Working as a social worker, and that too in the setting of a school requires quite a lot of skill and experience. And both these are checked when you appear for an interview.
Questions aiming to understand how well you can handle the work will be asked by prospective employers who want to hire the best. Also, you will be judged on your knowledge of reaching out to students going through tough times and providing them with well-placed assistance.
During the interview process, you will basically be judged on your ability to handle often emotionally taxing work. And your knowledge of developing the right type of plans to meet the individual needs of each student will also be tested.
Hence, you have to prepare for your interview by determining what questions you may be asked.
Here is a set to help you:
1. Tell us a little about yourself.
I have been working as a school social worker for 10+ years. My interest in this work stemmed from the time that volunteered my services in a social work capacity and realized just how much students require external help to cope with issues that no one talks about.
2. What duties have you performed specifically in this regard?
I have been performing a wide array of tasks while working as a school social worker. These include counseling students with personal and psychological issues that may affect their performance and wellbeing. Apart from this, I have been busy providing counseling sessions and establishing prevention programs. Moreover, my duties include communicating with students to determine areas in which they need assistance, and ensuring that their progress is properly gauged and monitored.
3. In your opinion, what skills do you possess which make you an excellent person to hire as a school social worker?
I possess a huge array of skills which make me an excellent person to hire as a school social worker. Specifically, I am well-versed in reaching out to even the most reluctant of students, and determining their particular problems. Additionally, I am competent in helping students function effectively within a classroom environment, and can assist in remediation. Also, I am proficient in communicating with children and adults, which helps me in determining issues more profoundly.
4. What do you like most about working as a school social worker?
I love the fact that I can help children, and young adults deal with their issues and problems, making them functional individuals.
5. And what do you like least about working at this position?
I feel that I sometimes delve too deep into cases, making it difficult for me to remain emotionally detached.
6. What do you know about promoting an environment that is conducive to helping students succeed?
I focus on ensuring that policies are properly put into place and that relationship-building is made a priority.
7. How do you assess the needs of each student?
I work with all students on a one on one basis to determine their specific problems and challenges. I talk to them to find out their insecurities and issues. Once I have all the information, I make sure that I create a plan according to their individual needs.
8. How do you deal with issues pertaining to domestic / child abuse?
If I get as much as a hint of abuse, I delve right into finding out for sure what is happening. And before the child comes to more harm, I make it my priority to report the issue to the school authorities, so that they may further intervene.
9. What is the most difficult thing about working in this position?
I feel that the most difficult part is seeing a child or young adult in the pain of any sort. One can never get used to it.
10. How do you balance your work and personal life?
I must say that it was not easy to balance my work and personal life when I first began working as a school social worker. However, with time, I learned to prioritize both, and now, I have no issues in handling either.
11. In your opinion, what kind of students are the most difficult to work with?
Students who do not open up are quite difficult to work with. If I don’t know what they are suffering from, it is difficult to help them.
12. Does this happen often?
Quite often. Children’s trust is difficult to gain. They are always on their guard.
13. How do you bring children out of their shells?
I have been greatly successful in bringing children out of their shells. I create and implement individualized plans to reach out to each child. I make sure that I am not impatient, and whatever information that they do provide, I build upon it.
14. What is your greatest strength?
My greatest strength is my ability to effectively reach out to even the most reluctant of students. With my mannerisms, I can make them talk even when they are feeling shy, scared, or generally apprehensive.
15. What is your greatest weakness?
A weakness that I have recently overcome is becoming attached to students whom I work with.
16. What is a vivid sign of abuse?
I have seen that mood swings are the most obvious sign of emotional abuse. Where physical abuse is concerned, I look for unexplained bruises and cuts or scars. Broken toys and eyeglasses are also telltale signs of abuse.
17. How do you handle aggressive students?
Aggression is part of the bigger picture where children are concerned. If I come across an aggressive student, I never retaliate. I try to calm them down, and then delve into what caused the aggression.
18. Tell us of a time when you helped a student adjust to a new school?
I was once working on a case where a student who had been transferred from another school a year ago was having trouble settling in. After investigating, I realized that he was being bullied by another student, which made him withdrawn, and unable to work in class. I managed to diffuse the situation by talking to the boy who was bullying and then making sure that both became friends.
19. What is your method of handling issues related to unrelenting parents?
I speak to parents in a professional manner, making sure that they comprehend my intervention. If I experience resistance, I change my strategy to a less aggressive one. If that fails, I usually have no choice but to offer a verdict.
20. As far as teachers are concerned, how does your work pan out?
I am in constant touch with teachers and staff members to ensure that they remain on top of things. I keep them in the loop about their students, and also counsel and teach them to ensure that they remain on the same levels as their students – and are able to understand their issues.
21. Tell us about a challenge or conflict that you have had to face at the workplace.
I have had to face many challenges and conflicts, as, in this line of work, both these are the norm. However, the most challenging work that I have done was with a preschool child, who was being abused at home. The parents were amazed when they would meet me, but the child was withdrawn and unhappy. It took me 3 months to obtain enough evidence to present my case. It was quite a harrowing time for me as I was somewhat emotionally involved due to the age of the child.
22. Tell me about a time that you failed.
I regret not being able to help this 10-year old child who obviously had a learning disability that the parents were not ready to accept. Before I could present my case, they took her out of school and disappeared from the state.
23. Why do you want to leave your current job?
I am interested in helping a student body that has more definite issues. I feel that I can effectively do that in a school where the student body is larger.
24. What type of work environment are you looking for?
I am interested in working in an environment that is conducive to my expertise. I love challenges, which is why I decided to change my job in the first place.
25. How do you deal with pressure or stressful situations?
Stress is all in a day’s work for me. I manage stress by taking breaks, and by meditating as often as I can.
26. What motivates you?
I am a self-motivated individual, who banks highly on challenges for external motivation.
27. If we hire you, when can you join us?
I have a few pending cases that I need to finish before I can move on. I can join as soon as they are done.
28. Where do you see yourself in 5 years from now?
I hope to be working with high school students, particularly to help them with hormone-related stress.
29. Do you have any questions for us?
I would like to know more about the strength of your social worker team.