How often do you think about the end of your interview?
When the final question is directed to you; the new prospective employee.... Do you have any questions for us?
Most of you will want to leave the interview immediately and add in a rushed, 'no thank you', so you can exit, get some kind of alcoholic beverage and wait impatiently to hear about whether you have been successful.
I'm asking you to do something different.
Start with valuing yourself. I know you need this job but the employers need you. You are a qualified or soon to be qualified social worker with skills, knowledge and enthusiasm. Please start believing what a benefit you will be to a team.
You need to know that the job you accept is right for you, and the only way to do that is by asking some questions of your own.
So when you get the opportunity, at the end of the interview, here are 5 questions you need to ask and the reasons why:
1. How often do you review individual caseloads?
Most people ask 'what's the average caseload', but knowing this is pointless without any context. You need to know how the caseloads are reviewed. In social work a caseload can look 'low' in terms of numbers, but the complexity can be high. You need to know how your prospective team will manage this.
2. What is the current level of experience in the team?
It's important you know how your future team is made up. If you are one of five newly qualified social workers, who are you going to learn from? If you are the most experienced worker then there is a chance more complex work will immediately be allocated to you. Be confident in asking questions about the team you are joining.
3. How do you support flexible working?
I know working from home can give some of us cabin fever but it doesn't mean it shouldn't be an option. Flexible working should mean flexible working but make sure you ask explicitly about this. Don't be afraid to ask for examples.
4. What do you offer staff who are at risk of burnout?
Burnout is real. We know it. You probably want to be employed by someone who understands this and is making efforts towards helping. Pay attention to the reaction to this question. You need this to be taken seriously and will give you an indication of how you are likely to be treated.
5. Can I see an example of an induction plan?
I speak to social workers all the time who have struggled with not having a high standard of induction. This is a huge part of starting a new job so the answer to this question will give you an idea of how much thought goes into inductions for new staff. It also means that when you start your job, you can reference back to what you were originally told at interview.
This is your prospective job. You want to know that you are making the right choice and the organisation needs you as much as (if not more) than you need them. This is the only chance you get to ask questions to decide if the job is what you want.
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Got an interview coming up?
My interview skills training guides you through everything you need to know for an interview in children's services.
-key areas of knowledge and skills
-recap of legislation (s.17 and s.47)
-how to talk about assessments
-child centred practice
-multi agency working
-Includes example questions and reflections to ensure you feel prepared for interview and beyond