How to answer: 'Why do you want to be a social worker?'

Updated 9 November 2022

When interviewing for social worker roles, recruiters and interviewers ask a variety of questions to gauge your skills, experience, qualifications and overall suitability for the position. One question that employers commonly ask is 'Why do you want to be a social worker?', so it's useful to have a prepared answer ready to show employers that you're the right person for the job. Employers typically ask this type of question to determine what your motivations and drives are about the role. In this article, we explain how to answer this question and offer some example answers.

Why do interviewers ask you 'Why do you want to be a social worker?'

Interviewers and recruiters typically ask questions like 'Why do you want to be a social worker?' to ascertain your motivations and find out what about this role interests you. It's a helpful way to determine things like career aspirations and it's an opportunity to show employers that you're passionate about social care. The world of social care is a challenging environment that requires serious commitment and dedication to supporting individuals and communities.

Employers do their best to find the right candidates for social worker roles, and these types of questions help with that. When interviewing for social worker roles, there are a few ways that interviewers might ask this question. Take a look at the alternative questions below and think about how you would answer them:

  • What made you decide to apply for this role?

  • Why are you interested in working in social work?

  • What do you enjoy about social work and social care?

  • What interests you about this role?

Related: How to become a social worker

How to answer the question 'Why do you want to be a social worker?'

To help you craft a compelling response to the question, take a look at the steps below to guide you through the process:

1. Demonstrate a passion for social work

Working as a social worker is usually about more than just the salary, it tends to be a career that stems from a passion for the work. When answering this type of question, showcase your passion and enthusiasm for working in this industry. You could talk about your passion for helping others, supporting a community or encouraging those who need help to live independent lives.

Example: 'I've always had a passion for helping those in need, and I feel that this career path lets me do that. I love helping others and social work allows me to truly make a difference in people's lives. I get to be there for them when they need guidance with everyday struggles and I strive to act as a channel of support to help them live a full, independent life'.

2. Talk about previous success stories

Employers love to know about your relevant past experiences as it's a good indication that you're the right candidate for the job. Try to come up with some previous success stories that relate to social work in some capacity. It's also another opportunity to demonstrate your passion and enthusiasm for working in this type of role.

Example: 'I spent my first few years at university working nights in a hostel for the homeless, and my time there inspired me to work towards social work. I was able to help a lot of people who were struggling with their internal battles and I experienced true fulfilment during those few years. I learned a lot about my passions there, such as helping communities in need, which helped me realise my career aspirations in social work.'

Related: Interview question: ‘Why should we hire you?'

3. Talk about your values and how they align with the career

Your core values are an important part of working in social care as it helps you align your interests with the type of work you do. It also helps guide your ethical conduct, which is a core part of a social worker's duties. You're likely to deal with difficult situations as a social worker, so strong values about things like human rights or equality are important to have. It's also useful to align your values with those of the employer you're applying to work for.

Example: 'My values are what brought me towards a career in social work as I've worked so closely with people who need support in their lives. I put a strong emphasis on compassionate care and equality for all, two values that I feel are heavily embedded in the role of a social worker. I feel that my role as a social worker allows me to bring compassion and equality to people's lives when they need it most.'

4. Discuss your skills and qualifications

Social workers apply several skills to their line of work to help people and communities. Many of these skills are inherent, like empathy or communication skills, while others grow and develop through training and education. It's helpful to demonstrate the right skills to employers to show them you're the right person for the job. Take the time to outline your relevant skills to demonstrate your abilities as a social worker and discuss why they're important for the role.

Example: 'I feel that my skills align with the role of social worker, which is why I feel that I'm a good fit for the role. I'm a strong communicator with a lot of empathy which helps me understand a person's circumstances better. I'm also competent in the practical aspects of the job, such as safeguarding young people and adhering to various health and safety guidelines. These skills are invaluable to the work of a social worker, so I feel that I'm ready to make a difference in this role.'

Related: Interview question: ‘What are your strengths and weaknesses?'

5. Mention that you bring value to the role

Demonstrate that you intend to bring value to the role through your work to show employers that you're the right candidate. Whether it's making life easier for those who require social support or your abilities to help in specific areas like victims of domestic abuse, it's useful to talk about the value you bring to the role and industry. Take a look at the example below to get a good idea of how to do this:

Example: 'Although I love working in social care generally, my strengths lie in helping people struggling with addiction. I grew up around individuals suffering from addiction and feel that my strengths lie in connecting with these people and providing them with the right resources to break free from addiction. I've got a genuine passion for learning about new techniques and approaches to breaking the cycle of addiction and feel that this area of social work is where I bring the most value.'

Related: How to beat interview anxiety (a guide for before and during)

Example answers

To help you respond to interview questions about your motivations, take a look at the example answers below which can act as a guide:

Example 1

'I want to be a social worker because it's a career that truly helps people. It resonates with my core values and I have the right skills to support people and help them live a fulfilling, independent life. Social work allows me to connect with communities that require assistance and it's a rewarding career that makes a genuine difference in people's lives. I'm also interested in the techniques and psychology behind social work, so I'm always looking to further develop my skills and knowledge around the industry.'

Related: How to do well in an interview: tips to help you prepare

Example 2

'I connect with the role of a social worker on a personal level, after growing up around a household that struggled with drug addiction and poverty. I know first-hand the challenges associated with these societal issues and social work is a vital lifeline to help people take back agency in their lives. For example, I've had family members successfully use social work programmes to beat addiction and get their lives on the right path. Working in social work is a great way to give back to the community and help others overcome the difficulties I faced growing up.'

Example 3

'Social work is a unique career because it allows me to develop my career across different areas. It focuses on things like social care, psychology and counselling, which both interest me greatly. It's a career that allows me to develop a range of skills that give me flexibility in terms of where I want to go with my work. I'd love to advance towards a role as a senior social worker or counsellor, so I feel that this role is perfect for me.'

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