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Protocol for Student Interview Requests

June 18, 2014

Several times per week I receive requests from social work students throughout the US and Canada to interview me as a social worker.

The interview request is an assignment and the student has to write a paper on the basis of the interview. The assignment is to help acquaint the student with information pertaining to the role, job and employment of social workers. All in all, this is a good exercise for the student or person considering entering the profession.

The request usually beings with the student sending an email, seeking permission to interview and asking if he or she can send a few questions to be answered by email. As per my experience, when I say yes, I then receive an email with 5 to 20 questions, all of which could take 30 to 60 minutes to answer fully. The request is often presented with a matter of urgency, as if the assignment was left to near the final deadline for submission. Often the request is poorly grammatically structured, punctuated and there are numerous spelling mistakes.

Needless-to-say, I simply cannot respond to these requests of my time. To reduce the requests, I have advised students that a condition of my consent is that I receive a copy of their paper. With that I rarely receive their questionnaire. If I do however, I rarely receive a copy of their paper as would be promised. If I do receive a paper, it often looks like a cut and paste job of the email I provided. This leaves me feeling like I have completed the student’s assignment and rarely does the student extend appreciation once my reply is provided.

On a go-forward basis, those students who seek to interview me must have their teacher/ professor/instructor contact me in advance to discuss the terms of the interview (number of questions, time to respond, copy of the report, reasonably written request, expression of gratitude) before I will consent to the interview. In other words, the student doesn’t only need to learn about the profession, but how to reasonably make requests of other professionals.

I am happy to oblige and give back to the profession with the teacher/professor/instructor appreciating the commitment involved and the necessity of their student’s preparation and impact on the interviewees time and energy.

Teacher/professor/instructor – If you would like my availability to meet the needs of your students, please call first to discuss. The entire process should provide for the student’s development.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker.

https://garydirenfeld.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/gary-feb-12.jpg?w=497

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

(905) 628-4847

gary@yoursocialworker.com
http://www.yoursocialworker.com

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Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America.

If your relationship is faltering, then set it as your priority.

Read: Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships.

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2 Comments
  1. Linda Grobman, MSW, LSW, CMP

    Gary, this issue has come up many times for me and for others involved in our previous online forum. I would add to what you have written that I *think* when a professor makes this assignment, he/she really wants the student to *interview* a social worker–rather than to simply e-mail a list of questions and have the social worker write the answers. As you said, in this case, the *interviewee* is really writing the paper. I think it would be much more educational and useful for the student to identify a local social worker, make a phone call and set up a time to either meet in person or talk by phone, and conduct a spoken interview. That way, the student can get a much better feel for the social worker’s role, can ask follow up questions, observe how the social worker talks and acts, and so forth. If the interview is held in the social worker’s office/agency, the student can get a much better feel for the work environment, also.

  2. P. Renee Johnson-Hedgepeth permalink

    I too feel that way. I generally don’t interviews but I have found that the students that have a vested interested will ask early, provide questions prior and will send you a rough draft of the paper to critique.

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