Sample Social Worker Interview Questions and Answers

Show employers that you know your social work stuff.

Sample Social Worker Interview Questions and Answers

Answer social worker interview questions with confidence.

The need for social workers is growing. After choosing this career, you'll need to focus on a specialty area like mental health, substance abuse, hospital, child and family, end-of-life care, or school social work. Before they hire you, potential employers will ask you a series of targeted social worker interview questions to determine if you're suited to the job and that specialty.

Before your first interview for a social work job, read through our list of some of the most common social work interview questions and answers.

Social Worker Interview Questions

  1. Why Did You Go Into Social Work?
  2. What Kinds of Clients Do You Find the Most Difficult to Work With, and Why?
  3. What Would You Do if a Client Acted Aggressively Toward a Suggestion You Made?
  4. Tell Me About Your Experience With Our Target Clients? How Did You Build Relationships With Them?
  5. What Strategies Do You Use for Crisis Intervention?
  6. What Are the Signs of Abuse?
  7. Are You Prepared to Make Home Visits?
  8. How Would You Implement Behavioral and Mental Health Services for Students?

Question #1: Why Did You Go Into Social Work?

This question allows you to talk about yourself, your background, and your commitment to the profession. Go beyond the standard answer of, "Because I want to help people:"

  • Explain what you want to do in your career and why.
  • Tell a story about the first time you felt it was the career for you.
  • Communicate passion for the job.

How You Could Answer

"Social work appeals to me because I see so many people struggling with mental health issues who need help and support. In my junior year of college, I shadowed a social worker who specialized in mental health cases. She made quite an impression. I learned so much about mental illness, the stigma attached to getting help, and the resources available that so few know of."

Question #2: What Kinds of Clients Do You Find the Most Difficult to Work With, and Why?

Employers ask a prospective social worker interview questions about challenging situations to find out how well they handle stress and how they remain positive despite the circumstances:

  • Avoid being negative or blaming the client when answering this or any other social worker interview questions.
  • Talk about why someone is motivated to be difficult.
  • Accept some responsibility in handling different personality types.

How You Could Answer

"A client who has given up is the most difficult for me. I have found this often comes from being confused and frustrated by the system and feeling abandoned by others in their life. The challenge for a social worker is to remain positive and find concrete ways to help."

Question #3: What Would You Do if a Client Acted Aggressively Toward a Suggestion You Made?

You'll notice that many social worker interview questions are situational, focusing on how you would handle various scenarios you'll encounter in social work. In this question, the interviewer wants to see that you can remain calm, have a method for diffusing tense situations, and continue doing your job to support the client:

  • Stay positive, professional, and calm when answering.
  • Describe the strategy you've used in this type of situation.
  • Show you have sound decision-making skills when it comes to safety.

How You Could Answer

"The most important thing is to remain calm. Try to find the source of the aggression by asking questions and repeating the client's answers back so she knows you're listening. Work as a team with the client to find a solution. In the case of aggression or hostility that has the potential to become dangerous to me or others, I would implement the established protocol to make sure everyone remained safe."

Question #4: Tell Me About Your Experience With Our Target Clients? How Did You Build Relationships With Them?

If your social work interview is with an organization with a specific client profile, they'll want to make sure you'll be comfortable with them. Talk about your experience with that population, using a specific example. Focus on your actions that led to results.

  • Show your enthusiasm and compassion for your clients.
  • Talk about the importance of empathizing with your clients' struggles.
  • Show you relate to their world.
  • Talk about the importance of listening.

How You Could Answer

"I've worked with people who face homelessness and mental illness since high school, when I served meals at the Haven of Rest shelter every Saturday. The folks that came in were looking for so much more than food. I walk around and talk to them. Some ignored me, and others seemed comforted that I listened to them without being judgmental or telling them what they should do. I tried to make them feel more comfortable by dressing down and not wearing jewelry or anything that showed I was well-off. Several of the clients I became friends with moved into the shelter and began using its mental health services."

Question #5: What Strategies Do You Use for Crisis Intervention?

The interviewer wants to know that your strategies mirror the job description and that you have conflict-resolution skills, the ability to prioritize, and empathy:

  • Check the job description before your interview to align your experiences and beliefs.
  • Walk through basic crisis intervention best practices.
  • Tell a story about a time you were involved in a crisis intervention.

How You Could Answer

"I saw that your organization uses the Roberts and Ottens seven-stage crisis intervention model: Assess the injury and imminent danger, form a collaborative relationship, identify the root of the crisis, talk about feelings and emotions, talk about coping strategies, implement an action plan, and schedule a follow-up. During my internship at a women's shelter, a woman came in with her children, showing signs of physical abuse that didn't require hospitalization. She was afraid her husband would find her there. I validated her feelings of fear but reassured her that she was safe. We set up a plan for her to stay at the shelter for three nights while she contacted family who would take her in. I told her I would check in with her the next day."

Question #6: What Are the Signs of Abuse?

This is one of several social worker interview questions that assesses your competence in dealing with the prevalent and serious problem of abuse:

  • Focus on being factual, with quick, serious answers.
  • List the signs of abuse.

How You Could Answer

"It can be difficult to recognize when a person who is homeless has suffered abuse. You need to rely on the five signs of abuse: You may witness abuse. You notice the person is withdrawn and reclusive. You see signs of physical abuse that don't match the person's story. They exhibit unusual behavior like going to great lengths to cover cuts and bruises. And they have overriding fear they are doing something wrong."

Question #7: Are You Prepared to Make Home Visits?

Home visits are critical to effective social work. You need to assure the interviewer you understand the risks and emotional challenges they present:

  • Start by saying you are indeed prepared for home visits.
  • Acknowledge they are challenging and may become risky but are essential.
  • Convey confidence that you know how to handle uncomfortable or potentially dangerous situations.

How You Could Answer

"I am absolutely prepared for home visits—they are a critical tool for social workers. I know they can be risky, and you need to be ready for the emotional challenge. If I sensed a potentially dangerous situation, I would remain calm and seek help when needed."

Question #8: How Would You Implement Behavioral and Mental Health Services for Students?

If you're applying to be a school social worker, interview questions about your experiences with both children and adults are important:

  • Demonstrate your knowledge of student mental health issues.
  • Explain who you need to involve and why.

How You Could Answer

"Children's mental health issues directly affect their ability to learn. When working with a student, it's important to coordinate with teachers and other staff. They provide information about how a student behaves in the classroom, so we can pinpoint what support they need. They also help to monitor the student's progress."

Feel Confident When Answering Social Worker Interview Questions

It may be challenging to provide complete, strong answers to some social worker interview questions, but you've got this! Now go get recruiters' attention by creating your Monster profile. Once you do, we can start sending you job alerts and other helpful job search tips from our career experts.