5 types of safeguarding questions (with examples and tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 25 August 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

There are many jobs which may involve responsibilities related to safeguarding, such as medical, teaching and care roles. When applying for a position which involves this kind of work, you may encounter questions which are specifically about safeguarding. If you're interested in these roles, knowing some potential questions about safeguarding can help you to prepare for the interview. In this article, we explain what safeguarding means, list some common safeguarding questions and provide tips for answering them.

What does safeguarding mean?

Safeguarding is a responsibility in roles related to care or dealing with potentially vulnerable people. This can include jobs in the healthcare sector, child care, teaching, non-profits, working with the disabled or in care homes for the elderly. Safeguarding means protecting people's human rights, health and general wellbeing. This includes acting to prevent neglect, harm or abuse of these individuals. Although safeguarding can be necessary when caring for almost anybody, it commonly applies to more vulnerable people like children, adolescents and people with disabilities.

Related: Care assistant interview questions and answers

5 safeguarding questions with answers

Here are five example safeguarding questions, together with an explanation and example answer for each. The questions are in the context of children in school but the same principles apply to any safeguarding roles involving potentially vulnerable individuals:

1. What's your approach to safeguarding children at work?

An interviewer may ask you a more general question like this one towards the beginning of the interview. This allows them to assess your ideas about what safeguarding means as a responsibility, and it also allows them to see how well you handle a broad question. When answering this, try to give a concise answer, even though the question is relatively broad. Focus on prioritising the requirements of children or other vulnerable people.

Example: 'I would say my approach centres on listening to the needs of children. Despite their young years, I feel it's vital that we take their concerns seriously. Even if it transpires that a concern is trivial or inconsequential, taking the time to listen and evaluate it is crucial for keeping the environment safe for them. I try to take a balanced view of what I hear and see, but I think it's preferable to be overly cautious than not cautious enough with children.'

Related: Tricky interview questions and how to prepare for them

2. Why do you want to work with children?

This is another common question which seeks to assess your motivations. Interviewers ask this to understand you as a person and to confirm that you want to work with children for a legitimate reason. It is part of their responsibility to ensure that they safeguard children by only allowing responsible adults into contact with them. It's vital that you give an honest answer to this question. It could be that a part of your own past that made you want to contribute in your own way, which can be a good way of answering the question.

Example: 'When I was at school, like many others I didn't always understand how teachers explained various topics. Over time, I had to develop my own approach to learning. I also noticed that many of my peers weren't able to do this, which was unfortunate as the teachers could easily have rectified it by having a more flexible approach. I believe that my ability to develop my own learning approaches from an early age gives me the flexibility necessary, and I want to make sure that children get the opportunity to learn in ways which suit them best.'

Related: How do I answer: 'Why do you want this job?'

3. What are the main duties of a teacher regarding student safeguarding?

The specific safeguarding duties you have are going to depend on the role in question. In this case, the question is for a teacher, but you can expect the same question for different roles. This requires you to have a good understanding of your responsibilities to the potentially vulnerable people in your care, which is what the interviewer is trying to determine with this question. To answer this one, discuss how you'd look after children both in the classroom and how this duty extends to what you learn about their lives outside of it.

Example: 'Our duty is to ensure that no child comes to any harm, both physically and emotionally, while they're under our supervision. I'd also say that this extends to what we learn about their lives outside of the classroom. If we suspect that a child is the victim of abuse at home or elsewhere, we have a duty to report this to the relevant authorities. This means it's important that we're able to recognise signs of abuse or distress in children, which requires us to be constantly vigilant and attentive.'

4. If a colleague receives allegations, how do you respond?

Interviewers might ask you questions about a potential situation which is very sensitive. They want to make sure you know the right thing to do, regardless of the scenario. In this case, they want to make sure you always take allegations seriously and can put your own personal feelings aside for the good of others. To answer this question, indicate that you'd immediately report any allegations and remain impartial.

Example: 'Any allegation is a serious matter, regardless of who is the subject of the allegation or whether I know them personally. If there is such an allegation, it's vital that the relevant authorities investigate it thoroughly to determine the truth of the matter. I would therefore alert my colleague's supervisor or manager to the allegation and ensure that the matter reaches the authorities, with whom I'd cooperate as much as possible.'

Related: Values-based interview questions and sample answers

5. A child's behaviour suddenly changes. What do you do?

This question assesses your attentiveness and ability to make sound decisions. The premise of the question is open to interpretation, but the proper response is typically the same. It's important to show the interviewer that you take seriously any unusual behaviour from a vulnerable person. The implication behind the question is that the change in behaviour is significant or worrying, otherwise, they wouldn't ask it.

Example: 'My first response would be to find time to speak with the child. I'd ask them if they're feeling alright and whether something is bothering them. Depending on how they respond, I might ask them specific questions, such as whether everything is all right at home or among their friends. If their answer is unsatisfactory or leaves something unexplained, I would immediately bring the matter to the attention of the responsible individual at the school.'

Tips for answering safeguarding questions

When you're preparing your answers to these questions, there are some tips and best practices which can help you, including:

Clarify the question

If you feel like the question is somewhat open to interpretation, it's acceptable to ask for clarification. This demonstrates that you're careful and don't make assumptions, which is a desirable trait in a role involving safeguarding. One way of doing this is to rephrase the question in your own words and ask the interviewer if they agree.

Take time to think

Although it's natural to feel like you want to give an immediate answer, it's also acceptable to take a few seconds to think before giving one. As long as you don't take too long, the interviewer is likely to appreciate that you're thoughtful and careful and know how to take your time. This gives you the opportunity to consider options for your answer and decreases the chances of forgetting important information due to a rushed response.

Related: 13 unusual interview questions and why interviewers ask them

Be honest

Honesty is another very important trait for safeguarding roles. It's therefore essential that your answers are clearly honest. The interviewer doesn't expect you to be faultless, but they may disapprove if they feel like you're not being completely honest. If honesty requires you to describe a previous mistake or fault, try to also talk about how you learned from it and improved.

Related: 8 frequently asked integrity interview questions (with example answers)

Give examples

Whenever you get an open-ended question, giving examples is almost always a good idea. An open-ended question is one where the answer is up to you. Questions with yes or no answers and those which ask for specific information are close-ended. Be concise with your answers for those. An open-ended question might be about describing your strengths and weaknesses. In this case, give examples of situations where these became relevant. This is an opportunity to talk about your experiences and show your personality.

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