A challenging yet emotionally rewarding profession, a job as a social worker is the perfect choice for committed individuals who want to make a difference in the world. Although there are plenty of opportunities to move into social work, the interviewing process still makes many people nervous.

In fact the questions likely to be asked at interview are usually fairly predictable and good interview etiquette can significantly increase the chances of success.

Before the interview.

Arriving fully prepared for an interview makes it much easier to create a good impression. A candidate who speaks fluently and easily about the work at hand will always look good. For this reason, candidates should not only read up on the hiring organisation, they should also read over their own CVs and think in depth about positions they have held in the past. This might include work placements, voluntary positions and even training courses attended.

Being able to give immediate, in-depth answers about these matters will avoid a situation in which hesitation makes it look as if the candidate is straining for answers because they do not have the level of experience they claim in their CV.

Handling questions.

No matter how well prepared a candidate is, it is always possible that there will be a question that seems to come out of the blue, leaving them floundering. Rather than falling silent or babbling incoherently, the correct way to handle this situation is to acknowledge surprise and buy time by asking the interviewer to clarify what was meant by the question.

Acknowledging difficulty should not be an issue. As a rule, employers are not looking for people who never have problems; instead they are looking for people who are able to resolve awkward situations. Candidates should always be aware that, especially in a field like social work where ethical questions are likely to arise, there sometimes are no right answers. What matters in these situations is demonstrating a thorough understanding of the issues at hand. Furthermore, employers know perfectly well that not all problems can be resolved by social workers themselves.

They are generally looking for individuals who are aware of their own limitations and know when and how to ask for help. An interview does not have to be all about reacting to difficult questions. Smart candidates are proactive; they set out with their own agenda and carefully interpret questions in ways that provide opportunities for them to promote themselves.

Following up.

After an interview is concluded many candidates just sit and wait by the phone. Many assume they will not have been successful, which may be true in many cases and will do nothing. However, some interviewers need to be prompted about their decisions, so if a week has passed with no feedback it is perfectly acceptable to contact them to ask what is happening. Obviously if we're representing you we'll be gathering your feedback and the client's asap.

Often, when decisions are delayed, it is because the interviewer is torn between two candidates. In such cases a follow-up call can make all the difference. Even if it does not mean getting the job, it might encourage the employer to keep the caller’s name on file and prioritise that person when another opportunity arises. In some cases employers will even create new positions in order to bring impressive second-place candidates into their teams.