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Imagine that a client sits in front of you at the start of an intake session. What kinds of questions will you ask? How will you retrieve the necessary information while also building rapport?

Clients come into the helping process with varied attitudes and personality traits. Additionally, clients come from various socioeconomic backgrounds, genders, religions, cultures, professions, physical abilities, ages, and sexual orientations. Despite the numerous variables that affect interviews, certain factors are common to all effective interviews.

In this Discussion, you explore the process involved in effective interviewing, as well as the unique qualities that you bring to a client interview.

To prepare, watch the Southside Community Services video that depicts different interview scenarios.

Identify two examples of each of the following basic interviewing skills used in the session and describe the differences in the responses of the client: Please use book attached pages as a resource
Closed-ended questions
Open-ended questions
Book Citation

Cummins, L., K., & Sevel, J., A. (2017). Social work skills for beginning direct practice: Text, workbook, and interactive web based case studies (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

Chapter 5, “Basic Skills for Direct Practice” (pp. 94-114)

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Sample Answer

Closed-ended questions

Closed-ended questions are questions that can be answered with a simple yes, no, or one-word response. They are often used to gather specific information, such as a client’s name, address, or date of birth.

Here are two examples of closed-ended questions that could be asked at the start of an intake session:

  • What is your name?
  • What is your date of birth?

Open-ended questions

Open-ended questions are questions that require a more detailed response from the client. They are often used to gather information about the client’s experiences, thoughts, and feelings.

Full Answer Section

Here are two examples of open-ended questions that could be asked at the start of an intake session:

  • What brings you in here today?
  • Can you tell me more about that?


Clarification is the process of checking with the client to make sure that you understand their response correctly. It is important to clarify anything that is unclear or confusing.

Here is an example of how to use clarification in an intake session:

  • Social worker: You said that you are feeling overwhelmed. Can you tell me more about what that means to you?


Paraphrasing is the process of repeating back to the client what you have just heard them say in your own words. This shows the client that you are listening to them and that you understand what they are saying.

Here is an example of how to use paraphrasing in an intake session:

  • Client: I’m really stressed out about my job.
  • Social worker: So, it sounds like you’re feeling a lot of pressure at work. Is that right?

How to retrieve the necessary information while also building rapport

One way to retrieve the necessary information while also building rapport is to use a combination of closed-ended and open-ended questions. Closed-ended questions can be used to gather basic information, such as the client’s name and address. Open-ended questions can be used to learn more about the client’s experiences, thoughts, and feelings.

It is also important to be mindful of your body language and tone of voice. Make eye contact with the client and lean forward slightly to show that you are interested in what they have to say. Speak in a gentle and respectful tone of voice.

Finally, be sure to pace yourself and take breaks when needed. The intake session should be a comfortable and collaborative experience for both the social worker and the client.

Unique qualities that I bring to a client interview

I am a good listener and I am able to put myself in the client’s shoes. I am also non-judgmental and accepting. I believe that everyone has a story to tell, and I am interested in learning about the client’s unique experiences.

I am also aware of my own biases and prejudices. I work hard to be mindful of these biases and to ensure that they do not interfere with my ability to provide objective and supportive services.

Overall, I believe that I am a caring and compassionate social worker who is committed to helping clients achieve their goals.

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