World isn’t a beautiful place for everyone. Just walk down the street of any big city and observe the faces of people you pass. Facing financial pressure, health issues, family problems, or even worse things, many people find it hard to cope, and they need help. Luckily at least in the “western world” everyone can seek assistance of social workers, regarding of their financial situation. And before we look at 7 sample answers to the question, I want to thank you for choosing this career. Because it matters, and every social worker who does their job with love and respect is incredibly important in our society. Back to the question though.
You can face this question when applying for your first job in social work, but also when trying to get to the college and study social work. As a rule of a thumb, you can always refer to the meaningful purpose you see in this type of work. But you should elaborate on it. Explain how the field is a good match to your personality and strengths, to your expectations and career goals. At the end of the day, they should get an impression that you really want to do social work, and aren’t just following a dream of your parents, or applying for jobs at random, because you need a source of income. Let’s have a look at the sample answers.
7 sample answers to “Why do you want to be a social worker?” interview question
- I want to be a social worker because I am deeply concerned with the state of affairs in human society. The inequality is as obvious as ever, and many people struggle with bare survival. What’s more, it has an impact on everyone, including children, who often lack opportunities to study and develop their full potential…. I know I am not going to save the world as a social worker. But I can play my part in making a positive difference, at least in a local community. And it is incredibly motivating to me. Social work is a great match for my personality and for what I’d like to achieve in my professional career.
- I’ve had great role models in my life. Honestly speaking, I did not have an easy childhood. My father left the house when I was just four years old, and we always struggled with money. Luckily enough, my mother loved me unconditionally, and she did what she could for me, including involving social workers from the municipality in our situation. They visited the house regularly, and helped me with study materials, gave us a computer, and did many other things for the family. What’s more, they gave me a lot of encouragement and in way one of them played a role of a father I didn’t have. To sum it up, they had a profound impact on my life, and I would love to do the same thing for a living–having a profound impact in the lives of underprivileged children. But first I have to earn a degree from social work, and that’s why I am here today.
- Since I was young I’ve always felt a need to help someone. Nothing gave me the same feeling of satisfaction. I’ve always enjoyed volunteering in local organizations, be it for visiting lonely people in nursing homes, cleaning church, or helping with an organization of some events at school. Now I am a bit old for volunteering though, with bills to pay and everything that belongs to a life of an adult. But I would love to stay in the field, to see meaningful purpose in my job, instead of working for some corporation sitting in front of a computer, not really understanding what I am working on, and having little contact with the real world outside of the office. That’s why I decided for social work, and would love to work especially in gerontological care.
- It is the next logical step in my career, one I’ve been pursuing for years. I’ve earned my bachelor in social work and later my masters in mental health social work, and now I’d love to provide therapy to, and coordinate the care of people with severe mental illnesses. Finally, after long years of studies, I’d like to apply what I’ve learned in practice, and cannot wait to start working at your mental health clinic. That’s why I want to be a social worker, and not, let’s say, a teacher or an engineer….
- I know it may look strange, considering I’ve worked as a software engineer for fifteen years. Let me try to explain it though. I’ve worked super hard for the last seven years, often more than 250 hours a month. And I’ve experienced a complete burnout, and could not tolerate sitting in front of a computer for more than an hour a day any longer. I knew I needed a career change, and decided to take six months off, to reassess my priorities and see what’s next for me in this life. After considering everything I came to a conclusion that I want to work with people, and I want to help. I dream of having a positive impact on lives of real people with real problems, instead of just solving some coding riddles and designing one of the millions of mobile apps. That’s why I did my course, worked on my education, and now I am applying for jobs in social work. And I must tell you that I am incredibly excited about what’s ahead of me.
- I’ve been doing social work for seven years already, and see no reason why I’d not continue in the field. I just want to switch from military social work to child welfare, because I learned by experience that children are the target group I want to work with. I do not want to say that I did not enjoy the work with the Veterans. But it wasn’t my cup of coffee, and I came to a firm conclusion that child welfare social work will be a much better match for my personality and strengths.
- I’ve considered a lot of careers with the help of our counselor at school. Because I am a good student, was blessed with intelligence, and definitely have many options in life. Thinking about the impact I’d like to have in the country, as well as about typical day at work in various jobs, and my goals in other spheres of life, I eventually decided for social work. I find it a perfect match to my personality and goals, and at the same time it is a well-paid career in which one can have a real impact on the people they work with. I also like that we can specialize in different fields of social work down the road, such as clinical, forensic, pediatric, psychiatric and so on. These are the main reasons why I chose social work for my field of study.
Do not forget on your non-verbal communication
Your talk about your career choice should not sound like some rehearsed speech. They should not get an impression that you’ve saying what you are saying just because you need a job, or want to get your place in the study program. They should sense spontaneous joy in your voice, and see some sparkle to your eye. And that’s why I actually suggest you against preparing a word-to-word answer to this questions upfront.
You should know your “Why?“, which can be one reason or more reasons, and you can find an inspiration on my list of sample answers. Then just keep the reason on your mind, and spontaneously talk about it, with enthusiasm, while explaining why you decided to apply for a job or study program in social work. In such a case your non-verbal communication will correspond with your words, and they will trust you…
The more specific you are the better
Social work is a broad field. When applying for a study program in it, or when getting this question on any other occasion, I suggest you to be specific when talking about your future plans and goals. You can pick one field of social work and explain why you want to work in it.
You can take this even one step further, picking a particular community of people, or even a particular institution or place of work, explaining the impact you’d like to have in it while doing social work for a living. Specific goals are always more motivating than some general goals (such as wanting to help people), and interviewers will also find it easier to imagine you in your future role, helping a specific community, following a specific purpose, and thriving along the way…
Ready to answer this question? I hope so! Do not forget to check also answers to other tricky interview questions for social workers:
- What are your strengths and weaknesses as a social worker?
- Have you ever worked on a project that was a failure?
- Tell us about a time when you faced an ethical dilemma.