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Experts in business are critical for the running of successful running of every company in the world - just one of the reasons why being a skilled businessperson can translate into almost any sector or future career. However, with different companies come different application processes.
With that in mind, we have surveyed a number of different businesses to find out what their typical application journey entarils, and here's what you can expect for your business apprenticeship application process.
You'll need to submit your CV and either answer some application questions or write a cover letter. This is your chance to highlight your skills, experiences, and qualifications, making a strong case for why you're an ideal candidate for the business apprenticeship.
You will have interviews with a panel from the employer's side, either face-to-face or virtually. This is where you can really let your personality shine, communicate effectively, and express your enthusiasm for the company. It's a crucial step to show how you would fit into the business environment.
Finally, you'll participate in group activities alongside other candidates. This stage assesses your teamwork and problem-solving skills in a business-like scenario. It's an opportunity for you to demonstrate how you handle challenges, work collaboratively with others, and respond to different situations in a team setting.
Dos and don'ts when applying for an business apprenticeship
- Include any relevant work experience, for example, a retail job you have at the weekend or any internships you’ve done. Remember, every experience you have of working will be for an established business. So, technically, there's no wrong answer here.
- Show your wider knowledge of the industry, like podcasts you’ve listened to or relevant YouTube channels you follow that have been instrumental in your growing passion in the business sector.
- Look at examples of the company’s previous projects to discuss in the interview. It shows your interest in that company specifically, the way they run, as well as the values and culture the business promotes.
- Don't be generic. Tell the employer why you want to work for them specifically. E.g. – their values, projects they’ve worked on etc.
- Try not to feel under pressure to know every detail about the company and the apprenticeship. You’re going in as an apprentice, so you won’t have all the skills. Try to exhibit your personality and passion, and more importantly, if you don't know the answer to a question, ask!
- Steer clear of adding examples in where they don’t belong. If an example doesn’t fit with the question, you’ll need to think on the spot in an interview.
What are business apprenticeship employers looking for?
Applying for a business apprenticeship can be daunting, especially when you feel like you have nothing to relevant to shout about. But that's not the case at all. Remember, this is an apprenticeship, and an employer will not expect you to have CEO experience. Here are a few areas where you can start to build experience profile outside generic grades and qualifications.
What better way to display transferable business skills than an insight into your hobbies and interests? For example, if you’re a keen photographer, lean on the attention to detail and creativity you can bring into the boardroom, or if you’re a sports player, the teamwork characteristics you’ve mastered that could work wonders during business projects.
It goes without saying that the work you put in outside the classroom is a great marker for your commitment to career success. Any volunteering, unpaid work experience, or even programmes you’ve worked on in the past, like Young Enterprise or the Duke of Edinburgh Award, will help bolster your business apprenticeship application.
To give you a head start on your interview, here are some of the questions that an employer might ask you during the process:
- "Reflecting on your past experiences, can you identify a situation where you had to make a significant decision under pressure? How did you approach this decision, and what was the outcome?"
- "Can you provide an example of a time when you successfully communicated a complex idea or concept to a non-technical audience? How did you ensure that your message was understood?"
- "Tell us about a time when you had to adapt to a significant change within a team or project. How did you handle this change, and what was the impact on the project or the team dynamics?"
- "Can you discuss a time when you identified a gap in your knowledge or skills and took steps to address it? How did this learning process contribute to your professional development?"
An example of a cover letter section
For the last three years, I’ve been working in Tesco at the weekends and in the evenings around my academic studies. Juggling both work and studying has vastly improved my time management and organisational skills. Skills that I believe would be invaluable in a business operations role. Not only this, working in retail has given me a real appreciation for how a business works and my aim is to become a store manager where I can help make regular improvements to the business. I’ve demonstrated my interest in this by taking on extra shifts regularly and volunteering to help with other things, like community initiatives in the store and training of new store members.
My work experience isn't the only place I have picked up skills relevant to a business operations apprenticeship, however. I have been a commited team player in a local football team for the past ten years, rising from the youth into the adult team at aged 16. While this has established a natural team building skill through my time at the club, I have recently been recongised for my leadership skills too, taking on captaincy after just two years in the adult team.
- Matched work experience: The applicant has cherry picked skills that business apprenticeship employers will be interested in, like organisational and time management skills, while showing their commitment to both the continuing success of the business and professional development to a senior business position in the retail sector.
- Demonstrated research: The applicant has offered an understanding of the skills that are applicable to the role, and given hard examples of how they have started to acquire these skills prior to applying for the role. What's more, the applicant has mentioned the specific area of business and the particular apprenticeship that they are applying for.
- Shown relevant skills: While work experience is important for a business apprenticeship, the applicant has drawn on extra-curricular activities in order to provide examples of other skills, while showing a commitment that runs further than a short tenured part-time role.