social worker interview questions for clients

As a social worker, it is important to ask the right questions when interviewing clients and establishing a relationship. It is crucial to create an open and honest dialogue in which clients can express their needs and concerns, and in which social workers can assess the best path forward. Therefore, it is essential to tailor the questions to each individual’s unique needs, rather than relying on a generic set of questions. In this blog post, we will discuss the key questions a social worker should ask their clients to ensure the best outcome for both parties. We will look at the topics these questions should cover, the types of questions that can be asked, and the importance of active listening and empathy. By the end of this post, readers will have a better understanding of the key questions to ask, and how to use them effectively to gain insight into their clients’ needs.

“What do you do when you start feeling anxious?” “How does this situation make you feel?” “How does your living situation make you feel?” “What brought you here today?”

Social Worker-Client Interview 1

Interview Questions for Social Workers:

Provides insight into the case evaluation process.

Describe a time when you helped a client in a time of crisis. How did you react? How did you cope with the stress?

Shows how the candidate handles tense situations.

Describe your toughest case. What made it challenging? What did you learn?

Reveals more about work history.

8 Social Worker Interview Questions and Answers

What type of supervision do you prefer?

Questions such as this one get to cultural fit. For example, if your agency needs social workers who take instruction well, then someone who prefers to work alone independently and to be given a lot of leeway might not be the best fit. Look for:

  • Candidate compatibility
  • Ability to acknowledge weaknesses
  • Reasoning behind preference

What would you do if a client acted aggressively or negatively toward a suggestion you made?

Social workers are expected to react logically and rationally to high-pressure, emergency situations. One that commonly occurs is when a client has a negative reaction toward a piece of advice the social worker recommended, which can sometimes result in aggression. Their answer should be positive, professional and mature as they explain their process for handling difficult clients without making disrespectful comments toward the client. The candidate’s answer should emphasize:

  • Strategy for handling difficult or aggressive clients
  • Ability to stay calm in high-pressure situations
  • Decision-making skills

Tell me about a time when a client disagreed with your approach or treatment plan.

This discussion point lets you measure how well candidates collaborate, communicate and think creatively. It is also another opportunity to ensure that candidates fit your organization’s missions and values. Look for:

  • Flexibility instead of rigidity
  • Orientation toward teamwork
  • Ability to recognize flaws in self

Why did you go into social work?

People go into social work for different reasons, and asking about their motivations lets candidates talk about themselves and reveal background information that they might not be able to otherwise. Look for:

  • Going beyond a generic “desire to help others”
  • Specifics versus generalities
  • A commitment to social work

What is the most important aspect about managing clients’ feelings?

A big duty of social workers is to keep situations as conflict-free as possible so that there can be resolution. Thus, they must often manage clients’ feelings, and that can be no easy task. Look for:

  • Empathy
  • Mention of firm boundaries
  • Ability to remain calm

What are the signs of abuse?

This question assesses candidates’ competence for the job, and one of the most important things they should know has to do with recognizing the signs of abuse in whatever population you work with, be it at-risk youths, children in public schools, the elderly or another segment. Look for:

  • Ability to answer quickly
  • Specifics
  • Factual answers (not answers like, “These poor, pitiful people…”)

What strategies do you use for crisis intervention?

Conflict is inevitable in any field of social work, and this question allows you to check that candidates’ conflict-resolution skills fit what your organization is looking for. You can also use it to check if the candidate is prioritizing skills listed in your job ad (for example, listening with empathy). Look for:

  • Strategies that align with what your organization wants
  • Context they were practiced in
  • Lack of blaming others

What kinds of clients do you find most difficult to work with and why?

Being a social worker is stressful, and many social workers burn out quickly. Asking the above question lets you get an idea of how candidates handle stress and how compatible they might be with your organization. Look for:

  • Some positivity in the answer
  • No disparaging/blaming others or being overly negative
  • Accepting some responsibility in the situation

What are the different types of social work clients?

Similar to the variety of people who might need to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to obtain a driver’s license, the types of clients in social work are diverse.

Clients of social work can be of any age, gender, race, or socioeconomic status. Social workers come into contact with pretty much every type of person at some point during their careers, from assisting with student counseling to helping with medical patients who require outpatient services.

What is one of the first questions social workers should ask a client?

“How can I help you today?” is one of the first questions social workers ask their clients.

Another significant aspect of a social worker’s job is keeping thorough records of each client they are tasked with serving. This question can help you gauge a candidate’s level of experience and provide information about the technology they are proficient with, even though each organization may have a different system for managing information.

Social workers frequently deal with weaker groups that are occasionally abused. It’s crucial for the social worker to be able to recognize abuse since their clients might not be prepared or willing to talk about it, so they can act appropriately to stop it and get their clients the assistance they need.

Social workers must uphold a strict code of ethics. They ought to understand that it is their duty to intervene if they observe someone acting unethically within the company. This necessitates them to concisely explain the circumstance to a coworker or superior and to exercise some restraint, especially in front of clients.

Social workers must support and advocate for their coworkers in addition to representing the interests of their clients. It’s crucial for social workers to know they can rely on other team members when they need a second opinion or another pair of hands because this can be an emotionally taxing line of work.

Flexibility and the ability to work with a variety of personalities are requirements for social workers. Although having consistent, structured plans for handling particular situations is important, they must also be willing to change their strategy to best meet the needs of their clients and keep guiding them toward success.


How does a social worker start a conversation with a client?

The first meeting with a client in social work establishes the context. According to the New York State Department of Health, social workers frequently begin by putting the client at ease and building rapport rather than jumping right into questioning them.

How should a social worker interview a client?

Sample Interview Questions
  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Why are you interested in this agency?
  • How does the work you’ll be doing for this organization align with your goals or past experiences?
  • Why do you want this job? …
  • What are your experiences with the target population?
  • Why do you want to work with this target population?

What are some social work interview questions?

Potential Client Interview Questions to Ask
  • What were you trying to do before we started working together?
  • What did you want? …
  • What are your expectations? …
  • What was your fear? …
  • How did the other decision-makers feel about this as a whole?
  • What is your projected starting date for the project and what is your overall budget?

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