The purpose of the field placement interview is for you and the agency interviewer(s) to get to know each other well enough to make an informed decision about whether or not the placement is a good match. Included in this decision-making is a sense of mutual respect, appropriate learning opportunities and logistical needs (location, transportation, scheduling) As you prepare for the interview, here are some suggested questions you may be asked or may want to ask.
Planning for Your Interview
- Once you have received your practicum referral letter from the field education office, please contact the agency right away to schedule your interview. Your initial contact with the agency should occur within ten days of receiving your referral letter. The agency contact person is expecting to hear from you.
- This is a PROFESSIONAL interview; respect the process and treat it as such.
- Plan to arrive at least 15 minutes early for your interview; your time is much better spent being prepared, calm and collected in the parking lot or the lobby area than stressed on the road trying to make it on time.
- Be prepared for the interview by reviewing the agency data form, their web site and having extra copies of your resume with you.
- Dress professionally for the interview. Business attire is usually a good guideline. Until you have a feel for the dress code at your agency, it is better to err on the side of being more formal rather than being too informal.
- Turn off your cell phone and all other electronic devices prior to checking in for the interview!!!
- Shake hands, make good eye contact, and speak in a confident voice.
- Be prepared for questions they may ask of you and questions you should consider asking them (examples below).
- Clarify with the agency who your assigned field instructor will be. It is helpful to understand that sometimes the staff member who interviews you is not the actual field instructor. In some organizations the actual field instructor may not be assigned at the time of your interview.
- Before leaving the interview, discuss whether or not this is a good match for you and the agency. If additional information is needed before making this decision, please discuss the specific information that is needed. Decide the next steps for addressing the needed information. Set a time frame for contacting each other to review the needed information and to decide about your placement.
- If you and the agency contact are ready to agree to your placement, set a date when you will contact the agency just before the field practicum begins.
- If your agency requires orientation or special training prior to the start of field practicum, fully discuss these requirements with the agency representative. Set dates for completing these requirements before field practicum actually begins. Finally, please be sure to confirm your placement with the field education office at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us if you have any questions or concerns.
Questions You May Be Asked
Take a few minutes in advance
- Tell me more about the work/volunteer experiences you have listed on your résumé.
- What do you hope to contribute to this agency?
- What are some strengths you bring with you that could help you get started in this practicum?
- What social work courses (or other courses) have you liked the most, the least, and why?
- Have you thought about what you might be doing in five years?
- What clients do you think you would be the most comfortable with? The least comfortable with?
- Is there anything in your background check that we need to be aware of?
Remember that this is just a sample, and the interviewer(s) will have many other questions.
Questions You May Want To Ask
Review the agency’s description and specific requirements. You will want to ask follow-up questions about this information in your interview. It is usually helpful to prepare some questions to take with you to the interview. Please be sure to ask questions about what you should expect at this practicum in terms of learning assignments, daily schedule, transportation, supervision, work space, and telephone and computer availability. You are interviewing the agency as much as the agency is interviewing you to ensure the best possible match.
- What are the learning opportunities available to students in this setting?
- What kind of agency writing assignments will I learn while I am here?
- How soon after I begin practicum can I expect to be assigned to work with clients?
- What do you consider the best thing that students have done here in the past?
- What do you consider the best kind of learning experiences for students in your agency?
- How does the staff view students? Are we seen as learners, as staff members, or both?
- If I do not think my learning needs are being met, what would you expect me to do?
- What type of relationship do you have to the liaison assigned by the school? What type of relationship have your prior students had with the liaison?
- Please describe how students are oriented to learning and working in this setting?
- Please tell me about the frequency and style of supervision that I might expect as a student. (The school expects at least one meeting each week for a minimum of one hour).
- Do you want me to elaborate on anything I have included in my résumé?
Remember that this is just a sample, and you will probably have many other questions.