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School Social Worker Interview Questions

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  1. What is your typical practice framework for working with students? See answer
  2. How do you handle working in group settings such as in IEP meetings? See answer
  3. How do you offer education, behavior and mental health services to students? See answer
  4. How do you promote an environment that is conducive to helping each child succeed? See answer
  5. How do you maximize students’ access to school and community resources? See answer
  6. What are the primary strategies you use to establish trust with a new student or class? See answer
  7. What methods do you implement to coordinate the efforts of teachers, counselors and guardians to support a student?
  8. Are you comfortable being a mandatory reporter and contacting the authorities if you learn about suspected abuse or neglect?
  9. What would you do if you noticed that a teacher was treating a student unfairly in class and impacting their wellbeing?
  10. Do you have any experience performing house calls to visit students in their home environment?
  11. What metrics do you use to track a student’s emotional and social progress and measure their growth over time?
  12. How do you confront students about dangerous or harmful behaviors without making them feel attacked or judged?
  13. What groups and organizations in the community would you like to partner with to provide resources to our students? How would you cultivate those relationships?
  14. It can be difficult for students to take the initiative to reach out about problems they’re experiencing. How do you encourage students to approach you if they need help or support?
  15. When a student is struggling with multiple issues at once, how do you determine your priorities and decide what to focus on?
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6 School Social Worker Interview Questions and Answers

Q:

What is your typical practice framework for working with students?

A:

A candidate’s answer to this question will reveal their experience working with clients in a school setting and the social work theories that they base their practice on. This will help you to determine if they practice in a way that aligns with how the school works. What to look for in an answer:

  • Knowledge of relevant methods and techniques
  • Competence in social work in a school setting
  • Knowledge of best practices

Example:

“Since its inception in 2013, I’ve followed the National School Social Work Practice Model as my framework, which ensures delivery of education, behavior and mental health services.”

Q:

How do you handle working in group settings such as in IEP meetings?

A:

The answer to this question will show you how the school social worker handles possible conflict and their ability to understand where other people are coming from. You want a candidate who can see the bigger picture of a student’s educational needs in order to provide them with the supports that they need. They should be willing to work with the students’ parents and collaboratively problem solve. What to look for in an answer:

  • Ability to work well in group settings
  • Willingness to collaborate with other professionals
  • Working knowledge of the IEP process

Example:

“I collaborate with the other professionals and the parents of the student to conduct a functional behavioral analysis and to prioritize the student’s primary needs while developing the best intervention plan possible. I try to listen to the parent’s request for their child, and I try to accommodate them the best that I can.”

Q:

How do you offer education, behavior and mental health services to students?

A:

You want a candidate who possesses unique expertise in both child and family work and who is able to address school and community issues that impede educational success. Preferably, you want your school social worker to have consultative skills that can help other faculty and staff adhere to any given intervention with students. What to look for in an answer:

  • Awareness of multi-tiered programs to encourage positive academic and behavioral outcomes in students
  • Ability to evaluate the effectiveness of their work
  • Dedication to monitoring the progress of their students

Example:

“I implement strengths-based, multi-tiered programs to help students expand upon their existing skill sets and identify the areas in which they need extra support.”

Q:

How do you promote an environment that is conducive to helping each child succeed?

A:

A school social worker helps to create an environment in the school that fosters academic achievement. Look for a candidate who mentions policies and procedures that create safe environments and makes an effort to advocate for effective practices. The school social worker should be at the hub of creating a well-oiled machine for the school that leads to success. What to look for in an answer:

  • Ability to enhance best practices within the school
  • Knowledge of effective and safe policies and procedures
  • Understanding of the importance to foster a supportive relationships between students, parents, staff and community partners

Example:

“I ensure there are policies in place to foster academic learning, and I advocate for relationship building among students and within the community.”

Q:

How do you maximize students’ access to school and community resources?

A:

The candidate’s answer to this question will illustrate their macro-practice competence in school social work. Look for an answer that mentions coordinating services within the school and reaching out to community partners to get services for the students. It would be best if they mentioned challenging existing barriers to accessing mental health, behavioral and juvenile justice resources that promote academic and behavioral success for all of the students. What to look for in an answer:

  • Knowledge of the services schools provide
  • Ability to navigate service delivery systems
  • Ability to provide interdisciplinary collaboration and coordination

Example:

“I promote a continuum of services by offering innovative leadership that coordinates all systems and ensures that all of the students’ needs are met.

Q:

What are the primary strategies you use to establish trust with a new student or class?

A:

School social workers rely on having a trusting relationship with students to do their jobs. They need each student's trust to successfully discover the factors influencing a problem and implement meaningful change. It can be challenging for students to build trust with a new adult in their lives, especially if they are already struggling. Interviewers ask this question to determine if a candidate has the empathy, emotional intelligence and awareness to cultivate trust with students in a healthy way.

A good answer should show:

  • Compassion for students
  • Patience
  • Relationship-building

Here is a response that addresses these points:

Example:

"I find the best way to build trust is to model the behavior I hope to see from students. Introducing who I am and what I do to each class is important so they can ask me questions and feel less intimidated. I make an effort to be warm and friendly with each student, getting to know their name, interests and goals before honing in on serious issues. I also model the behavior I expect from them, treating them with honesty, respect and openness when discussing challenging issues."

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