Interview day can be nerve-wracking for prospective students with feelings of excitement, fear and panic all rolled into one. I remember arriving 3 hours early for my interview day and still panicking about being late. If you want an offer of a place, regardless of the course you are applying for, you may have to do an interview. Prospective student social workers will be preparing for their interview day at the University of York within a couple of weeks. I therefore, thought it will be useful to share some handy advice and information from my experience on how best to prepare for your interview. I also met up with Dr Katie Graham, Admissions Tutor (BA Social Work) at the University of York, to get her perspective on what she and other interviewers will be expecting from prospective student social workers on their interview day.
What to expect?
The interview day is a full day which will include group work, so be prepared to actively participate in a group task and discussion. You will also have a 30 minute face to face interview with a member of the academic staff and either a member of the Service User and Carer Participation and Advisory Group (SUPA group) or a practicing social worker. Bear in mind, the purpose of the interview isn’t to catch you out – instead, it is your chance to show your personality and to demonstrate your enthusiasm and knowledge of social work. I will be part of a question/answer panel along with Dr Graham and another member of the academic staff on interview day. I am excited to meet prospective students and answer questions about the social work course and university life, using my perspective as student social worker at the University of York.
Dr Katie Graham says: “Before your interview, reflect on your learning and/or work experiences and how it applies to social work.”
How to prepare?
In preparing for my interview day, I found it helpful to peruse the university prospectus and website, reading up on the course details and student blogs (like this one!) and thinking about how I would answer questions such as “why did you choose to study social work?” Re-familiarising myself with my personal statement was also handy, as during my interview I elaborated on experiences that I mentioned in it. I re-read my interview letter carefully as it contained information relating to the interview day and documents I was required to bring with me to the interview as well as directions and other practical information for the day.
Dr Katie Graham says: “Prospective students should be prepared to expand on experiences which demonstrate their interest and commitment to social work.”
What are interviewers looking for?
Thinking back to my interview day, the areas I found interviewers were most interested in were;
- An awareness and appreciation of the complexities of social work,
- Enthusiasm for the social work profession,
- The capacity to reflect and learn from past experiences and
- The ability to listen and be receptive to the views of others.
This may seem like a lot to demonstrate at interview, but it will come naturally once you prepare well, participate and engage in the interview process.
In order to get an idea of the expectations of social workers at entry-level, you can browse through the capability descriptions of the Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF), which set out the competencies expected at pre-qualification, and will apply to you as a prospective social work student.
Dr Katie Graham says: “We value individual students’ contribution. We draw on people’s experiences and integrate it into our teaching and the learning environment.”
Other practical tips..
- Have a good breakfast on the morning of your interview day, the last thing you want is your stomach growling loudly in the middle of your interview.
- Dress in something suitable and comfortable
- Make sure you are aware of the latest issues relevant to social work. Read newspapers, and listen to the news this will show your interests and allow you to back up your opinion. This could also come in handy if you are questioned on current affairs in your group task or interview.
- It is okay to pause briefly after a question is asked, it will usually lead to a more focused response.
- Don’t be a “know it all” in the group activities – give others a chance to speak and show that you value the opinion of others even if you disagree with their point of view. Your body language is also important, sit up straight, make eye contact and engage with everyone, not only the interviewers.
- Arrive in good time and have a look around the campus, the lake in the middle of campus is absolutely gorgeous, and will add some much-needed calm before your interview. Alternatively, the YUSU cafe around the corner from the Department of Social Policy and Social Work has delicious cakes and coffee!
Dr Katie Graham says: “We welcome questions from interviewees. We want them to make the most of the day by finding out as much as possible about the course and our teaching methods and to also get a feel whether the University of York is right for them.”
Receiving an invitation to be interviewed means that your application stood out and the admissions tutors want to know more about YOU. Although it is natural to be nervous, it’s important to not let your nerves get the better of you. Try to be the best version of yourself on interview day, smile, be confident in your abilities and enjoy the experience. Hopefully I will meet some of you on interview day.