Casework brings many challenges to those working in the social services field. You often have more cases than you have hours in a day. The pressure is great because your job duties help determine the fate of adults and children. Hiring managers understand what's at stake when they hire caseworkers and the questions they ask can be deeply emotional and hard to answer. It takes a strong person to handle casework and hiring managers will be determined to find out if you're up to the challenge.
Casework involves careful case planning. Interviewers will ask you how comfortable you are assessing risks to safety and how well you set goals. Following through in achieving these goals requires a high level of commitment. The interviewer will ask you questions pertaining to how well you can work with family members in order to identify strategies pertinent to the welfare of the family.
Caseworkers often feel overworked. In some states, the caseloads are higher than the recommended amount set by the Child Welfare League of America. This leads to high employee turnover rates – some as high as 50 percent – and dissatisfaction. Interviewers will ask you how you feel about working with heavy caseloads and how well you fare with piles of paperwork. Caseworkers often work late and they pull on-call duty. Interviewers will ask about your flexibility and overtime availability. Whether you can work long hours will weigh heavily in an agency's hiring decisions.
Casework includes working closely with parents and children. Maintaining a professional boundary between your job and your emotions is paramount. Agencies do not want to risk a caseworker becoming too personally involved; your judgment might become impaired and there is a strong chance you will spend too much time on one case. You will be asked how well you can keep a professional distance.
Effective caseworkers adhere to many deadlines. Certain situations involve reporting within a specified time period. Paperwork has to be filed within a certain number of days or cases will be considered delinquent. Interviewers will ask you how well you can handle the pressure of meeting constant deadlines while maintaining pristine documentation of events.
Michelle Dwyer is a U.S. Army veteran writing fiction and nonfiction since 2003. She specializes in business, careers, leadership, military affairs and organizational change and behavior. Dwyer received an MBA from Tarleton State University/Texas A&M Central Texas and an MFA in creative writing from National University in La Jolla, Calif.