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Interviews for Personal Support Worker Jobs: Questions You’ll be Asked, and the Types of Responses You Should Give


So, you have an interview to be a personal support worker (PSW). Great! This article will outline some of the common questions asked in PSW interviews and give you some guidance on how to answer them.

The most important thing to remember…

Over the years, I’ve had interviews for jobs that I didn’t have any direct experience for, but I have still been successful at interviews. This is because I was able to apply the experience I did have to the role at hand.

One of the most important things to do in any job interview is to provide examples which illustrate your answers.

Even if you haven’t done this kind of job before, think about your personal experience (in any area) and how it could apply to the job.

Think about the key skills and qualities needed to be a support worker and have a selection of examples that you can use to give evidence in your answers.

What if I forget my answers during an interview?

Most interviewers will be happy for you to take notes into an interview, but it’s worth checking in advance.

Tip: Don’t just have a list of potential questions and answers but have a list of examples you can use to demonstrate your skills and qualities that the questions focus on.

This article lists some examples of typical interview questions and the information you will need to answer the questions well.

Make sure you don’t just memorise these questions and some answers because there is a vast range of possible questions that you might be asked in an interview for a personal support worker role.

Prepare by having a proper understanding of what the job requires.

General questions:

You are likely to be asked some general interview questions, similarly to other jobs. Your answers need to be relevant to the PSW job that you are going for.

  • What experience do you have related to this job? How do your personal experiences make you suitable for the role?
If you have worked in support work before, think of some of the things that you did that demonstrate some of the skills required. For example, how you’ve dealt with difficult situations with clients, experiences working with clients with diseases of ageing such as dementia, and so on.

If you haven’t worked as a support worker before – don’t worry! Remember – think about the skills and qualities needed to do the job. The interviewers want to see that you are the right type of person for the job.

You can use examples of how you have dealt with a difficult situation, either at work or outside of work. Talk about times where you have demonstrated compassion, flexibility, friendliness, and patience. Maybe you have helped an older neighbour do the shopping, or cared for a friend’s children or an unwell relative? These are relevant examples!

  • How do you work as part of a team?
     
This is a fundamental question for a PSW. The interviewers want to know that you will take responsibility in a team, but that you won’t try to do everything yourself. Effective support work is based on effective teamwork.

Your answer to this question is an opportunity to demonstrate how you can work collaboratively with others, so think about previous experiences that you have had where you have worked with others. Make sure you highlighted how you personally contributed to the goals of the team.
 

Remember – your experiences don’t have to be work-based! If you have examples from your hobbies, volunteering, or family life, you can use these to illustrate your answers.

  • How do you separate your work and personal life?
Being a personal support worker can be a challenging job. Sometimes you will have days that can be really tough – dealing with difficult clients or watching one of your clients deteriorate. Being able to deal with these things emotionally is important.

You can highlight to your interviewers how you look after yourself outside of work, for example with hobbies, exercise, or any involvement in your community.

What do you do about CPD?

CPD stands for Continuous Professional Development. Which really just means continuing to learn as you work.

Employers might want to know if you have taken any training courses or regularly read anything relevant to the role. This highlights your dedication to learning and improvement.

If you really want to shine in your interview, you could take an online course. Websites like Skills Platform or Reed to give you some more knowledge about the kind of skills needed to be a support worker.

You could also highlight other examples, for instance, if you have done any volunteering where you have developed in any of the skills and qualities needed to be a PSW.


Tip: Consider other general interview questions that you might be asked!

 

Scenario-based questions:

As well as being asked some of the general interview questions highlighted above, you may also be asked some scenario-based questions. The interviewers want to know how you would respond in these situations.

  • If you are asked to assess the needs of a client by a supervising nurse, how would you go about doing this?
 of the key points to make in your answer is that you are doing this with the client, not to the client. You would go through all of their daily activities with your client, finding out what things they can do, and what activities they have difficulties with.

Another critical thing to mention here is that you would assess the risk to the client.

Your assessment is made in collaboration with the client.

  • What would you do if you found a client on the floor?
You need to demonstrate to the interviewers that you understand the seriousness of a client having a fall. Firstly, speak to the client to make sure they are okay, and get a nurse or the supervising medical professional. If you are in a home setting, you may need to phone for an ambulance.

  • What would you do if you were working with one client, and another client required help?
Make sure you always check on the client calling for help. It may be that it’s not an urgent matter and that you can reassure them. Or they may need immediate assistance and you would get back up from your colleagues. Remember that you need to take responsibility, but you aren’t working alone.

  • How would you react to an angry client?
You want to make sure that you demonstrate to the interviews that you have an understanding of illnesses of ageing, including dementia, and how this can affect people’s moods.

You would want to see if you could resolve the reason behind the client's anger calmly and gently. If their anger seems not to fit the situation, it may be a sign that their dementia or illness is getting worse, and this would need referring to your supervisor.

  • What would you do if a nurse asked you to administer medicine to a client?
Care workers, in some settings, can give medicine to clients. But only with the appropriate training and guidance. Emphasise that you would work in line with the employer’s policy.

Legal information on administering medication in the UK can be found here.

One of the responsibilities you may have, however, is reminding your clients to take their prescribed medication themselves

Reminding you clients to take their medication is one of your responsibilities as a personal support worker.

  • What would you do if you suspected your client was suffering from abuse?

This is a key question that you may be asked, as sadly, there are many incidences of abuse to the elderly who are in care. You must demonstrate to the interviewers that you understand it is your responsibility to be aware of the signs of abuse and how you would fight it.

Interview Tips

  • Learn about the rights of clients and your legal responsibilities as a support worker in your country, country, state or district. 
  • Familiarise yourself with the qualities and skills needed to be a personal support worker. 
  • Do a mock interview! Ask a friend or family member to ask you some of these interview questions so that you can practice answering confidently.
  • Check out some general interview skills.
     
Remember – the most important thing is to show how you meet the skills and qualities required to be a PSW!


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