This is week four in a five week series about youth worker interview questions. You can check out the other posts here:
- Week 1 – 20 questions you might be asked in a youth work interview
- Week 2 – How to answer job interview questions about yourself
- Week 3 – How to answer interview questions about how you work
- Week 5 – Youth worker interview questions specific to the role
Next week will be the final installment looking at how to answer questions that are role specific.
Today’s post explores possible questions and answers about how you work with youth. This will obviously vary greatly based on your experiences and perspective on youth work practice; these are just tips, possible suggestions and links to some of our previous posts that might be helpful to get you started.
Q: I have a job interview coming up. What kind of youth worker interview questions can I expect to be asked?
A: In any youth worker interview you can expect to be asked about how you work with youth, how you handle challenging situations and how your practice has developed through your experience.
1) Describe a time you had an angry youth to deal with
- As with any question in the interview, be prepared to be honest. If you previously dealt with an angry youth one way (particularly if you reacted in anger), and upon reflection feel that it wasn’t the best way to handle the situation, share that. However, make sure you’ve got the necessary distance from the situation to have perspective and the ability to be reflective about the experience. If you are still upset about the situation, that will come through in your interview.
- Be ready to talk about who or what was the antecedent to the behavior. Was the youth angry when they arrived at the session; if so, what did you do early on? Did the youth develop their angry feelings during the session; if so, what happened? How did you support them through their feelings? Did they become aggressive? What steps did you take to keep everyone safe and secure?
2) What steps would you take when planning a youth trip?
- First, confirm if you are supposed to share what you would do for a day trip, overnight trip or long, overnight youth trip.
- If you have a lot of experience planning trips just share your steps, what you did when and how successful they have been.
- You might want to have a look at three of our posts about youth trip planning to make sure you haven’t missed anything crucial when preparing your answer:
3) How would you handle a youth who is vulnerable and shows an unhealthy interest in spending time with you, particularly alone?
- Make sure that you emphasize the fact that you would immediately make your supervisor aware of the situation and take extra precautions to safeguard yourself and the youth by always having a second member of staff around when the youth is present, etc.
4) What are three things you think are most important when working with youth?
- Again, this is a question only you can answer, but it’s worth giving it thought before you get to the interview so that you don’t ramble.
- Repeat the question back in the answer to make sure you’re taking the time you need to formulate your answer and that you’re answering the question that they are asking. For example, ‘Three things that I think are most important when working with youth are…” and then give your answer.
5) How would you get a shy youth to open up in a group or mentoring session?
- Share what has worked for you and maybe what didn’t work but what you learned from it. For me, it’s all about the open-ended question and being patient in the awkward pause. I don’t force shy youth to join in, but I do everything I can to create the optimal safe-space in which they can share when they are ready.
6) How would you describe your style as a youth worker?
- Are you familiar with youth participation (aka youth empowerment)?
- Do you like to create ownership in your youth programs?
- How do you help youth make decisions – do you do it for them or guide them through the process?
- Are you a dream squisher or enabler with young people?
- What qualities make a great youth worker for you?
With these questions, interviewers are trying to figure out if you will fit in the culture of their organization from a youth work perspective. An organization that has youth participation as a ‘hot button issue’ for all their programs probably wants to find a youth worker who believes in adult-led programming. Similarly, an organization that deals primarily with vulnerable youth will want to find out how you will handle complex and challenging situations when presented with them.
Take your time and learn all you can about the role and organization you are applying for. Also make sure that you regularly take time to reflect on your practice, even if you’re not planning to move roles any time soon. That way, you can learn from mistakes (or even learn from good situations) to make each and every session with youth better than the one before.
Next week is our final installment and we’ll be looking at specific questions pertaining to the role you are applying for.
Question: What youth worker interview questions have you been asked relating to how you work with youth? We’d love for you to comment below so that other youth workers can prepare more thoroughly for their interviews.
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