The turnover rate in some areas for social workers is as high as 90 percent. This is due in part to long hours, an overwhelming workload and limited funding to perform duties. Working in the child welfare arena makes this even more challenging because the job requires good judgment, quick action and meticulous adherence to policy. As the supervisor, you set the example by excelling in these duties and staying positive and supportive for your staff. You also serve as a mentor and community advocate. When interviewing for a supervisory social work position in child welfare, be prepared for a thorough interview that addresses your experience and ability to lead in what can be a stressful environment.
The supervisor is expected to manage the workload of her employees. You will most likely be asked how you would handle a high caseload and how you would divide up cases. You will also need to hold social workers accountable for deadlines and fulfilling visit requirements. You will be asked how you plan to monitor staff members in ensuring they meet deadlines and obligations to their clients. Recruiting social workers is another important duty of the supervisor. Be prepared to explain what you look for in ideal candidates for social worker positions in child welfare. The interviewer might also focus on how important staff development is to you. Be ready to mention ways you plan to successfully develop your staff.
A social work supervisor in child welfare is required to be familiar with programs in her local community. You might be asked how familiar you are with resources such as group homes and counseling services. Knowledge of the economic and political climates are also important. You may be asked to discuss your knowledge of municipal and state policies. Be prepared as well to answer questions pertaining to how well you work with poorer families in the community. In addition, you must be able to help your staff members navigate these resources; how you mentor your employees and improve their abilities when relating to community organizations might also be examined.
The social work supervisor deals with a variety of individuals from different socioeconomic climates and varying levels of education. You will be questioned about your ability to effectively communicate with parents who might have minimal education. In addition, you might be probed on how well you articulate your findings of investigations to upper-management. Be willing to go over how well you deal with angry clients and how well you compose correspondence to families and management.
Supervisors analyze data. Working in child welfare departments requires interpreting outcomes of investigations and monitoring the effectiveness of action plans. The job might also require breaking down statistics, which means that the hiring manager might look for a candidate who can accurately read numbers and adjust goals based on results. You will probably be asked how you interpret findings of data and how you steer goals based on past performance.
Education and Experience
You must be licensed and typically need a at least a bachelor's degree and two years of experience before being considered for this position. Many agencies prefer a master's degree and up to five years of experience. The interviewer will ask about your education and what you found most appealing about your academic pursuits. You will likely need to discuss your experience in dealing with families, and even have to answer hypothetical scenario questions. The interviewer may ask about a challenging situation, such as removing a child from a home and how you handled it. The questions might get specific regarding what you learned from the situation and how you can improve.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Administration for Children and Families - Supervising Child Welfare Services
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook - What Social Workers Do
- University of Texas Arlington: Office of Human Resources - Social Work Supervisor
- National Association of Social Workers: NASW Standards for Social Work Practice in Child Welfare; 2013
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Administration for Children and Families - Worker Turnover
- Cameron Spencer/Digital Vision/Getty Images