This is the third post in a five week series about youth worker interview questions. Check out the other posts in the series at the bottom of the post.
Q: I have a job interview coming up. What kind of youth worker interview questions can I expect to be asked?
A: You can expect to be asked questions about how you work with others – with both your coworkers and youth. Here are a few possible questions you may be asked about how you work with your coworkers and some tips on how to answer them. Next week we’ll explore possible questions about how you work with youth, so check back!
1) Do you prefer to work alone or with a team?
- Always answer questions honestly, but do your homework first. If this role has a job description that requires 85% time working with minimal support and interaction and you’re a team player, it might not be the right fit for you.
- If it’s a job that’s in a close-knit team that works well together and you prefer to work completely alone as often as possible, you may want to find a role that suits your interests and abilities better. That’s not to say you can’t or shouldn’t stretch yourself to learn new ways of working, but you should make it clear what you prefer and why you think you’d still be a great fit for this role.
- Be prepared to give an example of your work in a team and on your own and be ready to discuss what worked and didn’t work with each approach.
2) Share a time when you worked with, or in the case of a supervisory role, led, a team. What worked well and what would you improve?
- Following on from the feedback in question one, have stories that serve as examples of your work thought out beforehand. Share what went well (there’s always something) and one thing (or more) you’d improve – again, there’s always something.
- If it’s a supervisory role you’re applying for, be prepared to talk about what kind of leader you are and how you delegate tasks and create teams, as well as being prepared to talk about ways you’ve led teams well and times where your leadership skills could have or did improve throughout a project.
3) Share a time when you disagreed with your supervisor about a youth work-related decision.
- Some interview questions are downright uncomfortable to answer. No one wants to talk about how they thought their previous boss was wrong when they’re trying to impress a new one. Especially if the situation didn’t turn out ideally.
- Interviewers might want to know the answer to this question for a number of reasons such as wanting to know if you follow the policies and procedures set out by the organization for handling disagreements, whether you’re a follower or have your own convictions, how you channel your frustrations (do you go and tell everyone around you or do you tackle the problem head on), or how honest you’re being in the interview process versus what kind of worker you really are.
- You also don’t have to share the biggest and most painful experiences from your career with the interview panel. Think of a story that answers their question honestly and thoroughly while still accurately showing how you work. If you had a bad experience, but have since learned from it and handle disagreements differently now, you can share your learned experience rather than just sharing the hard road to learning in the first place.
- Be prepared to talk about what you learned from the situation. Maybe your side of the disagreement wasn’t followed in the end and you learned a new way of working with youth. Or maybe there was some training or professional development that was identified through the situation.
- I love this question. Many people get so hung up on making sure they’re ‘liked’ by an organization that they forget to check out whether or not they ‘like’ the organization and the people they would be working with too. This is your chance to think about how you work best and how your supervisor can support you to maximize your potential within your role.
- For example, my answer to this question is that I need a supervisor who trusts me and gives me autonomy after an initial trial and experience of my work skills because I don’t do my best work when micro-managed. I need a supervisor who gives me praise when I do things well because words of affirmation are how I know that I’m respected, cared about and valued in a role but is also honest when I need to improve because I want to be the very best employee, youth worker and person that I can be. I need a supervisor who is willing to challenge me because I can’t stand to be bored and need the stimulation that comes from new projects, tasks, responsibilities and experiences.
- If you don’t have very good time management or workload management skills, you might want to try a few of these tips to help shape your practice as a youth worker. This is a very standard interview question in any sector and you can definitely expect to be asked it in a youth worker interview since many youth workers have a poor reputation for time management.
- Standard ways to manage your time and key words for any interview include making lists and being prepared to re-prioritize as the need arises throughout your working day. They really want to know if you have to do one job and finish it, even if something more important arises. They also want to know if you’ll get stuck on one task and be unable to think strategically and linearly about your day and the organization’s needs.
6) What computer skills do you have? What social media and online tools are you familiar with or proficient in?
- I know I keep harping on about honesty, but do not say that you know how to use a software program or online tool that you do not. If you know that is a prerequisite for the job, get the skills before the interview if possible or identify a program that you do know how to use that’s similar to the one they’re requiring. If you are computer literate, you will be able to learn new programs and systems and that will show through.
- Learning how to use social media is easier than ever and many youth work jobs require you to have those skills. Practice using a free blog service if you know that blogging is required for the role. Some programs like Adobe Photoshop or Apple’s iMovie might need more time and specialist training. You may need get more before applying for that role or be prepared to discuss your need for professional development in that area.
- It’s the twenty-first century. You need to get computer skills if you don’t already have them. Take a typing class or computer class at the local adult education center. Invest some time with your youth learning new technologies. Be open to trial and error because you won’t get it perfect each time; it’s very unlikely that you will cause the ‘blue screen of death’ while trying to learn how to use Excel or Twitter.
Last week the skills we shared had a lot to do with transferable skills (the ability to share how the skills you learned in one role translate over to another, even it if wasn’t always youth work related). While this week it’s all about being able to develop, interviewers ask questions about you to see how you will fit in with their current team and how well you grow and adapt in a working environment.
They want to know if you’re willing to change and develop as a practitioner, not just stick with what you’ve always done. Even if you don’t have every skill or experience they’re looking for, your ability to reflect on your experiences and make changes to your practice will be very appealing to most employers.
You can check out the other posts about youth worker interview questions below:
- Week 1 – 20 questions you might be asked in a youth work interview
- Week 2 – How to answer job interview questions about yourself
- Week 4 – Questions you might be asked about how you work with youth
- Week 5 – Youth worker interview questions specific to the role
Question: How do you prepare to discuss yourself in a youth work interview? We’d love to hear your tips and experiences in the comments below.
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