36 homeless support worker interview questions with answers

Updated 4 June 2023

Homeless support personnel are individuals who help people find affordable homes. They also support their clients with housing maintenance and similar services. Learning about the various housing support questions an interviewer may ask can prepare you to discuss your abilities, knowledge and experience and show you what else you may want to learn about the job. In this article, we discuss 36 homeless support worker interview questions with example answers you can use as a guide when preparing for your interview.

General homeless support worker interview questions

The interviewer may begin by asking general questions related to the homeless support worker role. Example questions include the following :

  1. Why did you choose to become a homeless support professional?

  2. What skills make you the ideal candidate for this role?

  3. How do you contribute to teams and support colleagues?

  4. How do you organise your schedule and prioritise tasks in a fast-paced environment?

  5. What makes our establishment suitable for you?

  6. What's your overall experience of being a homeless support worker?

  7. What is your knowledge of housing laws?

  8. Describe some of the challenges you experience as a homeless support worker.

  9. What are your strategies for building relationships and establishing trust with service users?

  10. How would you describe service excellence?

Related: How many questions are asked in an interview? (Plus types)

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Questions about experience and background

These questions explore your experience in similar roles. Examples may include the following:

  1. What were your duties in your previous position?

  2. What's your experience with individuals seeking a new home?

  3. How could you improve as a housing support provider?

  4. How do you determine a service user's requirements?

  5. What do you prioritise when inspecting houses?

  6. Describe a time when you helped a resident with a specific provision.

  7. Describe your experience with maintaining an establishment.

  8. What's your expertise in managing personal information with computer software?

  9. What strategies do you use to reach mutual agreements?

  10. Describe how you remain organised when handling multiple cases.

Related: How to answer interview questions about previous experience

In-depth questions

Your interviewer may ask questions to test your critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Examples of in-depth questions include the following:

  1. How do you manage a challenging resident?

  2. What steps do you take to handle emergencies at a residence?

  3. In what circumstances might you call the police?

  4. How do you communicate with service users when there's a language barrier?

  5. How do you encourage service users to manage some issues themselves?

  6. What other agencies can you suggest to a service user?

  7. How do you maintain a healthy relationship with colleagues and service users?

  8. What procedures can you use to enforce housing rules and regulations?

  9. How would you handle a situation where other residents or colleagues discriminate against a service user?

  10. What strategies would you use to oversee a service user struggling with substance abuse?

6 interview questions with example answers

Here are six interview questions with example answers you can use as a guide when preparing your own:

1. Are you comfortable working with service users of varying ethnicities and backgrounds?

Housing support experts often provide services to people from different countries who communicate in other languages. Handling service users from diverse backgrounds requires cultural competence. An interviewer may ask this question to determine if you can understand, appreciate and respect the values and beliefs of individuals from different backgrounds. To answer this question, highlight the significance of handling service users from various environments respectfully and discuss your willingness to learn about other cultures. You can also mention the personal fulfilment you gain from providing this service.

Example: 'I'm comfortable meeting and helping individuals from varying backgrounds. From experience, I understand that each individual is unique in terms of their life experiences, character and background. Learning about these diverse cultures and backgrounds allows me to treat service users empathetically and provide personalised and effective support. As an individual passionate about helping people, I find it fulfilling to interact with people from different backgrounds and offer them the support they require to improve their circumstances.'

Related: How to develop an inclusion and diversity training program

2. What are the qualities a homeless support assistant requires?

An interviewer may ask this question to assess your comprehension of the skills and traits you require to support individuals experiencing homelessness effectively. When answering this question, highlight some fundamental abilities and qualities individuals can apply for a successful career in homeless support. Provide instances of displaying these qualities in past roles or volunteering activities.

Example: 'As someone with several years of experience in homeless support, I believe individuals require empathy to perform this role. Homeless support personnel may work with vulnerable individuals in challenging situations. A homeless support expert requires strong communication skills to interact with service users, colleagues and housing authorities. They require resilience and problem-solving abilities, as they may encounter challenges while performing their role. Challenges can range from working with individuals with addiction issues to those involved with housing.'

Related: Top support worker skills

3. What's your experience with working with a low-income population?

Handling individuals within a low-income population may be challenging. An interviewer may ask this question to determine if you possess the required experience and skills to work successfully with people in this demographic . To answer this question, describe your experience handling a low-income population during previous roles or volunteering activities. Highlight the skills you developed while working with these individuals, the challenges you experienced and how you handled them.

Example: 'I gained substantial experience working with a low-income population in my previous positions and volunteering activities. While volunteering at a local homeless shelter, I helped people requiring homes find housing, food and other necessities. During this time, I learnt to listen to their requirements, empathise with them and adapt my approach to suit them. One challenge I experienced was the emotional impact of witnessing the difficulties that people in these low-income populations encountered, such as striving to access necessities like food and shelter. To handle this, I created self-care habits, which included taking breaks whenever I felt overwhelmed.'

4. What do you do if you notice inappropriate activity from a service user at a residence?

The interviewer may ask this question to determine if you're observant and attentive to detail. They may want to determine if you can handle potentially challenging situations with composure and professionalism. To answer this question, describe the steps you would take to protect the residents' safety. Mention how you may document such activity and provide a report to the appropriate authorities. Consider providing an example of a similar situation you experienced and how you handled it.

Example: 'As a homeless support worker, my primary duty is to guarantee the safety and well-being of the individuals under my supervision. If I notice untoward activity, such as sudden aggressiveness towards other residents from a service user, I'd evaluate the situation to determine the risk involved. Where the person's actions threaten others, I'd move residents to a safer location and contact emergency services. In a situation where their behaviour is less extreme, I can try to calm the service user. I'd also document the occurrence to provide an accurate report to the proper authorities.'

5. Describe a way you can improve communication with occupants.

An interviewer can ask this question to determine your capacity to build relationships and trust with residents, which can help ensure a positive environment. This question can also assess your ability to connect with residents and understand their requirements. In answering this question, acknowledge the importance of communication, highlight techniques you can use to improve it and demonstrate your willingness to learn new ones. Identify potential communication barriers and how you may handle them to ensure effective interaction. Consider providing examples of how you improved communication with service users in the past.

Example: 'As a homeless support worker, I understand that effective communication can help ensure that individuals receive the required support. In my experience, active listening, attentiveness and engagement are effective techniques for improving communication. I avoid possible distractions, such as phones, to give residents my full attention. I ensure that I ask open-ended questions to allow individuals to express themselves and avoid using technical phrases that can confuse them. Despite this, I know there may be communication barriers, such as language challenges. In addressing these, I can use interpreters or alternative means of communication like images.'

Related: What is cross-cultural communication (with benefits)

6. Do you find satisfaction in working as homeless support personnel?

An interviewer may ask this question to assess your commitment to a homeless support role and determine your motivation for choosing the career. This question can help the interviewer decide whether your motivations and interests align with the organisation's or foundation's missions and values. In answering this question, demonstrate honesty and passion for the role and provide specific examples to support your answer. Mention personal experiences that impacted you, how the support position aligns with your values and professional goals and particular aspects of the job that you find fulfilling.

Example: 'Yes, I do. I believe everyone deserves a place to call home and it's fulfilling to help several individuals find theirs. In my own experience, while volunteering at a local food bank, I witnessed the hardship and distress that homelessness causes people. These experiences inspired me to pursue a career in the field and impact people's lives every day. As a homeless support expert, I can impact people's lives by providing physical and emotional help to vulnerable individuals. Seeing the joy of these service users as they progress in their pursuit of housing is immensely rewarding.'

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