This is always an interesting topic. When I started interviewing for my first agency role I was told “they’re informal, laid back and there’s nothing to worry about”. And that was how I was used to seeing it. I have met soo many agency social workers stroll in the office with my old managers, shake their hand and that was it they had the job. Come meet the team. Easy, I can do that no problem.
I had just returned home from a 3 month trip travelling around South East Asia and this interview was set up for me by the agency the day after I returned home. I wasn’t overly impressed that it was soo soon. However, I decided the sooner the better and if not it would be good experience and I needed my Social Work brain to switch back on any way. I was very jet lagged and still in holiday mode.
Putting my skirt suit on and a proper pair of shoes didn’t have me in the best of moods. Not quite my flip flops and travelling shorts I had grown accustomed to. I arrive at the Office and there were two interviewers both managers and very formal. They started asking me the those very well known questions around diversity and legislation. I knew that the PLO process had changed but oh my I had know idea and my head was not working.
To say the least I stopped them after a few questions and actually asked if they knew I was agency worker and not after a full time post. To which they smiled and the interview continued. To this day I have no idea why they gave me the job.
Immediately after this meeting/ interview I called my agency worker to discuss my experiences and her response was “that never happens, well 9/10 times it’s easy and informal”. All I can say is that was not my experience, that time round.
What I can say after speaking to the managers. They want you to be on time be smart and show that you are a team player but also that you work very well on your own. As i’m sure your aware we need both skills. It’s important that there is something unique about us all and additional experiences, personality and knowledge is an added bonus.
I’ve seen many agency social workers just stroll in as if they own the place and then 3 weeks later they cave under the pressure and hide away. That’s not how a team is supposed to work although I am very aware that it does happen. Please always be honest about your experience too.
Just be yourself if is doesn’t feel right, you don’t have to take it. It importance that you get a good feeling from the Managers after all they supervise you and you have to go to them for the ultimate decisions at the end of the day.
From thinking back on it now I can see why the Managers were being so picky with who they wanted working in their team and I did see them turn people down. They have so many people coming in and just leaving that they need to be assured of some dedication and commitment to the job.
However, like I said they are not all this formal and some can be laid back and no interview questions will be asked. Remember you don’t have to answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to whether you will take this job in that meeting. Let your Agency deal with that and let your agency agree the pay and you can ask them to try and negotiate this. They will probably ask how soon you could start so consider that before you go in.
- Get up to date on any new legislation or research
- Dress smart (They don’t want you to turn up in jeans
- Expect an interview and go over those usual questions (diversity, legislation, team work, challenges etc)
- Be yourself, talk about your best qualities and skills
- Be honest about your experience
- If it doesn’t feel right, you don’t have to take it.
- If it is a YES, let your agency negotiate your pay and speak to your agency about what you are expecting.
I have also written an article on how much experience do I need to be an agency social worker if you are interested in this.
If you want any help or guidance with finding a role within the Social Work remit that best suits you. Or, if you have any general questions or are looking at joining an agency. Please don’t hesitate to send me a message. I have built up many relationships with a variety of different agencies and am happy to support you with this.