Social Work Interviewing Techniques

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    Introductions

    • Introduce yourself and make the candidate feel welcome. Before jumping into complex questions, use a few questions related to past work experience to break the ice. Inquire about social work training or experience, or the candidate's strengths and weaknesses. For example, does the candidate work better in a team environment or independently?

    Behavioral Interviewing

    • Behavioral interviewing is a common technique in the social work field. This sort of questioning should yield an example of an experience that shaped a specific outcome. For example, an interviewer might say, "Tell me about a time when you were under a lot of pressure and how you handled it."
      These questions cannot be answered with a simple yes or no, and will provide insight into the job candidate's behavior. His behavior in past situations arms you with the information you need to predict how he will handle similar situations in the future.
      Since the social work field revolves around working with people and how people behave, the answers to behavioral questions are especially helpful. There are no right or wrong answers to behavioral questions; they simply reveal patterns of behavior.

    Situational Interviewing

    • This interviewing style poses questions to figure out how the candidate would handle a specific situation that might arise. To pose this sort of question, figure out common situations that your candidate may encounter, and ask her specific questions about how she would handle them. For example, you might say to the candidate, "Give an example of how you have handled a complaint from an unhappy client." Her answers will help you figure out if she possesses the skills and training you desire.

    Panel Interviewing

    • Although panel interviewing can be intimidating for job candidates, it is very useful in obtaining different perspectives. Each member of your panel should have his own set of questions he is prepared to ask. Some of these questions should include specific matters that job candidates would encounter on the job.

    Job Philosophy

    • To gain perspective of the candidate, ask him what motivated him to work in the field. Since social work is geared toward community and assisting the poor or those who need social welfare, this question will reveal the candidate's philosophy regarding social work.

    Wrapping Up

    • Give the candidate examples of what a day on the job would be like--what type of people she would be working with and the background of the situations she would encounter. Make sure the candidate is not intimidated by this type of work. Give her a time line of when you will contact her if she is the desired candidate for the job. Before offering anyone a position, however, be sure to run a background check.

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