an example in which you have succeeded in getting great results from someone else illustrating the key traits you want to stress that you have (that would be most desirable for the position you are seeking).

      Let me know which approach you go with and how it works in the field!

  13. Maz Khan says

    Thank You so much for this informative session. I have an interview tomorrow and feel that this has been a great form of research. Thank you for your time and effort!

  14. OliviaRS says

    Hi Dorlee, I`ve been studying for my second social work management interview – the first one didn’t go too well. There were a few of those subtext questions for which I had no idea what they were asking of me as the questions were basically statements. Some of the questions I was stumped on were; Supervisory skills – are these different in a unionized environment? What are the ethical considerations/concerns with respect to research and evaluation? In an environment where government bodies are pushing for regulation and mental health how does this impact on staff, managers, agency? What’s involved in research and evaluation? Bill 168 places new obligations on employers – please discuss these obligations? Any suggestions/comments would be greatly appreciated!!

  15. says

    Hi Olivia,

    I’m sorry to hear that your first interview didn’t go too well. However, it sounds like it was an excellent training or prep class for future interviews…

    Thank you for sharing some of the tough questions that you faced. Based upon the ones you mentioned here, I gather you are from Canada. While I am not familiar with the laws and regulations in your country, I can offer you a few suggestions.

    1A) As per this site http://www.iapa.ca/Main/articles/2009_workplace_violence.aspx, Bill 168 addresses workplace harassment and violence. This site has a wealth of information about this bill – I would read through it to get an understanding of some of the key obligations that are now in place for employers. They have a specific pdf toolkit preparing employers on this very topic.

    1B) The answer to how the staff is impacted by the changes in regulation is a function of what those changes are… I do not know what the changes are in Canada. However, I would read up about the latest changes and then think about them.

    In all likelihood, the changes lead to some sort of increased pressure for the staff – to do more with less (less staff, less funds, less resources). In addition, there may be stricter requirements (more paperwork, electronic filing, new codes etc) that require additional learning and/or time/effort in order to keep up.

    In truth, these pressures are ones that are faced by nearly everyone in every industry… you would want to demonstrate some awareness of the changes in regulations in your country as well as your ability to keep up with and adapt to changes.

    2) Re supervisory skills in an unionized environment, I think you may be able to gleam some helpful info from one or both of these two sites http://hrcouncil.ca/hr-toolkit/keeping-people-supervision.cfm and http://www.tbglabor.com/services.aspx?cid=13.

    I would also try if you can to ask any social worker(s) whom you know who employed in a supervisory role – how being a part of a union – impacts their work… While different unions may have different rules, I assume that there are some general ones that one must adhere to in a supervisory role. If/when you find out, could you please come by and share these with us?

    Regardless of the specific union laws, I think the underlying message you want to convey is your ability to learn and adapt to new ways of working (and share an example demonstrating this).

    3) Re research and evaluation, I would recommend that you check out the book: Program evaluation for social workers: Foundations of evidenced-based programs by Grinnell, R. M., Gabor, P. A. & Unrau, Y. A. . This is the book we used in my research class.

    Very briefly, the underlying goal of research and evaluation is to seek quality improvement. Quality Improvement means that you continuously measure the effectiveness of processes in order to enhance client services.

    Plan, Do, Check, Act > Study process and decide what improvements should be made to improve quality; Put plan into action on trial basis; Check if change is working as planned; If change works, implement on a larger scale. If not, refine and repeat.

    Re the ethical considerations of research and evaluation, these include conducting the research ethically that is: obtaining informed consent, ensuring voluntary participation, doing no harm, maintaining confidentiality (identifying information is not made available to anyone but the program coordinator), as well as anonymity (identity of the research participant needs to remain unknown to the research team), and accessing only those components [information] that are of relevance to the program.

    In addition, evaluations should not be used inappropriately i.e., to justify decisions already made or as a public relations tool.

    Caveat: Do not rely on my brief description… please check out the source I’ve referred you to.

    I would wish you the best of luck but you don’t need it – with such great learnings from your first interview, you will do beautifully on your next interview :)

  16. says

    I interviewed for an internship at LA County Dept. of children and Family services (and got the internship). They gave a situation and asked about strengths and weaknesses of the “client” and the risk factors. They also made me prioritize a “to-do” list. And the infamous, dead child on your caseload question, which I am always dumbfounded about…

  17. says

    Hi Mrs BKay,

    With respect to “to do” list type questions, I would suggest you keep in mind Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs so that you always address food, health and safety first (before employing other interventions that assist in the belonging/loving, status/esteem or self-actualization levels).

    Alternatively, you could refer to the two acronyms that I recommend memorizing for the LMSW exam in http://www.dorleem.com/2012/08/how-to-use-two-acronyms-to-go-for-gold.html

    As for the child question, could you provide more details?

  18. OliviaRS says

    Hi Dorlee

    Thanks so much for the amazing feedback. I actually have another interview this week for another clinical manager position!! I will keep you posted and after I complete my studying I will post a few extras!
    Thanks so much!

  19. Anonymous says

    I recently graduated with my BSW and have been interviewing. One question that has come up is “How would you react to a person that just walked in and appears to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol?” as well as the question “How would you react to a psychotic outburst?” I’m conflicted as to the appropriate way to respond to these situations. What do you all think would be the best way to respond to these scenarios?

  20. says

    To give you an update, the responses for these questions are rather long. Therefore, I will be addressing them in a post later this month.

  21. says

    I have an interview for social work assistant tomorrow, what would be the most likely questions I should expect at the interview?

  22. says

    Hi George,

    I’m wishing you the best of luck on your interview tomorrow!

    Unfortunately, this is not a lot of lead time… and I don’t know the answer off the top of my head. Could you share with us the job description as well as what country you are writing from? Based upon this information, it is possible that I could make some educated guesses on what kinds of questions you could expect.

  23. says

    Hi DorleeM,

    I’m in the UK.

    The following are some of the main duties of the job applied for. Hope this would help:

    1.To contribute to the management process through the following:-

    Ø Provision of practical advice and support to service users.
    Ø Liaison with other agencies and providers as appropriate.
    Ø Completing under supervision contributions to written assessments e.g. core assessment or action and assessment record documentation.
    Ø Participation in child care planning meetings as required.
    Ø Ensuring that practical tasks e.g. arranging transport and contact meetings are completed via liaison with appropriate agencies.
    Ø Preparation of life story books for looked after children.
    Ø Visiting looked after children as required.

    2.To assist colleagues in carrying out statutory requirements

    3.To participate in the performance management system including supervision, PDR, team meetings, section and divisional briefings and reviews of service.

    4.To be committed to practice that is anti-discriminatory and that actively promotes equal opportunities.

    5.To follow all Health and Safety procedures in the performance of all duties

  24. says

    Thanks for sharing the job description, George

    I will need some time to think about this… and would only have the time to do so tonight. Would that still be helpful to you or would that be too late?

  25. says

    I have a job interview on the 30th , I have no experience as a social worker. The interview is for senior social worker. My work background is mainly in mental health and counseling. What tools and information should I know in order to have a good turnout for this interview?

  26. says

    Hi Nikki,

    I would look at the job description you have for senior social worker. The key skills that are being sought after for the position you are seeking would be listed there.

    Demonstrate how you have used similar/identical skills in your mental health and counseling work. And if there are some requested skills that you have not employed in your work, have you used them in another capacity? If so, use that as your example of how you have put that skill to use.

    With respect to bodies of knowledge, I would suggest you do the same thing as well as demonstrate an interest to learn and grow (so that whatever you don’t know, you will work hard at filling in).

    Good luck!

  27. says

    Thank you, another question is, how do I deal with interview jitters. They are real bad when I have an interview for a job I really want.

  28. says

    Hello Dorlee,

    I have an interview working with infants 0-5 and addressing parenting skills. As a therapist I will be supporting their emotional/behavioral concerns assisting them developmentally. My interview will be on the 30th. Would you know what type of questions I would expect?

  29. says

    Hi brebre 128,

    I think you can expect to be asked questions about: your past experience with working with infants and their parents, your knowledge about early childhood development, what are some of the key developmental milestones that you would be watching out for with kids in the under 5 age range, can you give an example of how you have or would handle a situation in which a child has not met a key developmental milestone and what are the steps you take in order to develop a positive relationship with the parent(s) of the infants you are working with.

    This website has lots of helpful information http://www.earlyinterventionsupport.com/fortherapists/default.aspx

    Wishing you the best of luck! Please come back to let us know how it went and what questions you were asked… so we can all learn from one another :)

  30. says

    Hello I am really loving you post–I have a job interview ( well I first have to pass the some test, which I feel I will have no trouble doing!), but I am really scared for the job interview. I have applied to be a Social Services Aide at the California Department of Social Services in my county. What do you believe would be some questions they might be asking?

  31. Anonymous says

    Hi there, thanks for the post and input on the questions in the comments! Can you tell me some examples of responses to the counter-transference question?

  32. says

    Hi Juliana,

    I’m so glad that you have found this post helpful.

    Could you share with me the job description for the Social Services Aide position you are going for? That will help me propose some questions that you are likely to be asked.

    Wishing you the best of luck on your exam!

  33. Anonymous says

    Hi Dorlee,

    I am preparing to provide direct care to traumatic brain injury patients in a living facility. Do you have any advice regarding the questions that they may ask?

  34. says


    Great question… I’d like to spend a bit of time thinking/doing some research before responding to your question. I should be able to get back to by you by Friday evening {if not earlier].


  35. Anonymous says

    Also, my interview will be at a transitional living facility along with spinal cord injuries

  36. says

    Ok, here are a few targeted questions for your specific area as well as 2 helpful resources for you:

    What experience, if any, have you had working with patients with TBI? [if no, show how the skills/experience you have are transferable]

    What are some of the issues/concerns you would expect TBI patients and/or their families to have?

    What types of intervention strategies would you employ with TBI patients?

    How comfortable are you in interacting with individuals with cognitive and emotional/behavioral disabilities?

    How comfortable are you in interacting with individuals with physical disabilities?

    How would you conduct an assessment of a person with TBI?

    2 great resources on this topic are:
    1) Systematic Approach to Social Work Practice: Working with Clients with Traumatic Brain Injury by Margaret A. Struchen, Ph.D. and Allison N. Clark, Ph.D. http://www.lapublishing.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/SystematicApproachtoSocialWorkPractice.pdf
    2) A SAMSHA publication http://store.samhsa.gov/shin/content/SMA10-4591/SMA10-4591.pdf

    Please do come back after your interview and share the questions you were asked so that we all benefit from your experience :)

    Wishing you the best of luck!

  37. says

    Hi darlee, Sorry it took me so long to write back–I am happy to report that I have passed my three exams for the job that I am applying for (social services aide). And on Tuesday 7/23, I will have my final exam/interview its a Structured Oral Exam. Here is the class specifications for the position I am applying for and I hope you could find some questions they might ask. Thank you for you time. http://www.co.monterey.ca.us/personnel/documents/specifications/60D11.pdf

  38. says

    Hi Juliana,

    Congrats on having passed the 3 exams for the social services aide position!

    Thanks for sending me this info about the position. If I can manage to squeeze in reading it and coming up with some of the expected questions for you in time, I will.

    Wishing you the best of luck on your final exam/interview on Tuesday :)

  39. Anonymous says

    HI there I am about to attend an interview for a mental health clinician position. I have been practicing questions I may be asked. One of those could potentially be what is your experience with mental health (as advised from a previous friend that went for an interview there). What type of answers do you think an interviewer would be looking for? I thought about outlining my workplace experience and some disorders I have dealt with. What do you think they would be looking for. I am not actually a social worker but i am a provisional psychologist but i knew that in general social workers can also apply for these types of positions.

  40. says


    I would take your clues from the job description… you could expect many of the same questions as a social worker [i.e., many of those listed]. What may be different is that you may be expected to come in already with supervisory experience. Hence some questions may be centered around your experience with supervision – what is your style, what difficulties have you had or describe a difficulty you have had.

    In addition, I would be prepared to show experience/knowledge with the population and types of issues addressed in this agency/facility as well as the ability to learn [provide an example that illustrates your ability to pick up what you need to know in order to get an assignment/job done or help a client].

    Hoping this helps – If you can, please come back after your interview and share the questions you were asked so that we may all learn from your experience.

    Wishing you the best of luck!

  41. Anonymous says


    I have a interview as a discharge planner at a hospital coming up, do you have any idea of questions that may be asked?

  42. says


    Aside from the standard social work type questions, I would anticipate questions like:

    1. What experience have you had with discharge planning? [And if you haven’t, I would try to demonstrate how some component of your past experience was similar to what is involved in discharge planning]
    2. What do you view as the key concerns for good discharge planning?
    3. How have you handled [or would you handle] conflicts between actions that appear to be in the best interest of the patient and administrative/insurance conflicts? [be prepared to give an example]
    4. How would you go about planning a client’s discharge?
    5. How would you find the necessary community resources to support a client’s special post-discharge needs?

    Lastly, attached are two handouts on discharge planning that you may find helpful – one is from the government on how to reduce hospital readmissions by employing best practices on discharge planning:


    and one is from the National Association of Social Workers http://www.naswdc.org/practice/standards/acute_care_med_hospital.asp

    Hoping this helps :)

  43. says

    It was my pleasure.

    Thanks – That would be so helpful if you could come back after your interview and share the questions you were asked [while they are fresh in your mind].

    Wishing you the best of luck!

  44. Anonymous says

    Hi DorleeM,

    Thank you for putting the time and effort to help. I am writing you from USA, specifically, NY. I have an interview for a school social work position (elementary setting)this Friday, I have no experience only my internships, please help with questions and ways to answer them.

  45. says

    It is my pleasure.

    There was not much time… However, I put together a post providing you with the types of questions to expect. I’m afraid I don’t have the time to also guide you in how to answer them… but try to use the advice I suggest above – the PAR approach for the scenario type questions and you may have to do some research to answer/prepare for some of the others [if you are not familiar] and/or you may need to be prepared for not knowing the answers to some of the questions [but show a willingness and interest to learn… with an example].

    Wishing you the best of luck! And if you can, please do come back to comment on the post of school social work questions and let us know what you were asked.

  46. Anonymous says

    I have my very first interview as a newly qualified social worker next week. The job description didn’t specify which team exactly as it was a generic job advert and application which just stated a few teams they were advertising for which were child protection, referral and assessment or family team. Am I expected to tell them my preference at the interview as the truth is I am not too fussed and would be grateful of a position on any of these teams and don’t want to limit myself by specifying just one team!
    Also I am really nervous and would appreciate any advice on questions I may get asked, I don’t actually have first hand experience in any of the teams!!!!

  47. says

    I will be working to put together a post to address your question about what types of questions to expect in this arena.

    As for whether to specify child protection, referral or assessment, you may be asked to indicate your preference. To ensure your flexibility, you could state in your response, that while you have a slight preference for X, you are actually equally excited [and qualified] for all three teams and then be prepared to demonstrate how you are…

    If you do not have first hand experience, try to see what similar type of experiences you do have… for example, you have probably conducted assessments and referrals in your prior positions… similarly, even if you have not been on a “child protection” team per se, you may have acted on behalf of a child when you did your mandated reporting duty with X last year and then worked with the child and/or her caregivers… etc.

    Wishing you the best of luck!

  48. Anonymous says

    Hi DorleeM,

    I see that you have been a great benefit to everyone on this thread, so I was hoping you will be able to assist me as well. I have an interview for a medical social work intern position tomorrow at the Children’s Hospital. They have informed that there will be a written portion, do you know what that usually consists of? The interview process will take up to 3 hours, so I am a but nervous.

    Sorry for the last minute question.

    Thank you for everything!

  49. says

    Regretfully, I have no idea what the written portion of a medical social work intern interview is like… If you could please come back and share that info with the rest of the community after your interview, I’d most appreciate it :)

    In the interim, be prepared to share an example of how you have worked well as a member of a team, how you have handled a conflict or misunderstanding and how you work well with children [and their caregivers] – using the problem, action and result method I describe above.

    Wishing you the best of luck!

  50. says

    Hi DorleeM,

    I have an interview as a Linkage Clinician “that provides family-based case-management, mental health counseling, and therapy services to children and families involved in juvenile probation. Clinicians are members of a treatment team, and provide services at the program site and in the community, including juvenile hall, hospitals, schools, and family homes.”

    I was wondering if you had any idea of what types of questions I might be asked? I also wanted to know if there are particular evidence based practices, or common diagnosis for youth involved in juvenile probation that I should research about?

    I have seen that you have been successful in helping many people with their interviews and I would appreciate any advice or suggestions that you have.

    Thank you!!

  51. says

    Hi Julia,

    I can add your type of interview to the next one on the list to focus on. Right now, I’m in the midst of a general child welfare protection post.

    Therefore if you end up having your interview before I’m able to get to this, it would be a huge help, if you could come back and share some of the questions you were asked…

    However, in the interim, I managed to find for you the following resources that may be of help to you:
    Best Practices
Juvenile Justice Reform http://www.princeton.edu/futureofchildren/publications/highlights/18_02_Highlights.pdf
    Web Based Child Welfare Training System [loads of valuable links and readings]
    Criminal Justice Social Work in the United States: Adapting To New Challenges

    Wishing you the best of luck!

  52. says

    Hey Mrs. Dorlee. I appreciate the helpful 20 interview questions. My name is Sarah and I’m a former BSW graduate of May 2013. I will have my first in the field job interview at DCFS as a Family Service Worker on December 4, 2013. I’m nervous about it, which is normal for most. One of my friends who is in the same field, told me that they would probably be asking a lot of behavioral and conflict questions. I would like some input on possible behavioral and conflict questions associated with this job title. Thanks in advance.

  53. Billy says

    Hi DorleeM, I’m from the UK and would be interested in what you think the best answer at a child protection social worker interview, would be for “What specific assessment tools would you use?”

  54. says

    Dear Cutti and Billy,
    I am currently in the midst of working on an interview with a child/family social worker. As soon as it is finished, I will make sure to post it :)
    In the interim, I suggest you follow the Problem, Action, Result approach to behavioral type of interviews; i.e., describe the problem, action you took and then the result.
    You may also get some ideas and direction from: http://www.dorleem.com/2013/09/got-school-social-work-interview-21.html and
    Wishing you the best of luck!

  55. says

    Doralee –
    This is an excellent resource for social workers. It is also a great tool for anyone preparing for an interview. My area Vocational Rehabiliation counselor and I frequently work with students in prep for job interviews. Your advice to put together a few stories to use as examples of how to handle a situation are great! This will allow an interviewee to showcase some of their personal experiences.
    Thanks for the great article!
    Karen Hoyt

  56. Gerald says

    Hi I have recently received my BS in psychology from the University of Phoenix. Tomorrow 2-21-14 I will be interviewing for one of three jobs in which this company is looking at me for. This one will be a mental health supervisor, and they will be looking for writing style. What sort of questions should I expect, and what type of answers will the interviewer be looking for?

  57. says

    Hi Gerald,

    I hope that your interview went well. Sorry that I did not have enough time to try to respond to your question beforehand.

    To help others in the community [as well as yourself for future interviews], it would be great if you could share one or two of the questions that were asked pertaining to your writing style [or any other good ones] that you recall.

    Good luck!

  58. Anonymous says

    I currently work in the prison system in the mental health department and getting ready for an interview in a state hospital for criminal inmates, they to comprmised to serve time in prison. I”m not sure what to expect. Also I have concerns about the level of saftey in the facility. hHw and when I can address these concerns ?
    thank you

    Experienced Senior Social Worker.

  59. says

    Dear Experienced Senior Social Worker,

    Thanks for stopping by. It would be so nice if you could share one or two questions that someone could expect to be asked in your current place of work and how you’d recommend they respond :)

    In general, I think you could expect questions about how experienced are you with working with interdisciplinary teams, families, accessing community resources and coordinating discharge plans.

    With regard to getting a feeling about the level of safety, I suggest that you include a question about this when you are asked: “do you have any questions?”

    I’d probably suggest wording your question as something like: “What type of safety precautions are taken with respect to the care and treatment of the criminal inmates?”

    If that doesn’t get at you are looking for, it would be quite natural for you to follow up with, how often has a social worker found him/herself in danger or something like that.

    Wishing you the best of luck!

  60. says

    Very helpful questions to prepare for interview. I am going for a social worker trainee interview on march 13th at DCF. CT, do you have any update on what to expect. I interned with them last year.

  61. says

    DCF (department of children and families) is the Child Protective Services in Connectcut . Job description includes providing highly skilled case work services for children and youth. Maintains medical,physical, social and psychological histories; counsels, investigates and makes recommendations for the court on petitions regarding abuse or neglect of children. Recruits and selects foster and adoptive homes for placements, consults with other professionals and staff to administer treatment plans; consult with the community and groups to determine appropriate referrals and develop community resources; may supervise volunteers.

  62. says

    Hi Lorraine,

    Aside from the general type questions, you could get asked:

    What kind of experience do you have on working with children who have been abused or neglected?

    What are some of the signs that you would be keeping an eye open for to indicate that a child may be suffering from abuse and/or neglect?

    A student tells you that he/she is being abused. What would you do?

    What experience do you have in terms of coordinating and/or finding local community resources/referrals for your clients?

    What experience have you had in working with parents/caregivers/foster parents?

    What are some of the qualities that you would be looking for in foster/adoptive parents?

    What methods do you use to engage children and youth?

    What kind of experience do you have in terms of working collaboratively with other professionals?

    Are you familiar with any evidence-based therapeutic techniques such as CBT or motivational interviewing? What experience, if any, do you have with play or art therapy?

    Lastly, you may want to look at this video https://www.azdes.gov/dcyf/cmdps/cps/job.asp The Arizona Dept of Human Services posts this to provide potential employees with a realistic view of what a career in child protective services may look like.

    Wishing you the best of luck!

  63. says

    Hi, I have a second interview for casework with child protection services. Basically it will be an hour of sitting with caseworkers, looking through referrals together and deciding if there should be a house visit or not. Any advice on how I can prepare for this? I already read up on the laws for that county..Thanks!

  64. says

    Hi Jennifer,

    Congrats on passing the first round of interviews. We’d love to hear those questions when you get a chance.

    With respect to your second interview, I think it would be a good idea to be familiar with the laws in your state about what constitutes abuse and neglect and be prepared for questions like:

    What are the risk and protective factors that you would be looking for? [see https://www.childwelfare.gov/preventing/pdfs/riskprotectivefactors.pdf
    How good are you in terms of organization and multi-tasking [provide a relevant example that illustrates you juggling the cases of several clients, and having some sort of scheduling conflict and how you managed]
    When making a home visit, you may be greeted with hostility… how would you go about trying to establish a rapport?
    How flexible are you in terms of your schedule [are you able to work beyond 9 to 5 when needed]?
    How strong are your writing/documenting skills? [provide an example]
    What experience have you had in working with children who have been sexually/physically abused?
    What experience have you had in working with families? [provide an example]

    Wishing you the best of luck!

  65. Deepak says

    Hi Dorleem, would you please suggest any general interview questions for an international NGO working in South Asia! The position is Disaster Risk Management Advisor.

  66. says

    Hi Deepak,

    Disaster Risk Management Advisors are a bit out of the realm of social work; however, I can try to guess-estimate a few general questions:

    What experience do you have in the area of disaster risk management? Can you give an example of an emergency response that you have led or helped organize? What were the challenges you faced?
    What type of training/certifications do you have?
    How will your particular type of training/experience be of help with the concerns in South Asia?
    What experience have you had in training and supporting staff to handle emergencies?
    What knowledge/experience do you have vis a vis research methodologies and evaluation for humanitarian assistance?
    Can you provide an example on how you have been successful in forging partnerships with local communities, NGOs and government counterparts?

    You may also find these 3 docs helpful:

    Asia-Pacific Input Document for the Post-2015 Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction

    Community Based Disaster Risk Management in South East Asia

    Climate and Development Knowledge Network Guide

    Wishing you the best of luck!

  67. Anonymous says

    Hi, I have an interview for social work assistant in the disabilities team next Monday. I wondered if you had any ideas of what sort of questions ill be facing? or any idea what a 15min assessment may be?

    I am currently a residential worker

    any help would be greatly appreciated.



  68. says

    Sorry that I couldn’t help you out. I usually need at least a few days notice (plus it helps to get as much of the description as possible).

    If you happen to remember some of the questions you were asked, please do come back and share them :)

    Wishing you the best of luck!

  69. says

    Hi Bekki,

    Yes, that was in reply to you :) How did your interview go? Do you happen to remember some of the questions you were asked?


  70. says

    Hello Dorlee,

    First of all thank you for taking the time to write your blog and for the helpful tips. I have taken and passed the LA County Children’s and Family Social Worker Trainee exam and have been invited for an oral interview. I have no experience in the field and have been trying to prepare for it by matching my skills and knowledge gained from my Psy degree to the job’s duties and responsibilities. I have read that the interview is conducted in order to be evaluated how well we communicate and to determain whether our skills are a match for the job.
    I am really hoping to get the job as I enjoy helping others especially children who are in need of help. I have a passion for the field but I am concerned I might not be well prepared as I don’t know what to expect. Any help/tips from you would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you so much.

  71. says

    Hi Karent,

    Thank you for your kind feedback. My hope is that the interview that I conducted with the CPS social worker (that just went live today) will be of help to you. He shared some specific questions that you could expect to be asked.

    In addition, you may find some relevant questions in this post http://www.dorleem.com/2013/09/got-school-social-work-interview-21.html While the focus is on school social work, there would be some overlap.

    In general, I think it would be good if you have in hand 2 or 3 examples of cases in which you worked with children (in some capacity) to share that illustrate your mastery of the skills that you would need to have for this position (based upon the specific job description). And any skills that you do not have, you are willing and eager to learn…

    Wishing you the best of luck!

    • Anonymous says

      Hello Dorlee,

      Thank you so much for your advice and tips! I will definitely look into it I’m sure it will be of great help.


  72. says

    Hi DorleeM. I will be interviewing for a social service career trainee position in a week and have no experience in this field. I have a B.A in sociology and trying to prepare for this interview. Can you give me some advice and/or tips? :)

  73. says

    Hi Ericka,

    I would try as best as you can to show position the course work you have taken and any positions (paid or voluntary) you have held are similar to courses one would take had you pursued an undergraduate degree in social work (or been employed as a social worker).

    In other words, try to show as much relevant knowledge and experience as you can on the one hand plus interest and willingness to learn on the other.

    In this manner, you are demonstrating that you are coming in with a good background and a desire to grow – exactly what the supervisor would be looking for in a social service career trainee!

    If you can, please come back to let us know how you think it went and what questions you were asked.

    Wishing you the best of luck!

  74. Anonymous says

    Hello Dorleem
    I am a first time user and I am excited to find a resourceful place to refer to. I have applied and interviewed for the position of a social worker in a short and long term facility/nursing home. I emailed a thank you for the interview, and I followed up after a week had gone by with an email. “I know you mentioned you were hoping to make a final hiring decision within a week-two week time frame. I wanted to follow up and see where you are in that process” (me). The supervisor’s respond was this, “I have not been given the ok to choose a candidate yet. Nobody has been hired yet” (supervisor). No sign off of her name or position just that sentence. I wanted to take this opportunity to ask more questions about the position any suggestions?
    p.s. I did not know how to identify myself or which to select

  75. Anonymous says

    I have a interview on Monday for a social work position at a nursing home. I am currenty working at an adult daycare as a social worker, and this is where I was able to gain experience working with elderly. My internships focused on children and homeless single adults males. I wanted to know if you could help me. I tend to get nervous and flustered during interviews sometimes. What kind of questions should I expect? Thanks

  76. says

    Hello Anonymous,

    There is a very delicate balance in terms of following up after an interview… you can follow up as you did but then in light of the response you received, I think you need to give that person a few weeks break, so to speak. Otherwise, you could be perceived as a bit bothersome. Also, when you do try to follow up again once more in 3 or 4 weeks, perhaps consider sharing an article (or some additional information about yourself) that you think the interviewer may find some value in.

    My gut feeling is that under the current circumstances you cannot ask more questions about the position.

    Wishing you the best of luck!

  77. says

    Hi Anonymous 2,

    I would try as best as you can to show how the responsibilities and skills you are employing as a social worker in adult daycare are similar to those listed/described in the job description for the social work position at the nursing home.

    For example, in your current position you have probably had to help manage the relationship between your client, his/her family and the staff – try to think of a good example of when you have done this so that you could share this. This story then becomes a good demonstration of how you would be able to handle a similar situation in the nursing home…

    In terms of interviewing anxiety, I think you’ll find this article helpful http://www.dorleem.com/2013/04/how-to-tame-your-job-interview-anxiety.html

    Wishing you the best of luck!

  78. says

    Hello Dorlee and thank you for your helpful blog! I am a new MSW graduate and I have an interview at a California correctional facility and was wondering if you had any insight into what types of case questions they might ask. I know it is a panel interview with several questions. I do have experience working in a correctional facility with minors at the county level. Thank you so much!

  79. says

    Hi Tetienne,

    Thanks for your kind feedback. I’d like you to wish you the best of luck on your upcoming interview :)

    Can you share a copy of the job posting? This would help me get a better idea of what type of case scenarios you may be asked.

    In the interim, you may find this resource helpful – it discusses the mental health courts and provides links to free trainings available on the topic https://www.bja.gov/ProgramDetails.aspx?Program_ID=68

    And this resource provides you with a quick overview of some of the hot topics in the area of corrections http://www.cdc.gov/idu/facts/cj-transition.pdf

    Also, if it’s not too much trouble, please do come back and share some of the questions you’ve been asked.

    Wishing you the best of luck!

  80. Anonymous says

    I have an interview for a child protection social work position tomorrow and its a behavioural interview. Any tips and hints as this is first time doing this style of interview?