Social Work Home


A job interview is a conversation between a job applicant and a potential employer. It is an opportunity for the candidate to learn more about the job and the agency/organization and for the employer to learn about the candidate, their qualifications for the job and their personality and character. Based on the interview, the employer tries to determine if the candidate is a good match for the job and the agency. Learn about Informational Interviews here and how they differ from a job interview.

How can I prepare for my interview?

  • Know yourself (personality, strengths, areas of growth, skills, interests, career goals)
  • Understand your skills and be able to connect it to what the employer is looking for Know your resume (education/courses, your field experiences, other work experiences, volunteer experiences)
  • Reflect in depth on your experiences to come up with examples for behavioral questions (e.g. challenging/resistant client, examples of teamwork, how you handle conflict, projects/programs you created/lead, etc.) Know clinical risk factors for depression, suicidality, abuse and neglect, substance abuse, etc. for clinical vignette questions
  • Research the agency/organization (know what they do, current news/future plans, their mission)
  • Read and understand the job description
  • Come up with a list of 5 - 7 questions for the employer
  • Contact with recent and established alumni who may currently work for the agency or worked there in the past to get insight on the hiring process and agency culture
  • Practice answering questions out loud with a friend in a mock interview role play (video or tape record yourself and review)
  • Notify references asking for their permission to speak on your behalf in regards to your work ethic, overall character, etc.

What do I bring to the interview?

  • Leather portfolio
  • Extra copies of your resume
  • Your questions for the employer

What do I wear to a job interview?

  • Suit with pants or knee length skirt and tailored blouse
  • Minimal make-up, perfume and accessories (simple and conservative)
  • Dark, solid colored two piece suit with tie
  • Tie pattern should be simple (no loud color or design)

What do I do after the interview?

  • Make sure you ask about next steps (e.g. “What are the next steps in the process?” or “When I can expect to hear about the status of the job moving forward?”)
  • Ask your interviewer(s) for a business card
  • Send a handwritten thank you card within 1 day after your interview

Current USC MSW Students: For additional information, please see the workshop schedule.
Alumni: For additional assistance, please request an appointment.