If you want a job as a social worker, then you need to nail your interview. Here's how you can do just that:

  • understand your role
  • know your skills and experience
  • follow instructions in your application
  • tailor your application and interview to the job

Social worker job interviews.

Social work jobs are highly competitive, so when putting together a job application, it’s important to approach it in the right way. By keeping the following tips in mind when you’re completing your application, you will stand a much better chance of securing an interview – maybe even guaranteeing it.

Understand the role.

Before even thinking about working on your CV or filling in the application form, make sure that you are very clear about the role you’re applying for. This might sound obvious, but a close reading of the job description and person specification will help you to understand the duties and skills involved and what the employer is looking for.

If the ‘Essential’ criteria states that you need something in particular, like ‘at least two years’ qualified social work experience with people with Learning Disabilities’ or a certain qualification you don’t have – don’t even waste time applying. ‘Essential’ means what it says – and they absolutely cannot shortlist anyone who doesn’t demonstrate this essential qualification, skill, knowledge, quality or experience. But additional words like ‘… or equivalent’ do give you more flexibility to prove it.

Pick out any key words that really stand out and highlight them ‒ this will help you to tailor your application to the precise job.

Reflect on your skills and experience
Once you’re clear exactly what the employer is looking for, and what is needed in the role, reflect on your own experience, skills and qualities. Think about relevant placements, previous employment and the particular skills and working practices you have developed through these. Can you demonstrate transferable skills? Then ask yourself if you really would be a good fit for the role you’re thinking of applying for.
Your chances of getting to interview are far greater if you apply for positions that are relevant to your existing skill set and experience.

Follow instructions.

Again, this may sound obvious, but ensure that you complete your application in the way that the employer expects. Local authorities and most large organisations have their own unique application process, so when applying for a social work position the likelihood is that you’ll need to fill in a form rather than simply submit a CV and covering letter. Your ability to follow instructions in the application process reflects on your attention to detail and is a factor in the selection process.

Tailor your application.

Employers are only interested in experience and skills that are relevant to the role for which they’re recruiting, so teasing out the most relevant aspects of your own skills, knowledge and experience to focus your application will demonstrate that you are a good candidate. If you’re applying on an application form, you may be asked to submit a written statement outlining what it is that makes you a good fit for the role. Keep the person specification in mind, think about any keywords you picked out, quote them and demonstrate with examples of how you meet these, highlighting relevant skills and experience. Refer to your knowledge of appropriate legislation, policy and practice developments. Elaborate on your strengths, but be clear and concise.

Tips for CVs.

Even if applying for a job requiring an application form, you may also be asked to submit a CV in support of your application. Tailor your CV in the same way as you would an application form or written statement, making sure that everything you include is relevant to the role you’re applying for, and echoing back key words or shifting the emphasis on most pertinent skills, etc. Keep your CV to 2-3 pages (maximum) and explain any gaps in employment (e.g. maternity leave, returning to study, travelling).

Take your time.

Start gathering your thoughts as soon as you receive the application pack. Don’t leave it till the last minute and don’t rush your application. Take time to think about the best way to present yourself; brainstorm thoughts and ideas, and draft your responses and written statement on paper before committing them to the form. Before submitting your application, it’s also well worth taking the time to proofread it to check for spelling and grammar mistakes. If you’re not confident about doing this yourself, ask a friend to help.

Finally – good luck!