There are many blogs on interviewing and some blogs on questions you can encounter in the US, however, I haven’t seen any on the type of questions one encounters when working in the UK. If you’re coming from another country the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) has a great resource on what to expect coming to practice Social Work in the UK. However, below are some questions you might encounter, some general, others specific to children’s social work in the UK. These are general thought provoking questions, many places have them formatted or asked differently.
1 – Why this job? Why do you work to work for (fill in name of the agency)?
2 – How are your skills, knowledge and experience relevant to the job?
3 – Current legislation and policy issues related to the post for which you are applying
4 – What would you consider when undertaking a risk assessment or assessment of need?
5 – How do you take professional responsibility and accountability for your work?
6 – How would you contribute to budget management and achieving best value for money?
7 – What pressures are you likely to encounter in the work place and what strategies do you use to address these pressures?
8 – What skills do you bring to the team?
9 – What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses?
You should be able to think through these questions and come up with coherent and relevant answers that not only showcase your knowledge but what you bring to the work environment.
Children’s Social Care Specific
1 – Steps in conducting a child protection investigation
2 – Steps involved in instituting court proceedings for children
3 – Key performance indicators for looked after children/children in care
4 – What are the 5 outcomes
5 – What skills and experience do you have working with children and families? How would these help you work with our clients?
6 – Examples of working when you worked with a challenging family/child/professional and how you overcame this or continued to work with them
7 – Examples of how you would engage the above
8 – Example of an instance where you were confronted with discrimination (in a broad sense) and what you did/how you addressed it
9 – What is your approach to professional development?
10 – How do you use supervision? What do you see as the purpose for supervision?
11 – How do you prioritize your work in a fast paced environment?
Management specific questions: (might include some of the above depending on the role)
1 – What experience have you had in management?
2 – How would you manage an under performing staff member?
3 – How would you contribute to the organizations change program? (If applicable)
4 – How do you balance your caseload with your management duties? (for Senior Practitioner roles)
5 – What strengths do you bring to this role?
6 – How would you manage supervising your peers? (if going for a promotion)
It is always worth researching as much as possible about an organization and the role for which you are applying. I would take into account people’s opinion about a place but make your own determination. It may be that an organization has a bad reputation, but that may be the best place to go if your interest is in the development of the profession or you want to develop management skills because things may be new. It may be that the organization is going through a period of change but it may be your opportunity to be exposed to a new way of working which you can take elsewhere when you’re ready to move on.
Also when looking at working in Social Work, it is worth considering whether you want to go locum or be a permanent worker.
The pros of being a permanent worker are paid sick leave, paid holiday leave, more opportunity for development and you get the opportunity to settle in. The cons are that you are locked into a notice period so any thought about moving on would have to be planned. Another pro is that if you are looking for a change and have been with an organization for a while you might be able to do this within the organization. It is a matter of discussing your professional development with your manager.
The pros of being a locum/temp worker are that you make more money and you have a greater freedom to move about because you’re not locked into a notice period. The cons are no paid leave, sick or otherwise, some boroughs don’t allow locum/temp workers to participate in certain trainings, having short bursts of employment may worry potential employers and you are expected to “hit the ground running.” Basically, you are expected to be able to do the job with very little interference. This could also be a pro if you’re the type of person that has quite a bit of experience and able to get on with the work.