How to be successful in an interview for a Support Worker/Carer

Preparation: 

As with any interview, you must prepare yourself. Whether you are experienced or not, when you are going for your interview you will need to read up on the current policy regarding the job and do some research into the job roles/responsibilities. Make sure you fully understand the job you are to be interviewed for and rehearse with yourself how you can ensure your experience is relevant to the job/position. Even if you have never worked in health or social care before, you still have skills such as teamwork and communication which are relevant. There are some key policies you should also be aware of, as a support worker, those that will directly affect how you will provide support for a service user.  Such are: the social care reform entitled “Putting People First”, the Care Act (2014) and Mental Capacity Act (2005) – DoLs (Deprivation of Liberty).

Examples of interview questions:

  1. What qualities (and/or) experience can you bring to this role?

Many interviewers like to start with an open question like this. It gives you a chance to relax a little and speak about your experience and personal qualities that are relevant to the job/position you are being interviewed for. It also gives the interview panel a chance to know you a little.

  1. What do you feel are your strengths and weaknesses?

Make a big deal of the things you are good at – such as communication, motivation, commitment, timekeeping, etc. You can also give a reflection on your weaknesses to let the interview panel know you are aware of your weakness and have plans to improve on them.

  1. What is your understanding of professional boundaries and how would you ensure they are maintained?

Professional boundaries are essential in social care, especially in a support worker role. You will be working closely with individuals who require intimate and continuous support from you to maintain their independence and wellbeing, but that should be the limit of your involvement. You should acknowledge that any contact with a service user outside of work is not consistent with maintaining a professional boundary, as well as giving out personal information about yourself and accepting inappropriate gifts from a service user or family.

  1. How would you ensure you are supporting a client to minimise the risks to themselves and yourself?

Risk is a key issue that must be addressed on a case-by-case basis. As a support worker, you will be involved in undertaking risk assessments and once published, ensuring they are implemented. The process of carrying out the risk assessment will involve talking to the service user to find out the tasks they require support for, and how much they can undertake safely independently. You will design robust working procedures that ensure your and the service user’s safety, and it will be your responsibility to introduce them to these routines as well as support them to learn how to carry them out safely.

  1. Imagine a situation when you are faced with a service user who is aggravated and distressed. How would you manage this behaviour?

Challenging behaviour can present in many different forms, it could be anger, aggression, confusion, or frustration; when the service user presents any of such you need to know how to handle the situation positively and safely. If you have never been trained in how to manage challenging behaviour, just use your good sense in the interview to answer the question, and if you do not know how to handle such a scenario you are asked about, just politely let the panel know. However, you need to remain calm and listen to what the service user is saying; take time to fully understand the problem and only then you can try to help resolve the issue. If you feel your safety is being put at risk by the behaviour, you should not handle the situation alone. You need to calmly seek/ask/call for help immediately in line with the organization’s policy and procedure. It is important to let the interview panel know that you understand where your ability to manage the situation ends and when to ask for help. You should also let them know that as soon as the situation is resolved you would complete an incident report and ensure the entire event is properly documented.

  1. You will be required to complete an assessment of a service user’s needs. How would you go about doing this?

The assessment of a service user’s needs is done in conjunction with a risk assessment, and it also involves the service user’s input. Start by talking to the service user about what they can do, what they struggle with and the things they need assistance with. Make sure you cover a complete range of activities from basic daily life tasks such as washing, dressing, cooking and eating up to leisure activities and hobbies. Promoting independence and wellbeing is key to being a support worker, so your role is always to advise and assist but unless specifically required, never to undertake the task on behalf of the service user. You should let the interview panel know that you understand it is crucial for the service user to feel a sense of achievement and independence in their everyday lives and that you are there to facilitate that. This would be an ideal time to show your understanding of personalisation in care.

  1. Give us an example of a time when you have worked in a small team, and how you contributed to that team.

This is a great opportunity to draw on a range of your experiences of a team working. Make sure you give enough detail about how you worked as part of a team to support other team members. Ensure your contribution(s) worked in conjunction with the team’s overall aim. Backing up any claims you make with your previous experience will show the interview panel you have prepared well for the interview and that you can analyse your behaviour to recognise the key skills you have achieved.

All the best!!!