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“One person can make a difference,” said former President John F. Kennedy once, “and everyone should try.” Kennedy’s words offer a simple but powerful statement about why many school social workers do what they do -- it’s all about making a difference in the lives of students. Before a school social worker can do that, however, she has to first get a job. In the process of interviewing for a school social worker job, interviewers will ask many significant questions pertaining to the candidate’s experience, social work framework, and her specific strategies for working with students and colleagues.
Experience in the Field
A large portion of school social worker interview questions will focus on the candidate’s experience in the field. Specifically, interviewers will want to know how many years you’ve worked as a social worker in schools and what types of students you’ve worked with. Interviewers may also be interested to know what experience you have with specific social worker protocols and documents. For example, they may ask if you have ever completed a Positive Behavior Intervention Plan for a student. These types of questions will help interviewers determine whether your experience has adequately prepared you to work in their school.
Methods and Techniques
Interviewers will also ask about your overarching framework for working with students. Your framework is essentially the specific methods or techniques you use. For example, interviewers might want to know how often you pull students for individual or group sessions. They might also ask about how frequently you involve other care professionals, such as counselors or administrators, when working with an individual student. These questions will allow you to describe how you conduct yourself, what methods or techniques you value in working with students and, more importantly, how well your framework will function in the school.
Approach to Different Populations
Though questions about your experience and your framework will give interviewers some notion of how you operate as a school social worker, interviewers will likely want to expand upon this notion by asking you questions about specific groups or types of students. For example, they might describe a fictional scenario in which a student requires assistance and ask how you would approach the situation. These questions will not only offer up a specific example of your framework and experience in action, they will also reveal to the interviewers how well you solve problems on the fly.
Working with Other Professionals
While a school social worker’s primary responsibility is to work with students, your colleagues will be other educational professionals, ranging from principals and deans of students to teachers and counselors. Of equal importance to the interviewers, then, is how you envision yourself working with these other professionals. Interviewers will ask questions about how you plan on cooperating with teachers to assist a troubled student. They will also ask questions about how you will assemble files and offer reports to principals and other administrators about your work and the progress of your students. These types of questions will help interviewers get a sense of how you see yourself fitting in with the school work culture.
Samuel Hamilton has been writing since 2002. His work has appeared in “The Penn,” “The Antithesis,” “New Growth Arts Review" and “Deek” magazine. Hamilton holds a Master of Arts in English education from the University of Pittsburgh, and a Master of Arts in composition from the University of Florida.